Modern and Classical Languages
The middle school language program is a four-year experience introducing students to the fundamentals of language acquisition and the linguistic elements of the target language. Fifth graders are introduced to the study of language and culture, spending one trimester each studying French, Mandarin and Spanish. All sixth graders take a full year of Latin and in grade 7, students begin a two-year journey in a language selected from our four offerings: French, Latin, Mandarin, or Spanish.
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Students who enter Masters in grade 5 get a sampling of Mandarin, French and Spanish for one term each. Instructors offer light, lively lessons that help create a fun context for language learning.
In Introduction to Latin & Language Learning, students learn to understand the common elements of Spanish, French, and English. Coursework covers Latin vocabulary and grammar with emphasis on elements also reflected in the English curriculum. We explore these concepts through rich discussions about Roman culture including transportation, city life, society, gladiators, and slavery. While the immediate goal of this introductory course is to achieve reading ability in Latin, the ultimate objective is to improve students’ ability to acquire any foreign language—ancient or modern.
The language students choose for their seventh grade year—French, Latin, Mandarin, or Spanish—carries through into eighth grade. These Level A courses emphasize self-expression and cultural insight through the reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills of the target language. Course content relies heavily on cultural studies and traditions. Given the diverse cultural-linguistic backgrounds of our community, teachers differentiate their instruction since some students enter a language program with previous knowledge of, or exposure to, that language.
Level B courses in French, Latin, Mandarin, and Spanish continue the emphasis on reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills as both the pace and expected proficiency increase. Students pursue deeper and richer study of the history, culture, and traditions of native speakers. By the end of their two-year language experience, successful students are ready to place into Upper School French 2, Latin 2, Mandarin 2, or Spanish 2 courses.