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Foreign Languages

The foreign-language programs seek to equip students with the linguistic and cultural proficiency that affords command and ease of communication. Each modern-language program cultivates the fundamental skills required for authentic interaction in a wide spectrum of situations and environments. Students learn to speak, write, read, and listen with increasing sophistication as the range of their vocabulary expands, their grasp of grammar solidifies, and their comprehension and manner of expression become more finely attuned to social and cultural nuance. The curriculum offers six languages of instruction: Latin; two oriental languages: Mandarin Chinese and Japanese; and three modern Romance languages: French, Italian, and Spanish. The modern-language programs culminate in near-native fluency for all students. Students of Latin will develop the ability to read authentic Latin. In all languages of instruction, the curriculum jointly advances linguistic competence, through the structured study of vocabulary, grammar, and syntax, and cultural literacy, through the study of national heritage, customs, and traditions.

Description of Programs

Foreign-language study commences in the Lower Division. In the first grade, students are introduced to French and Spanish through multi-faceted activities that familiarize young learners with the inflections of Romance languages. Students choose with which language to continue. From second through fifth grade, French and Spanish classes are held twice a week, in which students acquire conversational proficiency.

In the Middle Division, all students continue the formal study of either French or Spanish. In addition, they may elect to study Latin, which is offered in a three-year sequence of half-credit courses. Spanish and French are taught in an immersion environment that enriches oral communication. Classes are held in the language lab on a regular basis. Extracurricular activities provide the students with opportunities to exploit their newly acquired skills throughout the year, including study trips abroad at the beginning of summer. The curriculum offers accelerated classes in French and Spanish for seventh- and eighth-grade students who can thrive in a more challenging environment. Students wishing to switch to a different foreign language may do so at the beginning of eighth grade, when they are eligible to enroll in entry-level Upper Division courses. They may choose from among Mandarin Chinese, French, Japanese, Italian, or Spanish.

The Upper Division foreign language curriculum rests on a dynamic integration of the study of grammar, syntax, and culture through students’ continued exploration of and exposure to authentic source material, including literary and expository texts, films, and online media. Students may select Mandarin Chinese, French, Japanese, Italian, Latin, and Spanish as their primary language. The curriculum incorporates extensive use of technology, including bi-weekly use of the language laboratory, and is complemented by field trips and celebrations of national cultures and holidays. Having fulfilled graduation requirements in their primary foreign language, students may elect to study a second foreign language. Each language program offers Honors and Advanced Placement courses, commensurate with student interest and ability. 

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