Foreign education in the U.S.

One thing that I’ve always wondered is the possibility of learning the curriculum of a foreign country in the U.S. This would not be possible in the public school system, but would certainly be possible in some private schools. Are there schools in the U.S. that provide the curriculum of a foreign country?

One distinction that needs to be made is the difference between a foreign education curriculum and a bilingual (or multilingual) school. Although a bilingual school often teaches subjects other than language in dual languages, the school still follows the U.S. curriculum. Another distinction is that the curriculum would not only teach a language. The focus of these classes are only in use of the language, such as reading, writing, and speaking. There is not an emphasis on learning other subjects in the language. These learners are able to take exams meant for foreign learners of the language to assess their levels. They are not expected to achieve native-like level of fluency.

There are schools that do focus on preparing their students for native level fluency in a language other than English. The Saturday school program at the German International School of Silicon Valley focuses on preparing their students for the German Language Diploma. The second level of the German Language Diploma shows competence in a level of German required for university studies and the exam is geared towards high school students not in Germany. EFBA (French Education in the Bay Area) is an organization that prepares students for the DELF, a language certificate given by the Ministry of National Education of France. I think the passing the highest level of the exam can satisfy a language requirement to enroll at a French university. Although these two examples show that students can use these certificates to show language proficiency, their education may still be based on the American curriculum and not that of France or Germany. Also these exams seem to have non-native speakers of the language as their target test takers.

The first type of school that came to mind was the American school system in foreign countries, even though this is the other way around of my initial thought. These schools offer the American curriculum so students can return to the U.S. and continue school without much difficulty. The students are also prepared to take the same standardized exams as students in the U.S. would for college.

I found out that some of the American schools and most of the International schools use the International Baccalaureate system. There are also plenty of schools in U.S. that offer the IB program. It is an international system with schools in 144 countries. Plenty of universities around the world also recognize the IB diploma. The program is unique in that it covers all ages of a child’s education from 3 to 19 years old. This system would be helpful for children whose families are constantly on the move to different countries. Since the curriculum is the same, students can have a continuous education. Then they can return to their home country or choose a country to attend university.

My search came up with a few schools which do provide curriculum that matches the curriculum of a few foreign countries. The German International School of Silicon Valley provides a high school academic program that is equal to the German curriculum. These students prepare for the international version of the German National exams in 12th grade (the last year of high school). Their final diploma qualifies them for universities in Germany, other European countries, and the U.S. The Dallas International School provides a curriculum for the French Baccalaureate. The programs are from the French Ministry of National Education and are taught in French. These students are prepared the same as their counterparts in France. A few extra courses then gives them the necessary requirements to also receive a U.S. high school diploma.

But what about education in the years leading up to high school? Again the German International School of Silicon Valley seems to follow the German curriculum as early as preschool. The Palo Alto French Education Association has classes that uses a distance learning program designed by the French Ministry of National Education. The program is designed so children are taught French at the same pace as their counterparts in France.

It looks like there are schools in the U.S. that can provide an education in that of a foreign country and the U.S. I know I only did a basic search, so perhaps there are countries other than Germany and France that provide similar diplomas and examination systems.

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