Academic Program
Upper School

Modern and Classical Languages

Modern and Classical Languages

The Upper School language program inspires students to make connections among languages and between disciplines. All of the modern language classes stress communication and problem-solving through the practice of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. 
At the beginning and intermediate levels, our Chinese, French and Spanish classes focus on developing oral proficiency, listening comprehension and knowledge of grammar. In advanced classes, students read and discuss longer passages and full-length works, as well as participate in discussions of contemporary issues. In Latin, students continue learning significant grammar and will start reading and translating works of Roman authors in both prose and poetry. Students will understand readings within each writer’s historical context as well as the reception and presentation of the “classical tradition” by subsequent generations. All modern and classical levels aim to nurture global citizenship by raising students’ awareness of diverse perspectives in local and global communities.

Upper School Modern and Classical Languages Curriculum

List of 4 items.

  • Chinese

    Chinese I: Introductory Chinese, Level 1
    The first year of the study of Chinese in the Upper School is designed to develop students' basic communication in Chinese with an emphasis on the acquisition of listening and speaking skills. Reading and writing skills are gradually developed as the course progresses. Hanyu, Pinyin, tones, common radicals and stroke order are introduced and reinforced throughout the year. Topics for the course of study are greetings, family, daily life, and friends.

    Chinese II: Introductory Chinese, Level 2
    In this continuation of topics introduced in Chinese I, communication, reading and writing skills are increasingly developed through the introduction of frequently used Chinese characters, basic grammatical concepts, and a comparative study of English and Chinese languages. Students acquire reading strategies by decoding information from simple texts and street signs found in local Chinese communities. Slides, pictures and films are used to provide visual examples of the language and culture. Popular songs, arts and crafts, and other cultural activities continue to be used at this level to help develop the students' cross-cultural understanding. Major themes of the course include food, directions, health and weather.

    Chinese III: Intermediate Chinese, Level 1 (a continuation of Chinese 8 and Chinese II, open to 9-12)
    In Chinese III, students continue to expand their mastery of the Chinese language through more frequent practice of speaking and listening exercises, creative writing, and extensive reading activities. Vocabulary and grammar concepts are presented and practiced thematically and acquired through the study of short stories. Communicative activities and creative projects are more frequent so as to increase the students' fluency. A comparative study of the East and West further develops cross-cultural consciousness. Independent reading skills are honed. Major themes of the course include food, directions, health and weather.

    Chinese IV: Intermediate Chinese, Level 2
    This fourth-year course emphasizes the development of students' critical thinking and effective communication skills. Chinese IV continues the more intensive training of language skills through the introduction of authentic materials such as: housing advertisements, travel brochures, posters for sport events, and health-warning signs. More advanced grammatical concepts are presented and practiced through the study of short stories, contemporary, and classic poetry and different styles of writing. The major themes for this course of study are: relationships, housing, sports/health, and saying "good-bye." Students are strongly encouraged to explore the opportunities of applying their knowledge and skills outside their class time in a Chinese-speaking community. Grades 10-12.

    Chinese V: Communications in Modern China, Level 1
    Chinese V focuses on the theme of education and its influence on humanity. The course aims to help students develop a higher level of language competence and a deeper understanding of China from a historic, economic and political perspective. As an intermediate-advanced level course, it encompasses more extensive vocabulary terms, phrases and cultural geographic related readings that contribute to students' higher level of proficiency in speaking and writing. The themes include school life, education, its values, food and customs, shopping, computer technology, work and the geography of China. Students discuss and debate current events and issues in order to compare and contrast educational systems and cultures. Grades 11-12.

    Advanced Chinese: Modern Chinese Literature, Film and the Politics of US-China Relations
    This Advanced Chinese course introduces students to a collection of famous works of modern Chinese literature and film that reflect socio-political and cultural practices. This study will deepen students’ understanding and broaden their perspectives of Chinese history and of the dynamics of economic and political power. In addition, articles related to US-China relations and other current events will be explored and discussed in class. Through literary analysis, students will examine texts and discuss the rising power of China and its impact on US-China relations. Students will increase their understanding of advanced vocabulary terms found in formal writing as they practice formal writing techniques. Study of this rich literature will help students improve their ability to write stories, research papers and essays by using rich and vivid expression. Exposure to and discussion of this material will strengthen students’ Chinese fluency and accuracy and build their confidence in the use of cohesive expressions. This work will also deepen their understanding of China-US relations as well as challenge students to build bridges that strengthen the relationship of these two countries and connected nations and cultures. Students will reinforce their reading, writing and communication skills through engaged discussions, debates, research and analytical comparisons. Grades 11-12.
  • French

    French I: Introductory French, Part 1
    French 1 is a beginner-level course that immerses students in French language and culture. Students learn to express themselves in the present and past tenses, in addition to learning vocabulary related to school, family, friends, food, and travel. Students will practice speaking, listening, reading, and writing in classroom activities as well as through exposure to film, short literary excerpts, and paired activities. Grades 9-11.

    French II: Introductory French, Part 2
    French II is a continuation of French I. Students will review the present and past tenses as well as learn the future and conditional tenses. Students will continue to practice their speaking and listening skills with a variety of activities including skits, excerpts from media and dialogues. Students will read more challenging texts in French and write short reaction pieces to them. Grades 9-12.

    French III: Language and Francophone Civilization (a continuation of French 8/French II)
    This course offers a review of key grammar points. The goals of French III are to increase students’ ability to communicate in French, both orally and in writing. Through poetry, readings about French culture and civilization, literary excerpts, film and daily class discussion, students have ample opportunities to practice and master the vocabulary and syntax they need to express their own ideas. The first semester focuses on French and Francophone texts and films, whereas the second semester is devoted to a close reading of Au revoir, les enfants, simultaneously studied as a text and as a film. The work’s setting, a French boarding school during several months of World War II, inspires further discussion of the themes of adolescence education, and history. Grades 9-12.

    French IV: Language through Revolution and Immigration
    This course examines French and Francophone history and current events through the themes of revolution and immigration. This class is also an intensive review and extension of the major tenses and grammar concepts in French. During the first semester, students study North African immigration to France and how immigration impacts identity formation. They will read Le gone du Chaâba to understand the difficulties involved in navigating a dual identity. In the second semester, students read excerpts from the Encyclopédie (Diderot), L’ Histoire des deux Indes, and the novella Ourika. Students present research on both the French and Haitian Revolutions. This course is designed to complement the Grade 10 History curriculum. Grades 9-12.

    French V: Studies in Francophonie
    This course is a thematic approach to Francophone literature and culture. Works include podcasts, poetry, the novel Une vie de boy, and film. Students also review more complicated grammar structures such as the past conditional, hypothetical sentences, and the subjunctive. Students will also learn about current events in the French-speaking world through newspaper articles and podcasts. The course culminates in a final project. Grades 10-12.

    Advanced French: French Literature and History of Ideas
    This course addresses issues of identity, exile, and self-expression through the study of canonical works of French Literature from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, all structured around the theme of courtly love. It examines the historical context that informed these works, in the wake of the encounter with the Arab world in the 12th century. The course also explores the intellectual exile of American cultural others (African-American and homosexual) to Paris and how the humanist intellectual tradition of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment influenced powerful philosophical trends such as Satre's existentialism or Foucault's postmodernism. Assignments are inspired by movies and current political debates (including secularism and free speech) with key emphasis on the emergence of post-colonial identities in France, and the tensions rising between multiculturalism and universalism, within a context of economic globalization. Grades 11-12.
  • Latin

    Latin I: Cambridge Series
    Students in Latin I Cambridge will parachute into Pompeii 79 CE where they will be immersed in the daily lives of Romans in the year of the eruption of Vesuvius. The chapter titles give a strong hint of how learning Latin accompanies the daily routines of the family of Caecilius and their acquaintances: Caecilius, in villa, negotium, in foro, in theatro, Felix, cena, gladiatores, thermae, rhetor, candidati, Vesuvius. Students teach each other about major moments in Roman history and enduring monuments of Rome by delivering a series of reports throughout the year. Additionally, students develop a stronger knowledge of English vocabulary through a study of Latin roots, prefixes and suffixes. Grades 9-11.

    Latin II: Latin via Ovid, Level 2
    Continuing with the method of using Latin via Ovid to learn the essentials of Latin, students translate less and less adapted versions of the myths from Ovid. At this level, they are introduced to more advanced grammar, including the passive voice, participles, and the subjunctive. The myths that students translate this year include Atalanta and Hippomenes, Midas and the Golden Touch, Orpheus and Eurydice, Jason and the Argonauts, and Theseus and the Minotaur. Learning the Greek alphabet accompanies an emphasis on Athens, Greek monuments and English words derived from Greek. Grades 9-12.

    Latin II: Cambridge Series (continuation of Latin 8)
    In this course, students will continue their work in the Cambridge Latin Course from Middle School and work through the third book of the series. By the end of Latin II, students will have been introduced to more advanced forms and grammar, including participles, ablative expressions, passive voice and subjunctive mood. The translations and historical readings of Latin II focus on 1st century CE Roman Britain, where students will learn in-depth about bath complexes, magic and superstition, travel and communication and life in the Roman army. Grades 9-10.

    Latin III: Selected Readings: Roman History Through a Roman Lens
    Continuing to follow the Cambridge Latin series, students will thoroughly review previous concepts and complete advanced grammar topics including the subjunctive, participle, and infinitive constructions. Students will then turn to a survey of Latin literature, translating selections from original works of Roman prose and poetry. Selections from the reader Aeneas to Augustus, A Beginning Latin Reader will include passages from writers such as Velleius Paterculus, Cicero, Livy, Ovid and Virgil, Since the passages trace the history of Rome as the Romans themselves crafted it, the backgrounds, time period, and political climate of each of the authors will provide a platform to explore Roman culture and history from the legendary arrival of Aeneas in Italy through the turbulence of the late Roman Republic and the beginning of the Augustan period. Grades 10-12.

    Latin IV: Readings in Latin literature 
    Translating authentic Latin prose and poetry is the goal of this course. Our first author will be Pliny the Younger, nephew of Rome’s most famous scientist, Pliny the Elder, who died in the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE. Pliny the Younger wrote our only surviving account of what happened to his uncle over the course of the two unimaginable days of destruction. In addition to translating his account in Latin we will investigate the different stages of the ancient eruption with the help of modern volcanology. The second prose author of the first semester is Caesar. Students will translate excerpts from de bello Gallico, Caesar’s first hand account of the Roman conquest of ancient France that changed the face of Europe. Poetry will be the centerpiece of the second semester. Catullus (84-54 BCE) and Ovid (43 BCE-18 CE) are the bookends of an amazing output of Latin poetry. From Catullus, students will translate a wide variety of his poems ranging from love to biting satire and from Ovid, the class will read in Latin the tales of Daphne and Apollo and Orpheus and Eurydice from his epic poem, the Metamorphoses. Grades 11-12.

    Advanced Latin: Vergil's Aeneid
    Students read and discuss selections from Vergil's Aeneid, placing this consummate “national” epic within both its historical context as a poem "celebrating" the achievement of Augustus and its poetic context, as Virgil confronts and expands both the Homeric epic tradition and the Latin epic tradition. Students will explore the poet’s possible purposes and determine his success in crafting Aeneas as an ideal “Roman” hero first by contrasting him with his Homeric models Odysseus and Achilles and then viewing his own behavior in his encounters with various figures, particularly his Carthaginian host Dido and his Italian military rival Turnus. The ultimate question will be: is this undisguised Augustan propaganda or does Vergil’s instance on depicting the devastating suffering left in the wake of Aeneas’ successful completion of his fated mission tarnish the glory of the Roman/Augustan achievement? Grades 11-12.
  • Spanish

    Spanish I: Introductory Spanish, Part 1
    This course provides an introduction to Spanish for beginning students. Basic vocabulary that includes greetings, the classroom and school life, days of the week, months of the year, pastimes, travel and vacation, season, weather, and family members is presented and then practiced through a variety of oral and written exercises. Students learn the conjugations of regular and irregular verbs, the use of descriptive, possessive, and demonstrative adjectives, and the differences between the verbs ser and estar. Throughout the year students use and develop the four main language acquisition skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Cultural readings allow students to learn about history, geography, art, customs, music and traditions of different countries in Central America, South America, Caribbean Islands, and Spain, as well as of Hispanic and Latino people living in the United States. Grades 9-10.

    Spanish II: Introductory Spanish, Part 2 
    Students learn new grammatical structures such as reflexive verbs, direct and indirect object pronouns, demonstrative adjectives and pronouns and the preterite tense, including regular and irregular verbs. Students also continue to expand their vocabulary through thematic units. At this level, students are expected to express their opinions in the target language. They also write short paragraphs and skits in order to further develop their communicative skills. Finally, students deepen their understanding of the cultures of Spanish speaking countries through readings, videos, and student-generated projects. Grades 9-12.

    Spanish III: Intermediate Spanish, Part 1 (continuation of Spanish 8 and Spanish II)
    Spanish III teaches students to communicate with accuracy and fluency at an intermediate level. The course begins with a detailed review of previously learned material, such as the present and preterite tenses, and then introduces more advanced grammatical topics. By the end of the year, students finish learning the indicative mood, including uses of the imperfect, present perfect, pluperfect, future, future perfect, and conditional tenses. Some of the thematic vocabulary units relate to the arts, professions, health, and well-being. Oral presentations and writing assignments are based on various topics of interest. Participation at a more advanced level is expected in this class. Grades 9-11.

    Spanish IV: Intermediate Spanish, Part 2
    Spanish IV is an intermediate-level class. Students in this course review different grammatical structures learned in Spanish III and are introduced to the subjunctive mood. They continue to expand their vocabulary by learning about the media, city life, nature, and the environment, law, types of government, and civil and human rights. Critical and literary readings from Spain and Latin America help students to practice their speaking and writing skills through engagement in class discussions and written assignments. Grades 9-12.

    Spanish V: Composition and Conversation
    In this course, students discuss contemporary social and political topics such as education, public and private entities, social media, and grassroots activism while reviewing grammatical structures for written and oral expression. Critical readings of articles from magazines or newspapers are an essential part of the class work. Compositions, oral presentations, and ongoing grammar activities are included during class time to help students continue to improve their writing and speaking skills. Grades 10-12.

    Advanced Spanish: Literature of the Spanish-Speaking World
    Advanced Spanish is a course in which students read and discuss complete works of literature by authors from Latin America, Spain, and the Diaspora. A deeper knowledge and use of skills are expected at this level. Students discuss and analyze short stories, novels, poetry, essays, plays, articles, films, and art of the Spanish-speaking world. Guided and open-ended discussions, oral presentations, compositions and ongoing grammar activities help students sharpen their writing and speaking skills. Grades 11-12.

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