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Foreign Languages

The Middle School foreign language program introduces students to languages and cultures (past and present) other than their own. Students develop an awareness of the significance of cultural diversity through their exploration of different languages and customs.

Grades 5 & 6 - Introduction to Language

Grade 5

Latin will begin with a study of ancient Roman culture, in concert with their history class, and students will also learn Roman numerals. Other topics will include adjective and noun agreement in Latin, as well as work with gender and number. Finally, students will spend time in the Collaborative Design Lab, exploring the arch and other Roman technological innovations. Students who choose to continue with Latin after 5th grade can potentially enter the Upper School with advanced standing in their language course.

Grade 6

The primary objective of this course is to strengthen students' English-language skills through Latin while inspiring enthusiasm for world-language study. For many students, the study of Latin is their first experience with a language other than English.

A secondary goal for this course is to offer students a sense of what it would be like to study Chinese, French, and Spanish in greater depth. In the second half of the year, students take mini-courses in those languages. Exposure to all four enables students to make a well-informed decision when choosing the language they will pursue in 7th and 8th grades.

Class materials draw from a variety of media including print, CDs, and films. Course activities include collaborative work, cultural projects, and online activities.

Grades 7 & 8 - Foreign Languages

At the end of the 6th grade, students choose to study Chinese, French, Latin, or Spanish for the next two years. Successful completion of a two-year middle school foreign language course is equivalent to one year of upper school foreign language study and allows qualified students to enroll in the second- level course (Chinese II, French II, Latin II, or Spanish II) for 9th grade.

Chinese

Chinese students concentrate on speaking Mandarin tones correctly, writing Chinese characters neatly in correct stroke order, and familiarizing themselves with basic Chinese sentence structures. They also learn about Chinese culture through research projects on major festivals, watching movies, singing Chinese children's songs, and playing Chinese games.

French and Spanish

French and Spanish students focus on mastering four essential language skills: reading, writing, speaking, and understanding.

Students learn the basics of grammar and vocabulary with emphasis on communication. Spanish classes delve into the cultures of Spain and Latin America, while French students learn about France and other French-speaking countries in Africa and around the world. Target-language proficiency is enhanced as students practice through communicative activities such as

  • Conversing in paired dialogues
  • Participating in role-playing activities
  • Singing popular songs
  • Making oral presentations
  • Watching DVDs and authentic videos and engaging in interactive, technology-based scenarios

Latin

In 7th grade Latin, students focus on Latin grammar, syntax, and vocabulary with translation as the goal. Additional objectives are to reinforce understanding of English grammar and parts of speech and to enhance English vocabulary. Students explore Roman history, culture, and mythology as they appear in the readings they translate.

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