Competence in more than one language and culture makes it possible for students to communicate with people from other countries or cultures, achieve a better understanding of their own language and culture, and participate more fully in the global community. The chief goal of the Park School Modern Language Program is for students to learn how, when, and why to say what to whom in another language. Enjoyment of language and culture and confidence in one’s speaking ability are the main emphases of the Middle School program.
The department expects that students completing the program will be able to speak, read, write, and understand the language at a level that would permit them to meet practical and social needs in a French or Spanish environment. While oral proficiency constitutes the ultimate goal of our program, writing and reading also form an integral part of the curriculum.
The modern language program begins in the Lower School, where students study Spanish. At the start of Middle School, they can choose to continue with Spanish or change to French. New students entering sixth grade with no previous Spanish experience are expected to take French. Courses in both languages are offered through the twelfth grade, with the expectation that students will be able to speak with fluency by the time they graduate.
The program is based on a spiral approach that reinforces students’ language bases as they revisit and build upon what they know. The sixth grade French course is comprised of units designed to allow students to use basic vocabulary and phrases in real-life situations. Sixth grade Spanish students will improve upon the skills that they learned in the Lower School. Focus will be on vocabulary, more formal grammatical structures, and phrases from real-life situations. Discussions involve cultural themes such as school life, friends and family life, immigration, and international travel.
Seventh and eighth grade French and Spanish courses introduce more complex grammar and more extensive vocabulary. Speaking ability is still the primary focus of study.