Foreign languages are integral to the Waldorf curriculum. German and Spanish are the two foreign languages taught in the Lower School. As the students are exposed to languages from two different language groups, Germanic and Romance, they absorb knowledge of life from two different points of view. Students also learn how to communicate with people from other countries. More importantly, however, they develop an understanding and appreciation for other cultures. Through the mere sounds of each foreign language, students experience characteristics unique to the culture. As heard when spoken by the teacher, or as experienced in their own songs and recitations, each language provides a window through which the students experience the world.
For the first three years, the language lessons consist of oral work only. From the very first lesson in first grade, students are surrounded by the sounds of the new languages. These first three years comprise the golden age for learning languages, since the young child is still very receptive to the tones, rhythms and patterns of speech. So it is at this time that we can establish the purest pronunciation and genuine love for foreign language. One of the most important sources of material, in which the children may truly experience the character of a culture, is in German and Hispanic folklore and folk music. Consequently, the lessons in grades one through three are filled with age-appropriate, seasonal poetry, songs, tongue twisters, and verses. There is really no limit to the amount of material that can be offered at this age. Students create their own textbooks filled with drawings from the content of the lessons. This builds a foundation of experiences for reading and writing the foreign language at the end of third grade. In addition, various games add movement and liveliness to the lessons. By the end of third grade, students are expected to identify various objects in their classrooms, clothing, and body parts. They should also have a working vocabulary for colors, numbers, and time.