The AMA Language Arts syllabus encompasses English, Spanish, and Kaqchikel. Students are expected to be fully bilingual in English and Spanish by the time they graduate.
The English component of the Language Arts curriculum is about fluency not just in the basics of the language, but communication as a whole. There will also be a focus on the critical thinking skills necessary for the students to be able to make relevant contributions and form good arguments. In addition, the classes are intensive both in reading and writing – especially in the higher grades – for the purposes of college preparation. Because the purpose is to spark thinking in the students, the class is not limited to a typical “English class” curriculum, but encompasses a broad swath of the Humanities, including (but not limited to) Philosophy, Visual Narrative, and Literary Theory.
For grades 7 & 8, the goal of the class is to instill an interest in reading, make sure the students achieve basic competence in writing, as well as the overall focus on communication. To that end, there is an additional focus on grammar and speaking in these grades. Visual narrative is introduced at this level.
Grades 9 & 10 are those in which there is an early exposure to critical thinking in terms of recognizing logical fallacies as putting together a coherent argument. The aim in these grades switches from grammar and basic literacy to understanding the elements of narrative and poetry. Literary analysis and writing (of both prose and poetry) intensifies at this level.
In grade 11 the components of critical thinking and analysis of narratives (novels, films, etc.) and non-narratives (eg. poetry) are continued and broadened. Again, there is greater emphasis on literature and composition, with environmental issues being the focus.
For grade 12, literary analysis is augmented by close readings of prose and poetry and the students will be expected to write a research paper that presents a compelling argument on a topic of the student’s choice by the end of the year.
Students also receive lessons in Spanish and Kaqchikel (the dominant Mayan language of the Lake Atitlán area).