Forming bilingual, bi-literate, intercultural learners in a Christ-Centered program

In partnership with parents, CBA exists to inspire world changers through Christ-centered, inter-cultural, immersion-based education.

Who are we?

CBA seeks to kindle community change in Charleston by uniting and leveraging diverse families through providing developmentally appropriate, project-based, language immersion education.

In this setting, we develop children linguistically, cognitively, socio-emotionally, and physically by equipping children to navigate cultures and languages, while learning and experiencing the love of the Triune God. Along with the school, students and their families will engage various cultures, combating unintentional and intentional racism, classism, xenophobia, poverty and broken families.

CBA students learn to live in at least two languages, simultaneously making friends from many cultures, all the while being saturated with the great love and truth of the Triune God.

Who are our students becoming?

Creative thinkers who . . .

Confident communicators who . . .

Courageous leaders who . . .

How are we getting there?

Brain research-based, developmentally appropriate learning:

Your child was created intricately and wonderfully by God to think and reason. As a child’s brain develops, they move from being a preoperational thinker (≈ age 2 – 7) to becoming a concrete operational thinker (≈ age 7 – 11). Then maturing into a formal operational stage around the age of 12. Basically, the preoperational brain is perfectly designed by God to learn oral language with ease. Oral language comes first, preparing humans for a life of learning and communicating based on their oral language. The concrete brain is perfectly designed by God to learn literacy (reading and writing) but has lost most of its capacity to easily acquire spoken language at the native level. The shift between stages is gradual (it does not happen overnight when you turn seven).

What are the educational implications of brain development in children in the areas of oral and literacy fluency? A “pure” preoperational thinker should focus primarily on language acquisition and a “pure” concrete thinker should focus primarily on literacy. Often the US public schools, have prioritized literacy in both stages, incorporating a curriculum that pushes 4 and 5 years old to learn to read before entering 1st grade (reading at the Fountas and Pinnell level ). In comparison, many European countries do not start formal schooling that focuses on literacy until 6-7 years of age while encouraging bilingual early childhood programs to develop oral fluency. As a result, many Europeans learn to read a couple of years later, but by the age of 10, read just as proficiently as students who started reading at five. Research shows that students who learn to read when they are cognitively ready, enjoy reading more and are better at comprehending what they read (research). Additionally, these European readers often are speaking and reading in multiple languages, and usually navigating multiple cultures as well.

Based on brain research and international best practice, Charleston Bilingual Academy’s Early Childhood Education (Preschool – KG) immerses students in spoken language and the love of reading. The school also works on prewriting and prereading, but at an enjoyable pace to protect the child’s desire to learn. By the end of PK4, we expect students to identify the alphabet (upper and lower case) and be able to write some letters. By the end of Kindergarten, students can phonetically sound out the alphabet, combine some syllables into words, and begin reading simple words (Fountas and Pinnell would rank this level of reading as AA level). Students will also be able to write simple words and phrases with guidance.

When a six-year-old enters first grade, they are still preoperational thinkers, yet they are developmentally shifting towards the “concrete” stage. CBA wants to both maximize the final stage of language acquisition capacity while also increasing literacy instruction. Students now begin learning in both Spanish and English. The Spanish class focuses on literacy and mathematics at a slightly slower pace as students continue to develop their oral fluency in the target language. The English class, however, begins the school year with a normal-paced focus on literacy and learning to read (reading, writing, listening and speaking).

In summary, CBA does not teach literacy with the same intensity in PreKindergarten and Kindergarten as you find in a traditional monolingual public-school environment. By the first semester of first grade, CBA increases instruction in literacy in English while increasing Spanish literacy in the second semester. As a student becomes proficient in one language, the ability to decode transfers to a large degree into the other language.

Based on our knowledge of child development, we want to increase literacy yet not at the cost of destroying a child’s desire to learn. Exasperating a child will undermine the learning process. As we partner with parents in teaching literacy, we build the students’ desire to read through piquing their curiosity, desire to succeed, and enjoyment found in reading. As we increase their love of learning, we will also increase their stamina. As a result, by the second half of elementary school (3rd-5th grades), CBA students will be on par, if not ahead, of national norms in reading in English. And it goes without mentioning, they will also be reading in another language! And one more thing, research tells us they will be stronger critical thinkers. By the time students take the SAT in high school, bilinguals often score higher.

Play-based, project-based Curriculum

CBA provides a play-based (Early Childhood Education – ECE) and project-based (Elementary) curriculum. Each day, ECE students are given time to be creative through play, socialization, arts and crafts, and recess. Students work through themes from science and social studies as they are immersed with literacy and begin to learn about the calendar, colors, letters, shapes, phonics, pre-writing skills, numbers, life-cycles, and many more exciting things. For example, when they are studying the farm, we wrap writing, reading, math, biology, geography, economy, art and music into the theme. Children are given the building blocks for creative thinking and problem solving all while being immersed in the love of reading and writing as they are prepared for future learning.

Learning in elementary is project-based where teachers weave science and social studies themes into the core disciplines of Language Arts as students develop reading, writing, listening, speaking and thinking skills at age-appropriate levels mapped to common core and NGSS standards. Elementary children explore the world with wonder as they read, investigate, explore, create, sing, and discuss, and present what they are doing. Students are encouraged to ask questions, present their thinking, and take ownership of their learning. In grades 1 and 2 the focus is on learning to read beginning with systematic phonics instruction. In grades 3 and beyond, the focus turns to reading to learn. Throughout the elementary years, students are instructed in differentiated small groups in literacy-rich classrooms. Each inquiry-based lesson and activity is made to be developmentally appropriate for each child. Through collaborative projects, use of technology, and increased independent learning, students become critical thinkers, skilled communicators, leaders, and world changers.

The study of mathematics based on the Singapore Math model using Eureka curriculum materials. Singapore math methodology focuses on students learning to think mathematically instead of just rote memorization. Watch this introductory video to further see what math looks like (scroll down to the “introducing number bonds” video. You can also read an example here). If you would like, parents can open an account with Eureka through their homepage.

Foundationally, everything is taught out of a Biblical worldview where God is revealing Himself through creation which we then connect to scripture. Throughout all subjects and levels, students are constantly asked the following questions, leading them to search for truth that is only, ultimately, answered in the Bible:

Who made it? What is its purpose? How is it good? How is it beautiful? We also reinforce this worldview in our Bible classes and Chapel, showing that God wants us to know Him and have a relationship with him which will then overflow into our love for others. Art, music, and physical education are also incorporated into the curriculum. The small classes allow teachers to individualize learning goals as each child develops at her own pace. The well-balanced, engaging curriculum endeavors to grow students’ desire to learn while intentionally employing and building their linguistic strengths.


In line with many cutting-edge international programs, CBA’s benchmarks focus on the end person and not simply literate and mathematical skills. Here is a link to our student learning outcomes which guide us as we pursue the formation of students who love God and others and are equipped with 21st-century skills.

Reading: (link to Fountas & Pinnell/ Lexile chart, Link to level descriptions)

Due to high stakes testing and large class sizes, public schools often adopt national norms even though children learn at different speeds. CBA provides a range for children that prioritizes individual growth. International research demonstrates that these students will have caught up or surpassed national norms by 10 years of age. Based on our differentiation and small class sizes, many children will reach our goals faster than the maps indicate below.

In Spanish

In English


In Spanish

In English

Speaking in Spanish:

Specific skills are outlined in our report card that demonstrate what a student understands and can communicate in Spanish according to lingua folio benchmarks.

Mathematics: (taught only in Spanish, but students can answer word problems in either language)

Common Core Math Standards are the guide. Specific skills are outlined in our report card that demonstrate what a student understands and can communicate in Spanish.

How can you be part of your child’s learning?

Home/School Partnership:

In order to achieve our academic goals, CBA partners with parents. From preschool on, it is CBA’s expectation that parents read for fun daily with their children. Starting, the second semester of first grade, teachers will weekly assign 5 Spanish and 5 English books through Raz kids for students to read and answer the quiz. Since this program is highly motivating, students will often do more than 5 stories.

Also starting the second semester of 1st grade, the Spanish teacher will assign a page of homework in the Eureka math workbook (or online practice) a few days each week. Students need parents to reinforce the homework at home in an enjoyable environment, allowing the student to do his/her best (aka students do the work, not the parents 😉 It is realistic that a child can enjoy reading two stories, and do a worksheet and/or review sight/high-frequency words, without taking away a play-filled afternoon.

Communication/ Data:

Parents should expect the following communications:

Soli Deo Gloria

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