Foreign Language

The mission of our Foreign Language Department is to provide excellence in French, Mandarin Chinese, and Spanish language instruction so our students are proficient in at least one language other than English.

Our courses take a multidisciplinary approach to the study of language so that students make important connections among a variety of subjects. Our curriculum fosters a sense of humanity by promoting an understanding and appreciation of different customs, thought patterns, cultural values, and histories. Through their foreign language studies, our students also develop the skills necessary for them to be successful in the 21st century: leadership, collaboration, communication, technological fluency, creativity, and problem solving.


Foreign language courses

French 1

Students learn the essentials of French for common situations such as school, family, daily activities, vacations, and holidays. They learn to ask and answer questions, exchange opinions, express likes and dislikes, and talk about people, places, activities, plans, obligations, needs, and personal preferences. Students learn functional activities such as telling time, counting, exchanging telephone numbers, and talking about the weather. Additionally, French and francophone culture is introduced, with an emphasis on the comparison and contrast of current cultural realities in the U.S. versus those in French-speaking countries.

French 2

Students build on essential communication skills and move beyond formulaic expression by experimenting intuitively and taking risks with language through such strategies as circumlocution, cognates, and word-formation. Students begin to narrate in a more complex manner and expand their understanding and command of written and spoken French. They learn the art of persuasion in French and expand their knowledge of French history, culture, and customs.

French 3

At the French 3 level, students are expected to be proficient in French. They read and discuss journalistic and cultural articles as well as some literary works. Key grammatical topics are reviewed and expanded. Mastery of advanced grammar allows students to express themselves with greater sophistication. Composition topics are oriented toward personal experiences, opinions, and issues of contemporary life. Discussions often center on cultural issues and current events in French-speaking countries.

French 3 Honors

The French 3 Honors curriculum is a fast-paced, challenging course with emphasis on rapid expansion of vocabulary and grammar. Excellence in listening and writing is stressed. Students do research projects and class presentations on relevant, contemporary topics. They also learn about the European Union and women and leadership in a French context.

French 4

This course is designed specifically for students who wish to pursue their study of French beyond the language requirement for graduation. While students concentrate on developing their speaking, listening, reading, and writing proficiency, emphasis is placed on speaking and listening comprehension. Course materials include contemporary newspaper articles, short literary works, films, DVDs and online French realia.

Advanced Placement French Language and Culture

Students who take the Advanced Placement French Language course are expected to develop listening, speaking, reading, and writing fluency. The AP French sequence is structured to advance the appropriate level of proficiency in all four skill areas. The materials used to achieve this objective are challenging and varied: a grammar review/exercise book; newspaper articles; works of literature such as short stories, poems, and plays; essays; assigned in- and out-of-class writing; group writing; radio and television programs; interactive multimedia programs; and student presentations.

Chinese 1

This beginning course teaches students the essentials of Mandarin Chinese and develops their basic speaking, listening, reading, and writing (both pinyin and characters) proficiency. Students learn to ask and answer questions, exchange opinions, express likes and dislikes, and talk about people, places, activities, plans, obligations, needs, and personal preferences. Students learn functional activities such as telling time, counting, exchanging telephone numbers, and talking about the weather. Chinese history and culture are also introduced, with an emphasis on the comparison and contrast of current cultural realities in the U.S. versus those in China.

Chinese 2

Chinese 2 students build on essential communication skills by moving beyond formulaic expression through intuitive experimentation and taking risks with language through strategies such as circumlocution and word-formation. Students begin to narrate in a more complex manner and expand their understanding and command of written and spoken Mandarin. Students continue to build their breadth of vocabulary and characters. Chinese culture and history are also essential elements of the course.

Chinese 3

In Chinese 3, students strengthen their proficiency through a review of key grammar points and characters. They develop more complex vocabulary and sentence structure through readings of authentic language materials. Composition topics focus on personal experiences, expression of opinions, and contemporary life. Class discussions, individual projects, and group work often center on historical and cultural issues as well as current events in China.

Chinese 3 Honors

The Chinese 3 Honors curriculum is fast-paced and challenging with the aim to boost fluency by expanding a student's vocabulary and grammar. Students study Chinese culture and history through a variety of authentic language materials and present their findings in class presentations.

Advanced Placement Chinese Language and Culture

This advanced Chinese course provides students with a deeper understanding of the Chinese language and culture. A holistic approach is taken to language acquisition of interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational communicative skills specified in the National Standards for Foreign Languages. The course aims to intertwine meaningful real-life language tasks that enhance vocabulary usage, communicative strategies, reading comprehension, linguistic accuracy, and cultural awareness and appreciation.

Chinese 4

This course is designed for advanced Chinese language learners and focuses on cultivating fluency. To achieve this, students engage in functional and communicative activities such as dialogues, role playing, and presentations to develop their skills in the four major areas of language acquisition: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Authentic language materials (e.g. online tools, videos, advertisements, books, poetry, newspapers, magazines, etc.) are used to expand vocabulary, polish grammar, and build on character writing and recognition skills. Lessons and readings on Chinese culture and history are an essential element of the course.

Spanish 1

Students learn the essentials of Spanish in order to communicate in common situations involving school, family, daily activities, vacations, and holidays. Students learn to ask and answer questions, exchange opinions, express likes and dislikes, and talk about people, places, activities, plans, obligations, needs, and personal preferences. Students learn functional activities such as telling time, counting, exchanging telephone numbers, and talking about the weather. Hispanic history and culture are also introduced.

Spanish 2

Students continue to acquire proficiency in Spanish 2 by moving beyond formulaic expression. Emphasis is placed on risk-taking and intuitive experimentation with the Spanish language through strategies such as circumlocution, cognates, and word-formation. Students begin to narrate more complex stories; to express opinions, beliefs, hopes, and desires in a more sophisticated manner; and to learn the art of persuasion in Spanish. Culture continues to be presented as an essential element to language learning. Students write compositions, produce individual projects, give oral presentations, and do group work to build fluency.

Spanish 3

Communicative activities continue to be emphasized in this intermediate-level Spanish course. Students read and discuss journalistic and cultural articles as well as some literary works. Advanced grammar is reviewed and refined in depth, adding more complex elements of style to students' expressive abilities. Composition topics are oriented toward personal experiences, opinions, and issues of contemporary life. Discussions often center on cultural issues and current events in Spanish-speaking countries. Students learn to comprehend longer spoken passages through Spanish television, film segments, and short lectures or speeches.

Spanish 3 Honors

The Spanish 3 Honors curriculum is fast-paced and challenging; its goal is to expand the student’s vocabulary and grammar so as to boost fluency. Excellence in listening and writing is stressed. Students do research projects and class presentations on relevant, contemporary topics. Students study Hispanic history and culture and use a variety of authentic language materials from the Internet. This course prepares students for the Advanced Placement Spanish Language and Culture course.

Spanish 4

This course is designed specifically for students who wish to pursue their study of Spanish beyond the language requirement for graduation. Students concentrate on developing their speaking, listening, reading, and writing proficiency, but building strong speaking skills is the emphasis. The course includes the use of a wide variety of authentic language materials such as newspaper articles, short literary works, films, and advertisements.

Advanced Placement Spanish Language and Culture

This course provides students the training necessary to develop fluency in Spanish and to pass the AP Spanish Language and Culture examination. Students are expected to function at the same level of competence as a third-year college student with respect to Spanish listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. The materials are challenging and varied: a grammar review/exercise book; newspaper articles; complete works of literature such as short stories, poems, and plays; essays; journal writing; assigned and in-class writing; group writing; radio and television programs; interactive multimedia programs and student presentations; and an Advanced Placement book and CD of practice examination questions. Students build upon their knowledge of Peninsular and Latin American history and culture and work to integrate their language skills.

Advanced Placement Spanish Literature and Culture

The course introduces students to a representative body of literary texts produced by Spanish and Latin American authors. The readings expose students to a variety of literary genres, tracing the history of Spanish prose from the Middle Ages to the present. Through the texts studied, students develop a deeper understanding of Hispanic history and culture. The skills of reading, writing, speaking, and understanding are integrated through regular exercise of the three communication modes: interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational.

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