The World Languages Department promotes language both as a means of communication among people and as a reflection of the cultures of specific peoples. The goal of the department is to develop the intellectual curiosity and cultural sensitivity of our students as they become citizens in a global community. In order to achieve this, students are immersed in their chosen language and experience a curriculum that blends usage with artistic and cultural heritage.
We offer French, Latin, and Spanish. French and Spanish stress the communicative aspects of language learning: developing skills in understanding, speaking, reading and writing the language. The Latin course is designed not simply to treat Rome as a civilization of the past, but also to emphasize its cultural and linguistic relevance to modern society. All three programs foster an appreciation for culture and for interdisciplinary connections to history, the arts, literature and science.
Additionally, our program offers students opportunities to explore French, Latin and Spanish beyond the traditional classroom. Many students enhance their experience through membership in clubs and honor societies, and students may complement their language study through immersion and community service abroad.
French Course Descriptions
French 1 is designed for students with very limited or no experience with the French language. Students develop the skills of listening, reading, speaking, and writing within units that present authentic written and audiovisual documents from the French speaking world. The course strongly emphasizes phonetics, listening comprehension, and vocabulary development. At the end of this course, students will be able to converse with sympathetic native French speakers using appropriate greetings and by discussing school subjects and classes, family and friends, pastimes, foods, and traditions. Students in all levels of French have the opportunity to attend the yearly Colcoa French Film Festival.
Students will continue to develop the skills of listening, reading, speaking, and writing while analyzing authentic written and audiovisual documents from the French speaking world. The course weaves reading, listening, and phonetics into daily study and emphasizes the accomplishment of everyday and survival tasks in French. Mechanics of verb tenses as well as the development of writing and editing skills in a foreign language are also integral to the course. Students converse in French using both past and present tenses about geography, daily activities, travels, health, sports, cultural events, and technology. Students in French 2 and above spend an immersion day at the Norton Simon Museum.
French 3 and French 3 (H)
In this course, students build on core language skills while expanding their cultural competency. The course emphasizes the cultural diversity of both mainland France and the Francophone world at large, with an emphasis on the linguistic context in West Africa, the Caribbean, Louisiana, and Quebec. Students begin to make more sophisticated comparisons between their own community and French speakers around the world, with an emphasis on artistic traditions as well as cultural norms and attitudes. Students are asked to simulate real-life tasks and problem-solve using the language. Students exchange messages with high school students in Quebec or France, as well as participate in a project through the Peace Corps World Wise Schools program. Some sections may be designated honors.
French 4 builds on communicative skills while asking students to analyze longer and more complex written and audiovisual materials. Students continue to make sophisticated cultural comparisons between their own community and the French-speaking communities around the world, with an emphasis on cities, family structures, education systems, food pathways, religion, rites of passage, national identity, and ways of living. The first semester focuses on listening, speaking, and writing skills in the context of contemporary topics and controversies, while the second semester makes connections between current events and French history through discussions of film and literature. Students exchange messages with high school students in Quebec or France, as well as participate in a project through the Peace Corps WorldWise Schools program.
AP French Language and Culture
This course improves proficiency in speaking, writing, listening, and reading. Students enrich their cultural knowledge about the Francophone world in six broad domains: world challenges, aesthetics, science and technology, family and communities, contemporary Life, and personal and public identities. Students analyze and synthesize authentic materials from the Francophone world, including news broadcasts, literature, poetry, films, advertisements, and magazine articles. Assignments such as essays, debates, Socratic seminars, and oral presentations emphasize communication of meaning and problem-solving in French while still focusing on grammatical accuracy. Students who are successful in this course will be qualified to take the AP exam.
Latin Course Descriptions
This course introduces students to the fundamentals of Latin, providing opportunities to translate from Latin to English and vice versa. Students frequently compared the grammar of both languages. The course pays special attention to the Latin roots of English vocabulary and to other aspects of Roman civilization which have influenced the modern world.
Students continue to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the Latin language with more advanced grammar and morphology, as well as a closer look at how to carry meaning between Latin and English in translation. In addition to learning more about the customs and circumstances of urban life in ancient Rome, students center their study of history and culture on Rome’s transition from Republic to Empire. The course focuses on legendary figures such as Caesar and Augustus whose stories blur the line between history and mythology and are crucial to the foundation of Western civilization as we know it.
Following a review of forms and grammar, students read a variety of works in Latin. Each quarter focuses on a specific topic. In the first quarter, students read about mythology with passages from Jason and the Argonauts and Seneca’s Medea. In the second quarter, they read passages from the Vulgate and assorted Medieval/Renaissance writers. The third quarter moves back to classical Latin with passages from Cicero’s letters and discussion of his oratory in general. The year ends with the lyric poetry of Catullus.
Latin 4 and Latin 4 (H)
This course continues with the lyric poetry of Catullus that began in Latin 3. Students read a substantial portion of his opus. In addition to translation, students scan a variety of meters and analyze the use of figures of rhetoric. After Catullus, students make the transition to the lyric poetry of Horace with a smaller but equally important sampling. Students spend the remainder of the year with Virgil’s Aeneid, reading passages from Books I and IV in Latin and most of the six books in English. Here students can explore many facets of the Roman epic in general, as well as Virgil’s influence both on his age and our own. Some sections may be designated honors, with additional reading and analytical writing.
Spanish Course Descriptions
This course is an introduction to the formal and classical study of Spanish. It emphasizes daily reading, writing, listening, and speaking, along with grammatical structures in real-world contexts. Students learn an array of vocabulary covering themes like family and friends, hobbies, school life, vacations, sports, and daily routines. The course highlights similarities and differences between the Hispanic and American cultures, with assessments through interpersonal and presentational modes of communication. In the second semester, students communicate via video conference with students in our Nicaraguan partner school. Technology for audio, video, and online resources further facilitates language acquisition and enhances familiarity with cultures from the Spanish-speaking world.
Spanish 2 and Spanish 2 (H)
Spanish 2 continues to emphasize the skills taught in Spanish 1. Reading comprehension and oral communication skills continue to be an integral part of the program. At this level, language instruction emphasizes the various Spanish verb tenses. In preparation for the more advanced courses, the students use their writing skills to develop compositions. Through speaking and writing, students continue to emphasize presentational skills and interpersonal modes of communication. Students also continue their study of Hispanic culture. Some sections will be designated honors, which is a prerequisite for Spanish 3H.
Spanish 3 and Spanish 3 (H)
In the Spanish 3 course, students continue to develop a strong communicative ability in Spanish in the interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational modes. The course places special emphasis on communicative accuracy and fluency, whether through conversing face-to-face, making oral presentations, writing blogs, or reading literature. Throughout the year, the course exposes students to a variety of authentic sources in Spanish in order for students better to understand the language and culture. Through engagement with the language, students make connections to their own experience through an awareness of the cultural perspectives of the Spanish-speaking peoples.
This course provides additional practice to help students attain a higher level of linguistic accuracy and skill development, in listening, speaking, reading and writing. The course emphasizes a skills-based approach in which students gain mastery of the language through a considerable amount of discussion, reading and writing on a variety of contemporary topics. The course concentrates on expanding vocabulary and strengthening grammatical accuracy as an aid to overcome any communication problems. The cultural study of Spain and Latin America is an integral component of this course. Music, film and literature appear throughout the course to enhance students’ understanding of Hispanic culture and society.
AP Spanish Language and Culture
This course is a continuation of students’ study of the Spanish language and Hispanic communities and enables students to further refine their command of the language and deepen their familiarity with and understanding of the culture(s) of the Spanish-speaking world. Throughout the AP curriculum, students are exposed to authentic written, audio and visual materials that allow them to hone their understanding of the language and culture and provide a diverse learning experience both in and out of the classroom. The course focuses on six content areas: Families and communities, personal and public identities, contemporary life, science and technology, global challenges and beauty and aesthetics. Students engage in interpersonal, interpretative and presentational communication. In addition to the classroom experience, this class encourages students to communicate outside of the classroom and experience the language in real-life, to connect with the local community, and to deepen their understanding of the language and culture. Teacher recommendation required. Students who are successful in this course will be qualified to take the AP exam.
AP Spanish Literature and Culture
The AP Spanish Literature and Culture course introduces the breadth and depth of Hispanic Literature through the study of different authors, genres, and cultural movements in Spain and Latin America. The course focuses on several thematic areas to enrich students’ understanding of Spanish and Latin American literature: societies in contact, gender and identity, space and time, interpersonal relationships and literary creation. Students read, analyze and discuss works in Spanish. Literary criticism, film, music, art, and other authentic sources serve to enhance students’ understanding of these works. The course emphasizes the relationship between texts and literary movements and allows students to better appreciate the Hispanic culture. Students who are successful in this course will be qualified to take the AP exam.
Mandarin Course Descriptions
This introductory level course is designed for students with little or no Chinese language background. Students will build their fundamental skills in speaking, listening, reading and writing. Mandarin 1 will establish a solid language foundation, give the ability to speak and recognize the correct tones, teach how characters are interpreted, build an understanding of Chinese culture, and also develop logical thinking. Chinese traditional culture and modern society along with a global perspective will provide context for language acquisition. In the language learning process, this introductory Chinese class pays attention to practicality and the exceptional nature of language expression. When learning different topics and acquiring the basic vocabulary, modern Chinese media, idioms, historical allusions, and ancient poetry will enhance learning. Topics to be covered include Chinese culture and values, festivals, family and social structure, school and education, diet and health, sports and hobbies, Chinese history and current events, etc. Students who successfully complete Mandarin 1 will enter Mandarin 2.
The Mandarin 2 course is an advanced language course continuing from Mandarin 1. In this course, students will review the vocabulary, sentences, and expressions learned in Mandarin 1. expand and deepen the mastery and cognition of the topics; learn to use more advanced expressions; strive for precise grammar. Mandarin 2 will focus more on training dialogue and presentation of language paragraphs. Students will participate collaboratively in guided conversations and presentations in both written and oral format on their way to progress through the proficiency levels towards a higher level. Students will simultaneously deepen the understanding of Chinese culture and thought. Topics to be covered include Chinese culture and values, festivals, family and social structure, school and education, diet and health, sports and hobbies, Chinese history and current events, etc. Mandarin 2 aims to consolidate language foundation, and further improve language ability, dialogue skill, and expression ability. Students who successfully complete Mandarin 2 will enter Mandarin 3.