Modern Language

The goal of the modern language department 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 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. 

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 exchange programs in China, France, and Spain may live with host families, attend school, visit museums and other places of interest, and 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.

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 Modern Language Courses

Chinese

Chinese 1

Grades: 9-12

Chinese I is 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 Chinese traditions, history, geography, and popular culture.  Class activities include presentations, songs, movies, and role-plays.

Chinese 2

Grades: 10-12

This course is a continuation of Chinese 1. 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 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: 11-12

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 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 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 or French 2 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, communication, vocabulary acquisition, and grammar. An emphasis is placed on cultural competency and oral proficiency, with performance 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. In the accelerated section, students are expected to communicate with greater accuracy and to develop their ideas more fully.

French 3 or French 3 Accelerated

Grade: 10 Required

Prerequisite:  French 2.

This class follows the same integrated approach used in French 2. Through the use of authentic documents, 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.

Prerequisite: French 2

Intensive French (Accelerated)

Grade: 11

This language and culture course takes a holistic approach to language proficiency and recognizes the relationships between cultural awareness, communication, vocabulary acquisition, and language control. The 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, news articles, articles and videos, films, research, topics related to tolerance, global challenges, science and technology, contemporary life, identity, beauty and aesthetics, families, and communities. 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

This course is for students who do not have a background for Spanish 2 and is offered when numbers allow. 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 encouraged to speak mainly Spanish in the classroom. Note: this course is not offered every year.

Spanish 2 or Spanish 2 Accelerated

Grade: 9 Required

In this course, students build on their Middle School or Spanish I 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, which include 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 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

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 (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

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. This study begins with a focus on the German occupation of France. 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 Le Havre. Grammar and vocabulary will be studied within the context of the films. The course is conducted in French.

Prerequisite: French 3 or French 3 Accelerated.

Advanced Topics: 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 DC. 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 will be conducted entirely in Spanish. 

Prerequisite:  Spanish 3

España Traicionada (Accelerated)

Grades 11-12

This course will look at the historical, political, and social movements in Spain at the beginning of the 20thcentury, including the Second Republic and the Spanish Civil War. Texts will include 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.

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

Advanced Topics: Latinos en los Estados Unidos (Accelerated)

Grade 12

Latinos en los Estados Unidosis 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 class has been designed for advanced students, and it will be conducted entirely in Spanish. 

Prerequisite: Intensive Spanish and departmental approval.

Spring Semester Modern Language Courses

Chinese

Chinese Film

Grades: 11-12

In this class, 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.

French

Les croisées francophones/Francophone Crossings

Grades 11-12                                                                                                                                      

This theme-based cultural course centers around issues that arise when diverse populations interact. Students will read articles, interviews, and poems, listen to music, and watch and discuss 21stcentury films that tackle this subject. Films include Monsieur Lazhar, Inch’Allah dimanche, Samba, and Le grand voyage. Through these readings, songs, and films, students will learn about current challenges that affect Quebec’s and France’s immigrant and minority populations.   They will expand their knowledge of vocabulary and grammar within the context of the films, and 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: introduction to french cinema

Grade 12

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 19thcentury 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.

Prerequisite: Intensive French

Spanish

Movimentos Sociales de Latino America

Grades 11-12                 

This course will concentrate on developing students' oral proficiency and awareness of Hispanic culture by examining classic Spanish-language films.  It will be organized by topics relevant to the Hispanic world, including politics, economic issues, religion, immigration, etc. Vocabulary building and grammar review will continue to be important components of this course, which has been designed for intermediate Spanish students.

Prerequisite: Spanish 3

Cine y Literatura(Accelerated)

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 they 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, we will use a theme-related approach to look at important topics in society: power, violence, moral limits, and family.

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

Advanced Topics in Spanish: La Gran Colombia del pasado al presente (Accelerated)

Grades 11-12

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 mainly focus 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.

Prerequisite: Intensive Spanish