Foreign Language

Foreign language study through the third year is required for graduation. Students are placed in a course according to interest, ability, preparation, and prior language background. Sections designated IV or V provide preparation for the SAT Subject Tests. It is expected that all students enrolled in AP Language courses will register for the Advanced Placement Examination.

The foreign language department offers Latin, French, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. In Latin, classes prepare students to read and translate classic works, explore the verbal and rhetorical connection to English, and appreciate the history and culture of the Ancient World. In French, Spanish, and Chinese the goals range from students being able to have basic conversations to being able to read and discuss major works in the target language. Each class is scheduled for a language lab session once every eight class periods for intensive paired work or recording or multi-media activities. Reading, writing, and conversational skills are all stressed and developed throughout the course of study.

The department also strongly urges students to travel to a country where the target language is spoken, or to somehow use the language outside the classroom in order to broaden their experience and ability in the language. To that end, the department organizes trips to Spain, France, Canada, Italy, Peru, and China.


Mandarin Chinese I

This course is for students who have no previous or limited experience with Mandarin Chinese. Students will learn the basic communication skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. In addition to the Pinyin Romanization system, the traditional Mandarin Phonetic Symbols are introduced with the four tones. Students will learn to write the basic characters from 214 radicals in correct stroke-order, and learn to use a traditional Chinese dictionary. Students will learn four songs and eight lessons. Basic grammar and sentence structure are introduced. The curriculum addresses cultural topics via movies, projects and other activities, including Chinese food, calligraphy, and field trips. Materials include: Let’s Learn the Mandarin Alphabet, Let’s Learn Chinese Characters through 214 Radicals, Far East Chinese-English Dictionary, as well as a character-practice workbook. Meets 4 times per week.

Mandarin Chinese II

The course is designed to provide students with skills for more practical and complex situations, to expand vocabulary, and to improve listening and speaking skills through online and language lab activities. Basic grammar is reviewed, and more complicated structures are introduced. Through extensive practice in speaking and writing, students will improve their ability to express themselves in the language. Basic writing skills are developed and practiced. They are able to write a short essay using Chinese word processing. The curriculum focuses on aspects of Chinese culture that are different from life in the United States. Materials include: Conversational Mandarin Chinese I and Learn Mandarin through Chinese Children's Songs. Meets 4 times per week.

Mandarin Chinese III

In Chinese III, students build upon the skills developed in Chinese I and II. Students continue to expand their vocabulary and comprehension skills by reading short articles and singing songs. The course will focus on oral proficiency and writing. The students are engaged in more spontaneous conversations, and in addressing various aspects of Chinese culture. Students will be able to use a traditional dictionary to translate readings into English. They will learn to write a note, a letter, and a short story. Research projects and presentations increase students’ control of Chinese grammatical structures. Materials include Conversational Mandarin Chinese I and Life and Death in Shanghai. Meets four times per week.

Mandarin Chinese IV

The course includes frequent oral presentations and written assignments. Students continue to hone their speaking and listening skills and improve their reading and writing abilities. Through the reading and discussion of Chinese newspaper and magazine articles, students solidify previously learned grammatical structures and expression. Extensive readings provide the basis for vocabulary-building and class discussion. Selective movies and clips are to be viewed to deepen students’ knowledge and understanding of Chinese culture and traditions. Materials include Conversational Mandarin Chinese I. Meets 4 times per week.


French I

French I is the initial course of study for students of French language, literature, and culture. A thorough preparation in the basics of French grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation is provided, and emphasis is placed on equipping the student with the skills for continued language study. To this end, the class is conducted, as much as is viable, in the French language. Meets 4 times per week.

French II and II Honors

In French II, the skills and activities of French I are reinforced and broadened, enabling students to become more sophisticated and proficient in expression. Reading abridged works of fiction and writing short reports and detailed narratives are integral parts of the course. The primary goal of the second year curriculum is to enhance students' proficiency in the four basic language skills of speaking, listening, reading, and writing in order to prepare them for advanced study in French. French II Honors is an accelerated class. Meets 4 times per week.

French III and III Honors

In the third year of study, the emphasis is on the understanding of advanced grammar and vocabulary and its application in written and oral reports. Reports are longer and more sophisticated, and involve both narrative and expository situations; students are expected both to become relatively fluent in the language and to keep a journal in French. Unabridged listening and written material from the Francophone world are used to enhance comprehension and appreciation of culture. Readings in French literature consist of excerpts of poetry and the novel genre chosen to enhance and improve the student's reading comprehension. French III Honors is an accelerated class. Meets 4 times per week.

French IV

A focus of this course is to enable students to become proficient in the French world and to expand their reading and listening comprehension skills via authentic materials. Students engage in refining a variety of study skills and techniques that seek to elicit creative and imaginary responses in the target language. Reading selections vary according to the ability and interest level of the class. Class discussions are conducted in French. Meets 4 times per week.

French IV Honors

This is a course for advanced students who are highly proficient in all aspects of the French language. Widening the lens to explore Francophone culture, history and current events, a wide variety of written and spoken sources are used to hone all language skills. Written expression focuses on the ability to synthesize sources, develop thoughtful ideas, and write with a command of grammar and idiomatic expression. There is increased potential for intellectual and creative pursuits, independent study, cooperative learning, and more student involvement in preparation of class materials. While most grammar is studied “en contexte,” students review all aspects of advanced grammar, idioms, and vocabulary. Meets 4 times per week.

French V

This class is for students wishing to continue their French studies, typically in their senior year. The emphasis is on the honing of all skills, with a view to keeping them active in preparation for continued study in college. Students explore French culture and literature, both in France and in Francophone countries throughout the world. The sweep is wide, with everything from cinema, music and cuisine to politics and current events fair game for study here. Meets 4 times per week.

French AP Language and Culture

This course prepares advanced students for the AP examination in French Language and Culture using a wide variety of text and audio sources. A holistic approach is taken that more than ever accents communicative and cultural proficiency, while developing interpretive, interpersonal and presentational skills. Students explore global, cultural issues in both contemporary and historical contexts. They develop the ability to make comparisons between cultures, with particular emphasis on the Francophone world, and their exploration is thematically structured. Written and oral expression focuses on the ability to synthesize sources, develop thoughtful ideas, and communicate with a command of grammar and idiomatic expression. Meets 4 times per week.


Latin I

Using the Latina Lingua: Familia Romana and Ecce Romani I texts, students learn to read, write, and speak Latin. Instruction is given primarily in Latin and stresses both fluent reading and detailed syntax analysis. The course addresses both English and Latin grammatical structure. Students examine the history and culture of the Roman Monarchy, Republic, and Empire. Various handouts are used and projects assigned throughout the year to complement grammar with myth, culture, and history. Meets 4 times per week.

Latin II and II Honors

After reviewing the concepts of the Ecce Romani I text, students delve into an investigation of Ecce Romani II (chapters 28 through 54 in the series). This intensive study virtually completes the textual study of grammar, leaving the succeeding years for literature and grammar study through reading and composition. Further study of key elements of the history and culture during both the Republic and Empire are explored. Various handouts are used and projects assigned throughout the year to reinforce student knowledge in preparation for the National Latin Exam in the spring. While both Latin II and Latin II Honors operate from a similar syllabus, students in Latin II Honors move at a more rigorous pace as they continue a path leading toward study in advanced literature courses in the coming years. Meets 4 times per week.

Latin III and III Honors

This course embarks upon the study of Ecce Romani III and introduces students to the works of the Roman historian Eutropius. After foundational work in historical readings, students translate, analyze, and discuss prose selections from Julius Caesar, Cicero, Asconius, and Augustus. Students are further introduced to the poetry of Catullus, Horace, Ovid, and Vergil, as time permits. Latin III Honors is an accelerated class and is considered to be the first in a two- year language cycle that prepares students for study in the Advanced Placement Latin course. Students must show a sound understanding of Latin grammar and syntax and must display a high proficiency in vocabulary in order to proceed to Latin IV Honors. Various handouts are used throughout the year to complement grammar and literature with myth, culture, and history. Meets 4 times per week.

Latin IV Honors

Students read and discuss selections such as Caesar’s Commentaries , Ovid’s Amores, Metamorphoses, Ars Amatoria . Emphasis is placed on greater depth of understanding and greater sophistication in literary analysis. In the spring, students begin some study of Vergil’s Aeneidand dactylic hexameter as well as read The Aeneidin English in order to get an introduction for AP Latin. Latin IV Honors moves at a pace appropriate for preparing students for the work of AP Latin --Vergil and Caesar in the following year. Meets 4 times per week.

Latin IV and Latin V

This class focuses on Latin literature and on connecting contemporary life, literature, and media to Classical Greece and Rome. Students read the literature of Caesar, Cicero, Vergil, Ovid, Pliny, depending on the year. (Each year teacher alternates syllabus to accommodate students who are in Latin V.) To heighten understanding of this literature, history, and culture, students read novels in English; do research projects; do creative projects. Meets 4 times per week.

AP Latin (Vergil, Caesar)

The required syllabus includes readings in Latin and English from Vergil’s Aeneid and Caesar’s Commentaries of the Gallic War. Reading articles and essays, as well as certain parts of the Vergil and the Caesar, and doing research projects help students identify significant themes, central characters, and key ideas in the Latin passages; students also explore the context of the writings. To develop students’ ability to read Latin at sight, students will read authors such as Nepos, Cicero (but not his letters), Livy, Pliny the Younger, and Seneca the Younger rather than Tacitus or Sallust. Verse authors include Ovid, Martial, Tibullus, and Catullus, rather than Horace, Juvenal, or Lucan. Meets 4 times a week.


Spanish I

In the first year of Spanish, students are encouraged to speak the language from the first day of class. Throughout the year, emphasis is placed on the acquisition of oral and aural proficiency, as well as the development of writing skills. Students will learn and review grammar that is appropriate for a first-year language course. Meets 4 times per week.

Spanish II and II Honors

After a complete review of grammar from Spanish I, students progress through the structure of the language, including some uses of the subjunctive. The concentration on aural-oral skills continues with focus on oral proficiency. Written work becomes longer and more sophisticated, and reading assignments are used to introduce students to cultural topics as well as more complex language. The focus is both Spain and Latin America. The inherent goal of the second year language program is preparation for more advanced study in the language, where classes are conducted solely in Spanish. Meets 4 times per week.

Spanish III

By the end of third year Spanish students have seen and practiced most elements of the Spanish language, including all of the indicative tenses, grammatical concepts and many topics within the subjunctive. Students work on expanding their vocabulary and on using idiomatic language in "authentic" classroom situations. Students study the history and culture of Mexico through literature, lectures, and slide shows. Aural-oral skills, as well as continued progress and development in reading and writing in the target language continue to be of major importance. Meets 4 times per week.

Spanish III Honors

This course includes a comprehensive review of grammar and structure with a focus on improving students’ speaking and writing. First semester readings focus on Mexican culture and history, which are studied in great depth. During the second semester students read a variety of articles on topics including science and technology, the environment, history, politics, education, sports, the arts, etc. Essay writing includes cultural analysis, compare and contrast and argumentative essays. Authentic language materials are used from a wide variety of sources. Speaking activities are done daily and students regularly give oral presentations of 3-5 minutes. Meets 4 times per week.

Spanish IV

Students in this course undertake a comprehensive review of Spanish grammar with a view to taking the SAT Subject Test. The focus of this course is to enable students to become more proficient in using the target language, and to expand their auditory comprehension via authentic materials and use of the language laboratory. Students refine their writing and reading skills through a survey of Spanish and Latin American literature as well as Hispanic writers in the US. Meets 4 times per week.

Spanish IV Honors

Students in this course undertake a comprehensive review of Spanish grammar with a view to taking the SAT Subject Test. In addition, students begin to focus specifically on the topics and skills required by the AP exam which students will take the following year. The focus of this course is to enable students to not only become more proficient in using the target language but to also broaden their knowledge of the social and political landscape of the Hispanic world. In addition, students expand their auditory comprehension via authentic materials and use of the language laboratory. Meets 4 times per week.

Spanish V

This course is a survey of Hispanic literature, a review of all grammar topics, as well as small group and paired activities to improve speaking skills. Oral presentations of 3-10 minutes are given frequently. Fragments from longer works and complete short stories from authors such as Borges, Marquez, Neruda and Allende expose students to the panorama of the Hispanic world. A variety of Latin American cultural themes are examined in depth. Meets 4 times per week.

AP Spanish Language and Culture

This course develops advanced Spanish language skills as we focus on Latin American and Spanish culture, history, and current events. A wide variety of written and spoken sources are used to develop the speaking, listening, reading and writing skills necessary to meet success on the AP exam. Grammar study flows naturally from work on writing and speaking. Essay writing focuses on the ability to synthesize sources, create a thesis statement and write cleanly. The goal of speaking activities is to express ideas clearly in idiomatic Spanish, both in a conversation and presentation format. AP Exam practice is ongoing throughout the year as students work to master the Exam requirements. Meets 4 times per week.

Elective Courses

Prerequisite: second year of any language

Hispanic History and Culture I and II

The purpose of this course is to develop an understanding and appreciation of Hispanic people, history, culture and literature. Sources will include books, Internet sources, newspapers, guest speakers and movies. Many topics will be examined including literature, politics, race, foods, religion, values, music, art, family, social classes, sports and holidays. This course will be offered in two parts, one during each semester. You may sign up for both semesters or take only one or the other. It may be combined with a History semester course to make one major for the year. Semester one will begin with Spain's prehistory and go through the age of exploration and conquest. Semester two will cover the colonization and later independence movements in Latin America as well as modern art movements. (Offered to Juniors and Seniors. This course may satisfy the third-year language requirement, with permission of the department head) This course satisfies the requirements for the Global Scholars Program if the students has already completed Level III of a foreign language. Meets 4 times per week.