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 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. 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

modern chinese history

Grade: 11-12 

Prerequisite:  Chinese 3 or equivalent.

In this course, students will focus on modern Chinese history. Topics will include the late phase of Qing Dynasty, the “Century of Humiliation,” the Civil War, in addition to the rise of China in recent decades, etc. Emphasis will be placed on discussion, research, and independent work. Through this content-based course, students will gain a deeper understanding of China and its people while they continue to improve their language skills.

French

L’enfance et l’adolescence à travers le cinéma

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 Culture through Stories and Film - Accelerated

Grade 12

Prerequisite: Intensive French

Most of the French curriculum can focus on French culture and overlook the rich francophone world beyond France. This course is designed to familiarize students with the many aspects of francophone culture through the eye of the camera as well as through literature. Although students will not put much emphasis on history, they will watch and analyze movies and read essays about three major periods: the colonization of Africa and the Antilles, the independence era, and modern Africa and its relationship with France. Topics discussed in class will include language complexities, tradition vs. modernism, immigration and integration, family dynamics, and more.

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.

El cine hispano – Accelerated

Grades: 11-12

Prerequisite: Spanish 3 Accelerated or previous elective

In this class, students will watch, analyze, and discuss Hispanic films that focus on various events and themes. The class will be organized by topics, including politics, social marginalization, economic issues, religion, immigration, etc. The movies will help the students gain a better understanding and appreciation of the complexities of other cultures — in this case Latin America and Spain. In addition to watching the films, class activities will include research, reading, discussion, debates, writing, and role-playing. Students will improve their interpretive communication skills, as well as increase their knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. This class has been designed for advanced students, and it will be conducted entirely in Spanish.

España Traicionada – Accelerated

Grades: 11-12

Prerequisite: Spanish 3 Accelerated or previous elective

This course will examine the historical, political, and social movements in Spain at the beginning of the 20th century, including the Second Republic and the Spanish Civil War. Students will read texts, short stories, and personal accounts describing the events that led to the war and Franco’s subsequent dictatorship. In addition to the readings, the class will watch numerous videos and movies in class and at home.

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. Topics covered will include 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 class has been designed for advanced students and will be conducted entirely in Spanish. Departmental approval is required.

 

Spring Semester Courses

Chinese

chinese films

Grades: 11-12

Prerequisite:  Chinese 3 or the equivalent.                                         

In the spring semester, students will learn about Chinese society through the study of Chinese films that cover topics ranging from ancient and modern history to the educational system to growing up in China, etc. Emphasis will be placed on discussion, research, and independent work (e.g., film reviews). Through this content-based course, students will gain a deeper understanding of China and its people while continuing to improve their language skills.

French

Les Croisées Francophones/Francophone Crossings

Grade: 12

Prerequisite:  French 3 or French 3 Accelerated                                        

This course is a continuation of the fall semester course where students focused on topics presented in various African films. In addition to watching movies, students study aspects of African storytelling, examine legends and short stories, and look at cinematic adaptations. The African oral tradition is present in the literature and visual art that comes out of the continent, and the goal is to look at different perspectives of the same stories.

Advanced Topics in French: Francophone Culture through Literature and Film II – Accelerated

Grade 12

Prerequisite: Intensive French

This course will be a continuation of the fall semester course in which students were focused on topics presented in various films and essays from the French-speaking world. In addition to a few movies, students will study aspects of African/Caribbean storytelling, examine some legends and short stories, and look at some cinematic adaptations. The African oral tradition is interestingly built into the literature and visual art that comes out of the continent, and the class goal is to look at different perspectives of the same stories.

Spanish

Cine y Literatura – Accelerated

Grade: 11-12  

Prerequisite: Spanish 3 Accelerated or previous elective

This course will concentrate on developing students’ oral proficiency through the study of Spanish-language films and literature. Students are encouraged to think critically about the topics covered and how they pertain to the Spanish-speaking world and their own world. In addition to vocabulary building and grammar review, students will analyze literary and film techniques. In this course, students will use a theme-related approach to examine important topics in our society: power, violence, moral limits, and family.

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.

Espana Traicionada – Accelerated

Grades: 11-12

This course will cover the historical, political, and social movements in Spain at the beginning of the 20th century. Students will examine the development of the Second Republic and the Spanish Civil War. The class will read texts, short stories and personal accounts describing the events that led to the war and Franco’s subsequent dictatorship. In addition to these readings, the class will watch numerous videos and movies in class and at home.

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.