What is South Academy of International Languages?


South Academy of International Languages is a public Charlotte Mecklenburg K-8 magnet school. SAIL offers students the opportunity to become fluent and literate in a second language through  language immersion instruction in Chinese, German, French, and Japanese. From the first days in kindergarten, students are immersed in the new language. This produces students who are proficient in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in a second language. These intensive language programs are taught in the second language for all or part of the instructional day. Spanish is introduced in the sixth grade. We create bright futures in six languages and support all students in becoming globally competent citizens ready to succeed in the 21st century.

How can I get into SAIL?

You will have to enroll your child in to the CMS School Choice lottery. To attend kindergarten, your child must be 5 years old on or before August 31st. The Magnet lottery is a random lottery. You only need to apply for one lottery application round. For more information, visit CMS School Choice. Once your child is a student at SAIL, all younger siblings will still have to do the lottery but they will be able to enter with a sibling guarantee. Your child can attend SAIL if they live in the Green and Blue transportation zones, or wish to take Japanese. For Middle School, your child can also enter SAIL in the 6th grade, also through the lottery (no testing required for 6th grade entry). 

Do you have Spanish immersion at SAIL?

No, we are not a Spanish dual immersion school. If interested in learning Spanish, please visit Collinswood Language Academy for the blue transportation zone, Charlotte East Language Academy for the green transportation zone, or Oaklawn Language Academy for the purple transportation zone. We offer the option for students to start to learn Spanish (for non-immersion Spanish speakers) starting in the 6th grade.

Is there another way to enter SAIL outside of the lottery?

Yes, language assessments are given for students to demonstrate grade level proficiency for grades 1-7. If the student successfully meets the requirements and there is space available, the student may enter SAIL.

What are the school hours?

School is in session from 8:15 am – 3:15 pm. Your child can be dropped off as early as 7:45 am. You can enroll your child in Before-School care, for a fee, and they can be dropped off as early as 6:45 am. You can also enroll your child in after-school care (ASEP), for a fee, and they can be picked up as late as 6:00 pm. For more information on ASEP, please visit CMS ASEP.

How is South Academy of International Languages an immersion school?

You will chose which language you wish your child to take when entering the lottery. You may not switch languages for the following year. Siblings do not have to all be in the same language track. In 6th grade, your child may chose to learn a 3rd language. Kindergarten to 2nd grade is FULL immersion, meaning every subject (math, science, social studies, etc.) is taught in the target language. Grades 3-5 strive to be full immersion, however because of the difficulty in finding curriculum-appropriate textbooks in the target language, you may see more assignments, homework, etc. in English. In Grades 6-8, students continue their language track, and receive language instruction every second day. The language proficiency of SAIL students is assessed using the following measures: For all languages- Standards-based Measurement of Proficiency, for German–Deutsches Sprachdiplom, and for Chinese – Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi Chinese Proficiency Test. Elementary Chinese students take the Youth Chinese Test, an international proficiency assessment for elementary students.

How will my child get to school?

Your child can get to school by (1) bus, or (2) carpool:

  • Busing: We are a county-wide magnet school (we serve all 3 transportation zones; blue, green (for all 4 languages) and violet (for Japanese only); therefore any student living within Mecklenburg County will be eligible for transportation to SAIL. There are several busing options. (1) neighborhood stop, (2) shuttle stop and (3) consolidated stop. A neighborhood stop is at a designated CMS stop in your neighborhood, close to where you live. A shuttle stop is a designated CMS stop (usually at another CMS school) and travels directly to and from school to reduce the total time on the bus. Current SAIL shuttle stops are Shamrock Gardens ES, Barnette ES, Paw Creek ES, Croft Community ES, Vance HS, Endhaven ES, Long Creek ES, Piney Grove ES, Rivergate ES, Southwest MS,Chapel Cove Community and Berewick Community. A consolidated stop is a centralize stop that is designed to reduce the ride time to and from school. This is a stop that is organized by parents. Current consolidated stops are Park Crossing Clubhouse, Providence Commons , Morrocroft Village, JM Robinson Middle, and McKee Elemenatry. For more information on transportation, please visit CMS Transportation. You will also be able to track your child’s bus with Here Comes the Bus, an easy-to-use website and app that enables parents to see the location of their child’s school bus on a smartphone, tablet, or personal computer.
  • Carpool: drop off for carpool starts at 7:45 am and ends at 8:13 am. You must walk your child in and sign them in if carpool is closed. In the afternoon, you may also pick up your child in carpool. You must have a carpool tag in order to pick up your child via carpool (these can be purchased at our Open House).

What should my child wear to school?

SAIL is a uniform school for K-5 and has a dress code for middle school. The uniform consists of uniform tops that are navy, white and red, and uniform bottoms that are navy and khaki. Spirit Wear with the SAIL logo is sold by the PTSO. The PTSO also sells Used Blues (donated uniforms) for $2.00 each. Old Waddell tops may still be worn in the uniform colors. Non-uniform colored spirit wear shirts may be worn only on Fridays. For more information on how to order Spirit Wear, visit Shop Spirit Items.

How many classes are there? How many students are there?

There are two classes per grade for German, French and Chinese. There is one class per grade for Japanese. There are approximately 25 students per class. In Elementary School, there are around 950 students total. In Middle School, there are approximately 450 students total, about 150 students per grade. In total, South Academy of International Languages has approximately 1,400 students.

Do all classrooms have their own assistant?

All Kindergarten classes have their own assistant, who speaks in the target language. First grade teachers share an assistant. Older grades will have a visiting Academic Volunteer from an international university for a brief period of time.

What can you tell me about lunchtime?

Lunch from Elementary students runs from 10:20 until 12:00. Kindergarteners typically eat lunch from 10:50-11:20. Lunch for Middle School students runs from 12:00-1:00. Lunch time lasts 30 minutes. Students may bring their own lunch, or they can buy from the cafeteria. You can put money on their account through PayPams. This also allows you to see what your child is purchasing. The monthly K-8 menu can be viewed online. Breakfast is free for all students attending South Academy of International Languages.

How often is recess?

Recess takes place every day for 30 minutes.

What does a typical day look like in kindergarten?

A schedule might look similar to the one below. Kindergarteners are still offered a lot of breaks and repose from work. Some classes even offer a rest period, where children will lie down on a nap mat during the first half of the year.


8:15- 9:00 Arrival/Morning Work
9:00 – 10:00 Special (Media, Music, Art, PE)
10:00 – 10:50 Literacy

10:50- 11:20 Lunch

11:20 – 12:10 Literacy/Science/Social Studies

12:10 – 12:40 Recess

12:40 – 2:00 Math

2:00 – 2:45 Snack/rest period

2:45 – 3:10 Pack- up/Closing Meeting/Review

What does a typical day look like in Middle school?

There are 4 90 minute blocks and end with a 75 minute 5th block. Lunch/fitness is from 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm. Math is taught every day. Language-immmersion classes are taught every second day. Students may chose from year-long electives (such as another language, orchestra, band) and semester-long electives (such as art, drama, CTE etc). PE must be taken every year.

What electives does the Middle School offer?

Middle School gives your student the opportunity to add another language, essentially a 3rd language (Spanish, German, French, Chinese and Japanese). Students can also learn to play an instrument in Band and Orchestra. Jazz Band can be taken in 7th grade. Other electives include dance, chorus, CTE, and drama.

What kind of Specials are there for Elementary?

Specials take place every day for 1 hour and they are taught in English. They are on a rotating schedule. In Kindergarten, children will attend Media, Music, Art, and PE. Starting in 2nd grade, they will get to go to Technology and Science, and then Dance is added in the 3rd grade.

How am I supposed to help with homework if I don't speak the language?

For kindergarten, at the beginning, homework will be in both English and the target language. As the student’s language skills develop, the homework will be in the target language. Students will be able to complete their homework independently; parents are not expected to help with homework. The parents’ only responsibility is to let the teacher know if their child is struggling with a particular task and/or if the homework is taking longer than expected to complete.

How will my child learn English? Won't they be behind their peers?

Kindergarten to 2nd grade Japanese and Chinese students will have 1 hour of English, every day. German and French classes do not have English class until the 3rd grade. As of 3rd grade, all 4 languages will have English class for 1 hour a day. At home, parents should be reading to their child at least 20 minutes a day, every day, to help build their English vocabulary. Your child will still be hearing and learning English during Specials, and with their peers at lunchtime and recess.

Even though students at SAIL are learning a second language, and not receiving formal English instruction (for German/French), their 3rd grade End-Of-Year scores surpass both Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools and North Carolina schools. EOG Reading 2019 scores (% met standard) for 3rd grade: Waddell 68.8%, CMS 57.3%, NC 56.8%. The scores just get higher each year, as shown with the EOG Reading 2019 scores for 8th grade: Waddell 89.0%, CMS 54.4%, NC 55.6%.

What can SAIL do for my child who is gifted?

Cogat testing takes place for all 2nd grade students. Students who score 96th percentile or higher composite score on the Cogat place in the TD (talent development) program in reading and math. Students who score between 87th-95th percentile on the Cogat, take the ITBS (a nationally normed achievement test) in reading and math. If they score high enough on the ITBS, they can place in either math and reading, only math, or only reading. Students who score between 92nd-95th percentile composite on the Cogat, but do not place with ITBS, are entered in a portfolio process along with any student who showed indicators of giftedness on the Gifted Rating Scale that 1st grade teachers complete. Work samples are then presented to a committee of TD teachers from across the district for possible placement in math and reading. Starting in 3rd grade, your child will begin working with other TD students in either reading and/or math.

What can SAIL do for my child who is struggling?

Every child in CMS is afforded the opportunity to receive extra support in academics, behavior, and/or social emotional skills if needed. Every CMS school has problem solving teams to identify students who may need additional support. Problem solving teams look at a variety of factors to determine causes for learning needs. These teams involve YOU! Intervention plans are put in place to address specific areas of need and are monitored to ensure student success.

What field trips will my child go on?

Each grade will go on a few outbound field trips, and several inbound field trips occur at the school as well. All field trips are curriculum-aligned and reflect applicable standards. In the past, students have visited the Raptor Center, Discovery Place, Schiele Museum, Latta Plantation, and Tyvola’s Farmers Market, to name a few.

What sports does SAIL have?

Per CMS policy, sports start in Middle School, in 7th grade. For the fall, SAIL will offer cheerleading and volleyball on-campus; softball and golf will be paired with Alexander Graham Middle School - tryouts, practices and games will occur at AG. Football will be played on a K8 team, the K8 Cardinals, made up of Marie G. Davis, Collinswood, SAIL, and Rea Farms. Practices and games will be played at Marie G. Davis. For the winter, SAIL will offer cheerleading and boys and girls basketball on-campus. For the spring, SAIL will offer boys and girls soccer on-campus, and baseball will be paired with Alexander Graham Middle School - tryouts, practices and games will occur at AG. Track will be with a K8 team, the K8 Cardinals, made up of Marie G. Davis, Collinswood, SAIL, and Rea Farms. Practices and meets will be held at Marie G. Davis. Please refer to the MS Athletics page for more information.

What exchange trips will my child go on?

The German 5th grade students are the only elementary students who travel internationally, to Lübeck-Schule am Meer. Most exchange trips last approximately 2 weeks. 8th grade French students travel to Limoges, France. 6th-8th grade Japanese students travel to Hiroshima, Japan. 7th and 8th grade German students travel to Ludwigsburg, Germany. 7th and 8th grade Spanish students travel to Barcelona, Spain and 6th-8th grade Chinese students travel to Beijing, China.

Is there a school play my child can take part in?

Every year, SAIL puts on a Musical Production in February for 3 days. The play is open only to Middle School students enrolled in an arts elective. Everyone is welcome to come and see it though! Past productions have included The Lion King, Shrek Jr., and High School Musical.

What security measures does SAIL have?

SAIL has a CMPD resource officer on the premises at all times. There is only one entrance in the front, where the office staff has to ‘buzz’ you in; all other entrances to the school are locked. Once inside the school, you will have to show a piece of identification to sign in. Doors to all classrooms are locked from the outside. Lastly, security cameras are installed throughout the school. There are two metal detectors located at the main entrances: in the front hall and in the cafeteria for the bus lot.

What kind of extracurricular activities does SAIL offer?

Kindergarten students can take part in a few activities after school: chess, Mad Science, lacrosse, and piano lessons. These activities all have a cost. SAIL also offers a few before school activities, starting in the 4th grade, such as chorus. Children in middle school can do WSBN, the news broadcasting service, student council and NJHS.

How does the school communicate with parents?

ParentSquare provides as simple and safe way for everyone at the school to connect to one another. With ParentSquare, parents can receive all school and classroom communication via text, email, or app. Every child will also have a red folder, where information from the teacher can be sent home with your child. Parents can also stay up to date with current events on SAIL’s facebook and Instagram pages. Lastly, current parents may join a private facebook group for current and alumni South Academy of International Language parents.

What awards and recognitions has Waddell/SAIL received?

  • In 2005, the school was a runner-up in the Goldman Sachs Foundation‘s Prize for Excellence in International Education in the elementary and middle school category.
  • In 2012, Waddell was honored with the Melba D. Woodruff Award as Exemplary Elementary Foreign Language Program. The award was sponsored by ACTFL (American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Language), which is the biggest and most influential organization in the USA for Language Education. 
  • In 2017, it was also named a North Carolina Global-Ready school by NC-DPI. 
  • In 2018, the school received the 2018 International Corporate Citizen of the Year by the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. 
  • In 2022, in the first published U.S. News & World Report rankings of K-8 school, Waddell (now S.A.I.L.) was ranked 3rd for its middle school, and 9th for its elementary school, out of 80,000 public schools throughout North Carolina. 
  • In 2017 and again in 2023, it received the LabelFrancEducation seal by the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE) for its incredible program and dedication to the French language. The seal is granted to schools for promoting French language and culture as part of their curriculum.
  • Every year, starting in 2018 to the most recent(2023), the FACE (French American Cultural Exchange) Foundation granted Waddell Language Academy and now S.A.I.L. a French Dual Language Fund to put towards an extension of leveled French classroom libraries. 
  • Magnet Schools of America’s National Merit Awards program honors the top magnet schools in the United States. Waddell has won the Merit School of Excellence and the Merit School of Distinction several years in a row. S.A.I.L. was just recently awarded the 2023 School of Distinction.

How can I get involved with the school?

The Mission of the SAIL PTSO is to promote quality education and a secure personal foundation for the students at South Academy of International Languages. The PTSO strives to serve the needs of the school by assisting in service, financial support and communication to benefit parents, teachers, staff and students. The PTSO helps raise funds through a Fun Run, World Market Night and Invest in Your Child. It helps sponsor the various cultural nights, Teacher Appreciation luncheons, Art Expo etc. Parents can also become involved by volunteering in their own classroom, either by photocopying, coming in to help with a craft, or to read a story. There are many ways to volunteer for the school and the PTSO. In order to do so, parents will need to be a registered volunteer with CMS. You may visit www.cmsvolunteers.com to see what entails registration. Also, please take a moment to browse this website to become more familiar with the PTSO!