Modern Language

The goal of the Modern Language Department is to prepare students to be linguistically and culturally equipped to communicate successfully with Chinese, French, or Spanish native speakers. The department expects that students completing the program will be able to speak, write, read, and understand the language at a level which allows them to meet practical and social needs in a Chinese, French, or Spanish environment. 

Students can begin the study of Chinese or Spanish in the ninth grade, or add it as a second modern language in the tenth, eleventh, or twelfth grades, space permitting. Students wishing to add a second language in the tenth grade must meet with the department chair in advance. 

Opportunities to pursue language study in China and in French and Spanish-speaking countries are available to students throughout their Upper School careers. Students participating in the Chinese, French, and Spanish exchanges may live with families, attend school, visit museums and other places of interest, and act as hosts when their exchange partners visit Park. Other language immersion and interdisciplinary programs are available for language students as well. Participation is dependent on approval of the faculty. 

Requirements

Successful completion of Chinese 3, French 3, or Spanish 3 is required for graduation.

Ninth and tenth grade French and Spanish students are divided according to their performance in the preceding year’s class. Students in accelerated sections work at an advanced level in all skills, focusing on integrating vocabulary and sentence structures.

PROGRAM

  • Chinese 1, 2, 3, Junior and Senior Elective
  • French 2, 3,  Intensive French, Junior and Senior Elective, Advanced Topics in French
  • Spanish 1, 2, 3, Intensive Spanish, Junior and Senior Elective, Advanced Topics in Spanish

Two programs are available in grades 11 and 12. Students may choose electives or, with departmental approval, enroll in an intensive course in French or Spanish that prepares them for the AP exam. Both the electives and the intensive language courses emphasize communication proficiency and provide grammar review, as well as opportunities to use the language in a variety of contexts. 

bilingual and international students

Bilingual students entering the Upper School are required to enroll in a language other than the ones they already speak at home. A bilingual English-Spanish student is, therefore, required to enroll in Chinese I or, with previous study, French II. Similarly, a bilingual English-French student is required to enroll in Chinese or Spanish. A bilingual English-Chinese student is required to enroll in Spanish I or French II.

International students for whom English is their second language are not required to enroll in a modern language during their first year in the Upper School. We understand that for these students immersing themselves in an American school fulfills the objectives of a modern language class. Beginning in their second year, however, these students are required to begin the study of Chinese, Spanish, or, with previous study, French. These students are typically required to continue their study of Chinese, Spanish, or French through their senior year.

International students who are here for only one year are encouraged to enroll in a modern language class keeping in mind the requirements they must meet for their home school.

Full Year Courses

Chinese

Chinese 1

Grades: 9-12

In Chinese 1, the introductory course of Chinese language and culture, students become proficient at Pinyin (the phonetic system), learn to communicate on simple, everyday topics, and also recognize approximately 400 characters by the end of the year. Although writing is not a major emphasis, students are expected to be able to write 100 characters after the first year. Students learn about and experience Chinese traditions, history, geography, and popular culture. Class activities include presentations, songs, movies, and role plays.

Chinese 2

Grades: 10-12

Prerequisite:  Chinese 1.

This course is a continuation of Chinese I. Students focus on various aspects of Chinese culture, and as they practice hearing and producing the four tones and expand their vocabulary, they learn to communicate on more topics, including hobbies, school life, and trips. In reading, they learn 400 new characters, giving them a total of 800 characters by the end of the year. Students also are able to copy accurately, with the proper stroke, and sequence characters that are new to them. By the end of the year they are able to write 200 characters without a model.

Chinese 3

Grades: 11-12

Prerequisite:  Chinese 2.

Chinese 3 is a continuation of Chinese 2. It is taught mainly in Chinese. English is only used to explain grammar and introduce aspects of culture. Students are expected to be proficient and accurate in the four tones and Pinyin. They continue to expand their vocabulary and learn another 400 characters during the year. By the end of this program, they are expected to be able to communicate with native speakers on many topics, especially those related to everyday life. Some of the goals for students in this class are: to expand their listening comprehension, to be more comfortable understanding rapid speech, and to have a deeper understanding of China and its people.

French

French 2 - Regular or accelerated

Grade: 9 Required

In this language and culture course, students build on their Middle School foundation. The course takes a thematic approach to language learning and recognizes the relationships between cultural awareness, comprehension, communication, vocabulary acquisition, and grammar. An emphasis is placed on cultural competency and oral proficiency, with assessments of students’ speaking skills incorporated into the program. Class content is based on the topics of everyday life. Activities include listening to songs, engaging in conversations, writing short compositions, and reading personal narratives. Students are expected to use French in the classroom. In the accelerated section, students are expected to communicate with greater accuracy and develop their ideas more fully.

French 3 - Regular or accelerated

Grade: 10 Required

Prerequisite:  French 2.

This class follows the same integrated approach used in French 2. Through authentic texts and films, students build upon their knowledge of French language and French-speaking cultures around the world while learning and reviewing vocabulary and grammar. With support, they are expected to read and write more independently and to make connections based on previous knowledge. Cultural competency and oral proficiency are still emphasized. In the accelerated section, students are expected to communicate with greater accuracy and to develop their ideas more fully.

intensive FRENCH

Grades: 11-12

Prerequisite:  French 3 Accelerated or Accelerated Elective.

This language and culture course takes a holistic approach to language proficiency and recognizes the relationships between comprehension, vocabulary acquisition, language control, and cultural awareness. An exploration of culture is as important as the acquisition of grammar and vocabulary. Grammatical studies are addressed because they have a communicative task, but are not pursued as primary goals. The approach is a thematic one in which students consider, through literary texts, newspaper articles, podcasts, etc., topics related to global challenges, science and technology, beauty and aesthetics, families and communities, contemporary life, and personal and public identities. The course prepares students for the Advanced Placement Language and Culture examination in the spring.

Spanish

Spanish 1

Grade: 9-12

This course is for students who do not have a background for Spanish 2. The class focuses on the acquisition of the basic elements of the language: vocabulary and grammar with an emphasis on oral proficiency. Culture is integrated into all aspects of the program and students are expected to speak mainly Spanish in the classroom. Students new to the school may be placed in this course based on the results of a placement assessment.

Spanish 2

Grade: 9 Required

Students continue to focus on the acquisition of the basic elements of the language: vocabulary and grammar. Oral proficiency, understanding and appreciation of Hispanic cultures, and expansion of vocabulary are emphasized in both the regular and accelerated sections of the course. Class content is based on the essential topics of everyday life. Activities include grammar study, short compositions, and readings, which include poems and texts taken from the press and the internet. Students are expected to use Spanish in the classroom.

Spanish 3

Grade: 10 Required

Prerequisite:  Spanish 2.

In Spanish 3, the curriculum shifts toward a thematic and integrated approach. Students are expected, with support, to read and write more independently, and to make connections based on previous knowledge, and to see the language as an integrated whole. Through the use of texts and films, students learn new vocabulary and grammar, and apply and expand their knowledge. In the accelerated section, students are expected to communicate with greater accuracy and develop their ideas more fully.

Intensive Spanish Language and culture (Acc)

Grades: 11

Prerequisite:  Permission of the department.

The focus of this course is the acquisition of a high degree of communicative and cultural competency in Spanish. The approach is a thematic one in which students consider, through the vehicle of films, literary texts, newspaper articles, podcasts, etc., topics related to global challenges, science and technology, beauty and aesthetics, families and communities, contemporary life, and personal and public identities. In addition to reading, discussion, and extensive writing, students engage in a thorough and independent review of Spanish grammar. This course prepares students for the Advanced Placement Spanish Language and Culture examination in the spring.

Fall Semester Courses

Chinese

ancient chinese history

Grade: 11-12 

Prerequisite:  Chinese 3 or equivalent.

In this course, students focus on ancient Chinese history, which to some degree has shaped who the Chinese people are today. Topics include most famous dynasties such as Han and Tang, influential thinkers including Confucius, a taste of ancient poetry, and some interesting events that took place over thousands of years. An emphasis is placed on discussion, research, and independent work. Through this content-based course, students gain a deeper understanding of China and its people while they continue to improve their language skills.

French

Lire, écrire, s’exprimer

Grades: 11-12 

This theme-based cultural course is structured around the themes of childhood and adolescence as they are portrayed in films from the French-speaking world. Students will watch and analyze films whose stories take place between 1944 to 2004, including La rafle, Au revoir les enfants, Les 400 coups, M. Ibrahim, and Entre les murs. Grammar and vocabulary will be studied within the context of the films. The course is conducted in French.

Advanced Topics: Francophone and the francophone world

Grade 12

Prerequisite: Intensive French

This course will examine the concept and the institution of F/francophonie and will explore the culture of the Francophone world with a special emphasis on Francophone Africa and the Caribbean. Students will look at how the colonization and decolonization of these regions occurred and how they exist now in a post-colonial world. This course will include movie viewings, a short novel from Guadeloupe, and a trip to the African Art Museum in Washington D.C. Students will improve their speaking and collaborative skills through hands-on and oral communication activities.

Spanish

La Historia a través del cine

Grades: 11-12

Prerequisite:  Spanish 3

This course will concentrate on developing students’ oral proficiency and awareness of the Hispanic culture through examining classic Spanish-language films. The class will be organized by topics relevant to the Hispanic world such as politics, economy, religion, immigration, etc. Vocabulary building and grammar review will continue to be important components of this course. This class has been designed for intermediate Spanish students.

puerto rico

Grades: 11-12

Prerequisite: Spanish 3 Accelerated or regular elective

This course, designed for advanced students, will present an overview of the historical, social, cultural, and political evolution of Puerto Rico. A special emphasis will be put on the contributions of the Taíno, African, and European cultures to the development of Puerto Rican identity. The course will also look at Puerto Rico’s complex relationship with the United States as well as its status as a U.S. territory. The class will read articles, poems, legends, short stories, and personal accounts in addition to watching movies about the region. Grammar, vocabulary, and oral proficiency will continue to be important aspects of the class.

¡A que sí!

Grades: 11-12

Prerequisite: Spanish 3 Accelerated or regular elective

This class, designed for advanced students, will focus on increasing students’ awareness of Hispanic culture by exploring contemporary cultural issues. The materials have been chosen from a wide variety of sources: literature, newspapers, magazines, brochures, songs, and films. Both Spain and Latin American countries will be represented. The acquisition of new vocabulary and grammar review will continue to be important components of this class. This class has been designed for advanced students and it will be conducted entirely in Spanish.

Advanced Topics: Latinos en los Estados Unidos – Accelerated

Grades: 12

Prerequisite: Intensive Spanish 

Latinos en los Estados Unidos is a class designed to increase students’ awareness of the lives of Latino immigrants living in the United States. Students in the class will discuss many topics, including: the socioeconomic and political realities of Latin American countries; the ways people enter the country, both legally and illegally; as well as their dreams and hopes before coming and the realities they encounter upon their arrival. This class will explore topics of immigration by using a wide variety of sources: historical documents, literature, newspapers, magazines, brochures, songs, and films. This course has been designed for advanced students, and it will be conducted entirely in Spanish. Departmental approval is required.

 

Spring Semester Courses

Chinese

chinese culture

Grades: 11-12

Prerequisite:  Chinese 3 or the equivalent.                                         

In the spring semester, students continue to learn Chinese language through the study of Chinese culture covering topics ranging from Chinese medicine to music, education, and other topics of contemporary society. An emphasis is placed on discussion, research, hands-on projects, and independent work. Through this content-based course, students gain a deeper understanding of China and its people while they continue to improve their language skills.

French

A Table! The Culture of Food in Francophone Countries

Grades: 11-12

Prerequisite:  French 3 or French 3 Accelerated                                        

This theme-based cultural course is structured around food in the French-speaking world. The course will begin with a historical perspective, followed by contemporary topics such as regional cuisine, cultural festivals, problems in the food industry, and the language of menus. Students will revisit and recycle culinary vocabulary and expressions, and the course will include readings — prose and poetry, dégustations (tastings), recipes to try at home, and theme-appropriate films and works of art. Certain grammar review will be presented in supplementary form, but it will not be the focus.

Advanced Topics in French: introduction to french cinema

Grade 12

Prerequisite: Intensive French

This course is designed as an introduction to French cinema and culture. It will offer students a brief survey of the history of French film, from its beginnings in the late 19th century until the present day, but it will also provide the necessary cultural context needed to appreciate these films. Students will discuss ongoing social issues within France and use many of the films they watch to think through these issues in new ways. In addition to providing important historical and cultural context for viewing these films, this course will also introduce students to the techniques of formal analysis. Students will also study the French film industry and consider how movies work as a business.

Spanish

Grandes directores de España – Accelerated

Grade: 11-12  

Prerequisite: Spanish 3 Accelerated or previous elective

This course will concentrate on developing the students’ oral proficiency and awareness of Spanish culture by taking a detailed look at Spanish cinema. To carry out these goals, students will take a comprehensive look at various female directors from the 1980s to the present who have had an impact nationally and internationally on the growth of the Spanish film industry. Some of these directors are: Icíar Bollaín, Pilar Miró, Isabel Coixet, and Chus Gutierrez. In addition to the study of Spanish cinema, students will examine the social and political context in which each director worked and how these influenced her filmmaking.

CUENTOS Y MICROCUENTOS

Grades: 11-12

Prerequisite: Spanish 3

This course is designed for intermediate Spanish students who wish to develop their reading proficiency. Students will begin reading microcuentos, and then they will progress to short stories written by Spanish-speaking authors. Hispanic culture will be studied through the context of the readings. Grammar review and vocabulary building will continue to be important components of this class.

Advanced Topics : La Gran Colombia del pasado al presente – Accelerated

Grades: 12

Prerequisite: Intensive Spanish or permission of the department

This class will explore the evolution of la Gran Colombia, which once was the union of Colombia, Venezuela, and Panama, from the colonial era to the present. It will explore the changes these countries have undergone historically, politically, and culturally. The class will focus mainly on historical events and important people who have shaped the lives of the citizens in these countries, but will also delve into the culture, including gastronomy, dance, music, and literature. Activities will include research, discussions, debates, writing, projects, movies, and documentaries.