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The Urban School
of San Francisco
1563 Page Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
415 626 2919

World Languages

Urban’s World Language Department teachers seek to inspire and motivate students to become proficient in Mandarin Chinese, French or Spanish by their senior year and to continue their language learning beyond Urban in order to participate more efficaciously in a world made irrevocably smaller by technological innovation, globalization and immigration. 

The tools of proficiency encompass both form (grammatical precision, extensive and expressive vocabulary, near-native accent and intonation) and message (authentic and spontaneous communication exchanges). We train our students to access and balance these two domains of language production from their first year onward by immersion in the target language, avoidance of English, and both instruction and assessment practices that require daily and active participation. As students progress through the program, they continue to develop their linguistic range through engagement with increasingly diverse and complex cultural and social themes chosen for their relevance and challenge.

Digital technology plays a pivotal role in the language classroom, in particular because of its unique and intrinsic capacity to shape, facilitate and improve communication, the central goal of the program. We make frequent and deliberate use of such tools as interactive white boards (Smartboards), video and sound files, and digital flashcards, to name just a few. Such multimedia approaches and settings also facilitate access, practice and retention of material for students with a diverse range of learning styles and preferences.  

See language courses for 2018-19.


The Urban School curriculum provides an exceptionally strong foundation in college preparatory subjects. Many of our classes have distinctive features that set them apart as particularly challenging and comparable to college level work. These classes, designated as UAS (Urban Advanced Studies), are developed by the Urban faculty and comprise the school's most rigorous coursework. UAS classes are offered in every subject area and most are recognized by colleges (including the University of California) as honors level courses. Many Urban students choose to take Advanced Placement subject exams after taking these courses.

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