Middle School & Continuing Language Options

ISP graduates are very well thought of among Portland-area private & public middle schools. Knowing that families and students choose middle schools for a variety of reasons, we communicate regularly with middle schools to help them understand our students’ needs specifically for advanced language options.

Today there are both private and public middle schools that offer advanced language classes and social studies taught in our target languages. Although there are no full language immersion middle schools in the Portland area, the existing programs will enable International School of Portland graduates to keep up and grow their language skills and/or to learn a third language.

Most middle schools advise parents to start their research by September of fifth grade. The process should start with collecting information, scheduling tours and noting due dates.

Continuing Language Options through ISP

Continuing Language Experience Classes (CLE)  are geared to middle school alumni, providing an opportunity to maintain their language skills while socializing with their ISP friends in a familiar environment. We offer classes for our three language tracks: Japanese, Mandarin, and Spanish (minimum of 6 students are required per language group). CLE classes meet weekly; often on Sunday mornings.

Public Middle Schools

Many ISP graduates go on to public middle schools, particularly those schools which are continuation programs for the district’s partial-immersion programs.

Admission to language immersion programs generally requires a language proficiency test which may include an interview with the 6th grade teacher and writing samples.

Portland Public Schools (PPS)  has many language options for middle schoolers including immersion programs in Japanese, Chinese and Spanish that carry through high school. As with its elementary immersion programs, half of the day is spent in the target language, and half is in English.

The process of being admitted to the various programs is different depending where you live within PPS boundaries, which immersion program you are looking at, and whether or not the school you are interested in attending would be your home school. Click here to link to information regarding the different immersion options.

Beaverton Public Schools also has many language options in particular the International School of Beaverton (ISB) for grades 6-12: www.beaverton.k12.or.us/isb/, (503) 259-3800. See www.beaverton.k12.or.us/ for more information on language options in Beaverton.

Private Middle Schools

Many ISP graduates go on to private middle schools with advanced language programs or flexibility to move children ahead in language. Application deadlines are often in February, although they may be earlier. Many schools require items which you must start planning for in the fall:

  • Teacher recommendations (start early – for your teacher’s sake)
  • SSAT (Secondary School Admission Test, similar concept to the SAT, see www.ssat.org)
  • Parent & student interviews
  • Shadow day: the 5th grader “shadows” a 6th grader as an opportunity for the applicant to evaluate the school and vice versa
  • Application fee
  • Proficiency tests if the child is seeking advanced placement in language or other subjects

Following are examples of some Portland-area middle schools that may offer advanced language options for ISP graduates. Please contact the schools directly for their most current information. They are listed in alphabetical order.

Catlin Gabel School (CGS – private)

8825 SW Barnes Road, Portland, Oregon 97225

www.catlin.edu, 503-297-1894

Grades: PreK – 12


Catlin Gabel is a nationally recognized progressive independent day school for preschool through 12th grade. 185 students are enrolled in the Middle School (grades 6-8) where teachers build transforming relationships with each student, honoring each child’s innate capacities, encouraging exploration, welcoming questions, and always presenting new intellectual and creative challenges to our young scientists, storytellers, artists, and athletes. This combination of rich content and catalytic method forms bold learners who become insightful questioners, responsible thinkers, and inspired action-takers for life.

Approximately one-third of the 6th grade are new students to Catlin Gabel.

Language options

Catlin Gabel offers French, Spanish & Chinese to Middle and Upper School students. Students entering the school at any point in the Middle School can enroll in a language class, and Catlin Gabel strives to place each child appropriately. Global travel is an opportunity in both the Middle and Upper school language programs. Catlin Gabel also offers a Global Education initiative that enriches the community with international and cross-cultural opportunities.

Gilkey International Middle School (GIMS – private)

8500 NW Johnson Street, Portland, Oregon 97229

www.faispdx.org, 503-292-7776

Grades: 6 – 8


The Gilkey International Middle School, part of the French American International School (FAIS), is a welcoming community of about 150 students and 20 teachers; and provides a student-centered learning environment where academic rigor takes place within inviting and nurturing social interaction. FAIS is an IB World School accredited by PNAIS as well as the French Ministry of National Education.

Advanced language options for ISP students

Gilkey provides partial language immersion programs in Mandarin Chinese and Spanish in addition to French and German, as well as an English-based program for students with no previous foreign language experience. Students entering sixth grade with previous immersion experience take their language at an advanced level as well as social studies in the immersion language. Students from all tracks are mixed in classes where English is the language of instruction. All students begin a third language in grade six which they continue to study until the end of grade eight. Beginning and advanced languages are taught exclusively by native speakers of the language, and all teachers are certified to teach in the US, in Europe, or in Asia.

Many ISP graduates attend / have attended Gilkey.

Northwest Academy (private)

1130 SW Main Street, Portland, OR 97205

www.nwacademy.org, 503.223.3367

Grades: 6-12


Northwest Academy, located at the corner of SW Main St. and SW 12th Ave., is an independent school for students grades 6-12. NWA partners rigorous, challenging academic curricula with diverse training and experience in the arts, including theater, dance, music, and visual arts. For more information or to schedule a visit, contact the Admissions Office admissions@nwacademy.org

Advanced language options for ISP students

Northwest Academy now offers both Spanish and Mandarin language classes for students with near-native proficiency. The class is specifically geared toward the language needs of ISP students.

We have ISP graduates who have attended Northwest Academy every year.

Oregon Episcopal School (OES – private)

6300 SW Nicol Road, Portland, OR 97223

www.oes.edu, 503-246-7771

Grades: PreK – 12


Founded in 1869, OES is an independent school for Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12 located in the Raleigh Hills area of southwest Portland.  OES has a boarding component in grades 9 – 12 with students from the USA, Asia, Africa, Europe and South America living on campus and enriching our school community.  OES students are actively engaged in the learning process with collaborative, hands-on activities emphasizing inquiry, creativity and real world applications.

Sixth grade is one of OES’s traditional entry points with about one quarter of the 6th grade class consisting of new students.

Language options

Middle and Upper School students can choose to study Spanish, Mandarin or French.  New 6th grade students coming from language immersion programs are given language evaluations. If the student demonstrates appropriate language proficiency, the school will place him/her in a more advanced class.  Alternately, that student could start to learn a new language with the other 6th grade students.  OES provides beginning level through Advanced Placement (AP) language classes. OES offers 8th grade language trips to Spain, China, and French-speaking Canada. In the Middle and Upper Schools, language exchange programs and other international experiences are available.

Several ISP graduates attend/have attended OES.