A  coed Friends school, pre-K to 12, on 47 acres in East Falls, Philadelphia


Language and Culture

Knowledge and communication are guiding lights on students' paths to leadership as global citizens.

The language and culture curriculum is built on the idea that communication is at the base of language learning. Students across languages and levels study the language in context and make cultural connections and comparisons.

"Before Penn Charter I never had the opportunity to study languages in school. After seventh grade Spanish, I fell in love with learning languages and decided to pursue more." Yamit Netter-Sweet OPC '17

Key Characteristics

  • The Penn Charter Language and Culture department follows the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages guidelines and national standards of proficiency.
  • Through the use of authentic resources and with the target language as the primary language of instruction, students are encouraged to take risks and develop a tolerance of ambiguity. The focus is communication and create meaning with the language.
  • At Penn Charter, students learn Mandarin Chinese using a story-based approach that immerses them in the language while making it easy to understand. Students also learn to read and write simplified Chinese characters.
  • In Latin classes, the focus is on the 5Cs (communication, cultures, comparison, connections, and communities). Latin students are prepared to read authentic ancient texts. Middle School Latin helps students improve their understanding of English grammar and vocabulary. Students have fun learning stories from ancient history and mythology and doing hands-on projects.


Curricular Highlights

  • In sixth grade, students take one quarter of each language; the program develops students’ basic language skills and exposes them to the diversity of cultures that use or used these languages.
  • Penn Charter uses modern tools to teach timeless materials in new ways. Eighth grade Latin students study how Roman coins were designed, valued, and struck and then design and make their own in the IdeaLab.
  • French students use the language and cultural understanding acquired during a service-learning trip to Martinique to engage in meaningful conversation related to the Caribbean and connecting to the experiences from the trip.
  • Students in Mandarin classes see the language come alive outside the classroom with trips to Chinatown and museums in Philadelphia and beyond.


“As a teacher of languages, the greatest moment is seeing where there language learning has taken them outside of the classroom and how they are connecting with communities different from their own whether it be internationally or locally.” Sarah Aguilar-Francis, department chair and Spanish teacher