World Languages in Upper School 1
Our World Languages Department is focused on creating proficiency-based courses, with curriculum aligned to the standards and guidelines of the ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages). Teachers are dedicated to providing a dynamic, student-centered language acquisition experience. Students in Upper School may choose from Latin, Mandarin, and Spanish, and progress one level per year. As of 2017-2018, French is being phased out as a core class.
Latin I immerses students into simple Latin texts which they can intuitively read and inductively learn grammar through. Students learn how to analyze sentence structure and grammatical inflection and develop the ability to fluently read and write Latin sentences in the present tense using all noun cases and verb personal endings; vocabulary is drawn from the 1st and 2nd declensions and all 4 conjugations. Readings and course units focus on ancient geography, Roman culture and family structure, ancient mythology and the Trojan War. Students additionally complete one research project related to the Classical world each semester.
Latin I students will:
- Speak simple Latin sentences with appropriate pronunciation
- Comprehend the inflection patterns of Latin nouns, verbs, and adjectives
- Understand the fundamental social structures of Roman society
- Identify connections between the ancient Greco-Roman and modern worlds
- Fluently read extended Latin stories containing varied sentence structures
- Relate English derivative words to their Latin roots
Mandarin I is an entry-level course. It is designed for students with little or no background in Chinese with a focus on speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. Throughout the year, we will focus on the basic phonetic system, basic grammar, the writing system, and everyday conversational vocabulary and sentence patterns. Our in-class meetings will concentrate on the training of oral and aural skills. Students will maintain face-to-face short conversations with each other on topics such as greetings, family, school life, hobbies, shopping and transportation. In addition, students will also study Chinese culture as part of this course, aiming to make students cognizant of the socio-linguistic and sociological differences between American and Chinese cultures; this sense of awareness is critical for success in cross-cultural communication.
Mandarin I students will:
- Use the Pinyin system with its initials, finals, and compound finals.
- Differentiate amongst the four tones and pronounce them correctly.
- Learn the structures and meanings of some basic radicals.
- Read short paragraphs smoothly.
- Ask and answer basic questions.
- Read, write, and type elementary Mandarin characters and Pinyin.
- Construct sentences using a limited vocabulary.
- Express their thoughts, feelings, ideas, and opinions in sentences.
- Make inferences and connections.
- Recognize different Chinese social contexts and use Mandarin appropriately, through various role-playing exercises and tasks.
The Spanish program aims to provide students with the communication skills needed to connect with people of Spanish-speaking cultures. The focus is to develop functional oral and written communication skills. Spanish instruction is done in a way that is meaningful to students and connects to real-life experiences. Lessons are designed so that they incorporate a basic understanding of the culture. Vocabulary is taught in context, through short stories. Amongst the resources for the class is the ¡Así se dice! Level 1 textbook. This textbook provides an in-depth study of culture through its GeoVistas section, which explores various Spanish-speaking countries. This book series contains video clips on for each chapter to teach culture, vocabulary, and grammar in context. Students increase their oral proficiency through the use of these authentic videos. Students read short stories that accompany each topic, and they are introduced to extended readings through short novels such as Pobre Ana and Patricia va a California. They demonstrate their understanding of main ideas and supporting details by responding orally and in written form. At this level, students rely on English for unknown words and take advantage of cognates and word parts to determine new meanings. Their communication is predominantly in the present tense.
By the end Spanish I, students will:
- Give appropriate greetings and make introductions.
- Demonstrate an awareness of formal and informal forms of the language.
- Use cognates and contextual clues to decipher meaning.
- Form basic questions and describe themselves and others.
- Form short sentences and hold short conversations about familiar topics.
- Use knowledge acquired in other subject areas to compare and contrast with similar disciplines in Spanish-speaking cultures.