Modern Language

The goal of the modern language department is to prepare students 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 language in the tenth, eleventh, or twelfth grades, space permitting. Students wishing to begin the study of French must do summer work in order to enroll in French 2. Students with previous language study will be placed in the appropriate course where the department feels they will be most successful based on an evaluation given in the spring. Students wishing to add a second language in the tenth grade must meet with the department chair in advance.

Students typically have the opportunity every other year to participate in exchange programs in China, France, and Spain. While abroad, they live with host families, attend classes at our sister schools, visit museums and other places of interest. Back in Baltimore, they typically act as hosts when their exchange partners visit Park. Participation is dependent on approval of the faculty.

REQUIREMENTS AND PLACEMENT

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

French 2 and 3 and Spanish 2 and 3 are all divided by level of challenge, and students are placed in sections according to their performance in the preceding year's class, or on placement assessments.  Students in accelerated sections work at an advanced level in all skills.

PROGRAM

  • Chinese 1, 2, 3, Junior and Senior Elective
  • French 2, 3,  Intensive French, Junior and Senior Elective, Advanced Topics in French
  • Spanish 1 (when possible), 2, 3, Intensive Spanish, Junior and Senior Electives, 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 Advanced Placement (AP) exam. Both the electives and the intensive language courses emphasize cultural themes, communication proficiency, and 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 1 or, with previous study, French 2. 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 1 or French 2.

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.

Full-Year Modern Language Courses

Chinese

Chinese 1
Grades: 9-12

Chinese 1 is the introductory course of Chinese language and culture. Students are expected to become proficient at Pinyin (the phonetic system), learn to communicate with people on simple, everyday topics, and 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 around 100 characters after the first year. Students learn about Chinese traditions, history, geography, and popular culture. Class activities include presentations, songs, movies, and role-playing. 

Chinese 2
Grades: 9-12

This course is a continuation of Chinese 1. We continue to focus on various aspects of Chinese culture, and as students practice hearing and producing the four tones and expand their vocabulary, they learn to talk about additional 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 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. 

Prerequisite: Chinese 1.

Chinese 3
Grades: 10-12

Chinese 3 is a continuation of Chinese 2. It is taught mainly in Chinese, while 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 the year, they are expected to be able to communicate with native speakers on many topics, especially those related to everyday life. Included in the goals for the year is expanded listening comprehension with an emphasis on understanding more rapid speech. Some of the goals for students in the 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. 

Prerequisite: Chinese 2.

French
French 2
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, communication, vocabulary acquisition, and grammar. An emphasis is placed on cultural competency and oral proficiency, with assessments 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. 

French 3 or French 3 Accelerated
Grade: 10 • Required

This class follows the same integrated approach used in French 2. Students build upon their knowledge of French language and their understanding of French-speaking cultures around the world. They are expected, with support, to read and write more independently and to make connections based on previous knowledge. Class content is based on cultural themes (e.g., secularism, folklore, music, the environment) and may vary depending on the year. 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. 

Prerequisite: French 2.

Intensive French Language and Culture (Accelerated)
Grade: 11
This language and culture course takes a holistic approach to language proficiency and recognizes the relationships between cultural awareness, communication skills, vocabulary acquisition, and control of grammar. The approach is a thematic one in which students consider topics related to tolerance, global challenges, science and technology, contemporary life, identity, beauty and aesthetics, families and communities through literary texts, news articles, videos, films, research, etc. The exploration of culture is as important as the acquisition of grammar and vocabulary. Grammatical structures are addressed because they serve a communicative task, but are not treated as primary goals. The course prepares students for the Advanced Placement (AP) Language and Culture examination in the spring. 

Prerequisite: French 3 Accelerated and permission of the department.

Spanish

Spanish 1
Grade: 9-12
In this course, students focus 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 encouraged to speak Spanish in the classroom.

Spanish 2 and Spanish 2 (Accelerated) 
Grade: 9 • Required
In this course students build on their Middle School or Spanish 1 foundations and 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, including poems and texts taken from the press and the internet. Students are expected to use Spanish in the classroom. 

Spanish 3 or Spanish 3 (Accelerated)
Grade: 10 • Required

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

Prerequisite: Spanish 2

Intensive Spanish Language and Culture (Accelerated)
Grades: 11
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 (AP) Spanish Language and Culture examination in the spring.

Prerequisite: Spanish 3 Accelerated and permission from the department.

Fall Semester Modern Language Courses

Chinese

Modern Chinese History
Grades: 11-12
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. 

Prerequisite: Chinese 3 or the equivalent. This class is offered in alternate years and will be offered this year.

Ancient Chinese History
Grades: 11-12
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.

Prerequisite: Chinese 3 or the equivalent. This class is offered in alternate years and will not be offered this year.

French
L’enfance et l’adolescence à travers le cinéma
Grades: 11-12

This theme-based cultural course is structured around the theme of childhood and adolescence as they are portrayed in films from the French-speaking world. The course begins with a focus on the German occupation of France and ends with a focus on contemporary life. Students will watch and analyze films including La rafle, Les 400 coups, Le Havre, et Qu'Allah bénisse la France. This list is not exhaustive and may be revised. Grammar and vocabulary will be studied within the context of the films, but the focus of the class is discussing and writing about the films. The course is conducted in French. 

Prerequisite: French 3 or French 3 Accelerated.

Advanced Topics in French 1 (Accelerated): Francophonie and the Francophone World
Grade: 12

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 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. 

Prerequisite: Intensive French.

Spanish
¡A que sí!
Grades: 11-12

This class 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 students who have previously taken Spanish III or another elective and will be conducted entirely in Spanish. 

Prerequisite: Spanish 3.

Decolonizing food, delicious ways to eat!
Grades: 11-12

This class centers on the historical and cultural background of the foods from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Spain. Students will learn about the origins of foods from those regions, the cultural influences and different traditions, as well as why food is so important in Hispanic culture. They will discover this information through the examination of historical, literary, digital, and visual materials and will ideally have the chance to develop their culinary expertise! 

Prerequisite: Spanish 3.

El cine hispano (Accelerated)
Grades: 11-12

In this class, students will watch, analyze, and discuss Hispanic films that focus on various social events and themes. The class will be organized by topics, including politics, social marginalization, economic issues, social injustice, disabilities, etc. The movies will help the students get 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, discussions, 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. 

Prerequisite: Spanish 3 Accelerated or Regular Elective and permission from the department.

Advanced Topics in Spanish 1 (Accelerated): Voces silenciadas
Grade: 12

This class centers on the concepts of vulnerability and empowerment in Latin American cultural production, particularly literature, film, and art. Students will explore the diversity of both vulnerable and empowering experiences among marginalized and unheard sectors of Latin American societies with a focus on women, indigenous people, Afro-Latinxs, and the LGBTQ community. Prerequisite: Intensive Spanish and approval of the department.

Spring Semester Modern Language Courses

Chinese

Chinese Film
Grades: 11-12

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. 

Prerequisite: Chinese 3 or the equivalent. This class is offered in alternate years and will be offered this year.

Chinese Culture
Grades: 11-12
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.

Prerequisite: Chinese 3 or the equivalent. This class is offered in alternate years and will be offered next year.

French
Les croisées francophones
Grades: 11-12

This theme-based cultural course centers around issues that arise when diverse populations interact. We will read articles, interviews, and poems, listen to music, and watch and discuss 21st century films that tackle this subject. Films include Monsieur Lazhar, Inch’Allah dimanche, Le grand voyage, and Samba. Through these readings, songs, and films, students will learn about current challenges that affect Quebec’s and France’s immigrant and minority populations. The class will expand their knowledge of vocabulary and grammar within the context of the films. Simultaneously, they will work to improve their oral and written expression through discussion and written reflections. The class is conducted in French. 

Prerequisite: French 3 or French 3 Accelerated.

Advanced Topics in French 2 (Accelerated): 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 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
El cine hispano
Grades: 11-12

In this class, students will watch, analyze, and discuss Hispanic films that focus on various social events and themes. The class will be organized by topics including politics, social marginalization, economic issues, social injustice, disabilities, etc. The movies will help the students get 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, discussions, debates, writing, and role-playing. Students will improve their interpretive communication skills, as well as increase their knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. This class will be conducted entirely in Spanish. 

Prerequisite: Spanish 3.

Notas musicales
Grades: 11-12

This class will explore the diversity of the music scene in the Spanish-speaking world. Students will be able to learn how music works within specific historical, social, and cultural contexts. They will be encouraged to explore the different music genres and how those help to express, shape, and record the human experience. 

Prerequisite: Spanish 3 Accelerated or Regular Elective and permission from the department.

Decolonizing food, delicious ways to eat! (Accelerated)
Grades: 11-12

This class centers on the historical and cultural background of the foods from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Spain. Students will learn about the origins of foods from those regions, the cultural influences and different traditions, as well as why food is so important in Hispanic culture. They will discover this information through the examination of historical, literary, digital, and visual materials and will ideally have the chance to develop their culinary expertise! 

Prerequisite: Spanish 3 Accelerated or Regular Elective and permission from the department.

Advanced Topics in Spanish 2 (Accelerated): Cine y literatura
Grades: 11-12

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 we study and how they pertain to the Spanish-speaking world and their own. In addition to vocabulary building and grammar review, students will do analysis of literary and film techniques. In this course, the class will use a theme-related approach to look at important topics in our society: power, violence, moral limits, and family. 

Prerequisite: Intensive Spanish.