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Middle School World Languages Curriculum

The World Languages Department at Durham Academy believes that learning other languages, both modern and classical, is vital to providing students with an education that will enable them to live a moral, happy and productive life.

  • We build the skills for lifelong learning by fostering curiosity and intellectual risk-taking. 

  • We encourage students to travel abroad.

  • We believe that studying other languages and cultures leads to deeper understanding, respect, and empathy for people across the globe.

  • We study the world's languages to become more self-aware, to embrace our responsibilities as engaged global citizens, and to create positive change.

Every Durham Academy student can and should learn another language.

Our program is built on developing and integrating the skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking. A foundation of spoken language proficiency lies at the heart of our instruction. As students refine their language, they hone their interpersonal communication skills. Rich, varied, and differentiated activities with authentic content allow us to meet the individual needs of each student. As we foster joyful language learning, we create opportunities for students to think critically, creatively, and collaboratively.
 

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STUDENTS WILL BE ABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY USE THEIR LEARNING TO:

  • Interact and behave appropriately according to contexts and cultural norms.
  • Decipher, identify and interpret tone and style including formal and informal language in spoken or written texts.

  • Create, present and convey information for a specific audience.

  • Demonstrate cultural proficiency, including cultural self-awareness, to achieve empathy towards others and increase the respect for target cultures.

  • Go beyond the linguistic comfort zone when encountering authentic sources.
  • Critically examine their native language(s) through learning the target language.
  • Actively engage in and embrace opportunities to interact with native speakers, both in and outside of class.
  • Develop the ability to compare and contrast target cultures to their own.

  • Recognize another language/culture through the process of learning, express how their own language and social behaviors follow cultural norms.
  • Seeks out and enjoys language learning opportunities and cultural experiences.
  • Communicate, connect, and collaborate with their local and global community.
  • Recognize and pursue professional and intellectual opportunities in the global market.
ACTFL

Durham Academy uses the ACTFL Proficiency guidelines for aligning classes at the Novice, Novice Mid, and Novice High levels. Students who complete Novice High in Grade 8 typically place into an Intermediate Low class at our Upper School. ACTFL guidelines do not apply to Latin.
 

Middle School World Languages Course Offerings

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Chinese Novice

This course is an introduction to Mandarin (guoyu or putonghua). The course begins with simple words and phrases, the pronunciation and cadences of Mandarin, romanization, Chinese characters, and simple vocabulary items, all taught in the context of practical and meaningful communication. Sentence patterns and other fundamentals of speaking, reading and writing will be taught using simplified Chinese characters. Chinese Novice will help students develop an interest and understanding of Mandarin Chinese with a focus on the four linguistic modalities: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Chinese Novice is a communicative novice-level course according to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages World Readiness Standards.

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Chinese Novice Mid

Chinese Novice Mid is a continuation of Chinese Novice. This course continues the introduction to Mandarin (guoyu or putonghua), simple words and phrases, the pronunciation and cadences of Mandarin, romanization, Chinese characters, and simple vocabulary items, all taught in the context of practical and meaningful communication. Sentence patterns and other fundamentals of speaking, reading and writing will be taught using simplified Chinese characters. Chinese Novice Mid continues the understanding of Mandarin Chinese with a focus on the four linguistic modalities: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Chinese Novice Mid is a communicative novice mid course according to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages World Readiness Standards.

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Chinese Novice High A

Chinese Novice High A is a continuation of Chinese Novice Mid and is a communicative novice-high level course according to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages World Readiness Standards. Students may anticipate learning a significant amount of new vocabulary, sentence patterns and idiomatic expressions using simplified Chinese characters. Skits, oral presentations, writing assignments and cultural activities are also part of this course. The course also integrates the four linguistic modalities: listening, reading, speaking and writing. The goal is to allow students to develop communicative strategies that will allow them to interact with linguistic material and speakers in the target language. 

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Chinese Novice High B

Chinese Novice High B is a novice high level course as defined by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages World Readiness Standards. It is for students who have completed Chinese Novice High A or who place into the course by successfully completing a placement assessment. Chinese Novice High B expands the study of Mandarin Chinese and Chinese culture from the previous year to develop a more in-depth understanding of familiar topics as well as introducing new topics such as transportation, daily schedules and hobbies. Students continue to strengthen their linguistic skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing within a given context. Students gain confidence in performing the basic functions of daily living and interacting with native speakers. Discussion of Chinese culture and Chinese relations are interspersed. Twenty-first century learning and Web tools are purposefully integrated with the curriculum to enrich learning activities. 

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French Novice

French Novice is an introduction to the study of French and francophone language and culture. It is designed for students with little or no prior exposure to the French language. The classroom experience is grounded in the four communicative skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The three modes of communication- interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational- provide the organizing principle for the course content. Students will attain a beginning level of proficiency necessary for carrying out basic communicative functions of the language in everyday life, primarily through speaking but also by writing short dialogues, paragraphs, and articles. Listening and reading activities use authentic recordings and texts with a variety of native speakers from diverse Francophone countries. Course topics include Introductions, Identity, School, and Family. Grammar includes basic questions, possessive adjectives, adjective agreement, the present tense (regular -er verbs), and articles. Students also become acquainted with cultural aspects of French-speaking countries around the world.  French is the language of instruction in this course, and all students are expected to communicate in French to the best of their ability. 

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French Novice Mid

French Novice Mid builds upon the skills, vocabulary, and grammar structures presented in the French Novice course. The classroom experience is grounded in the four communicative skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. The three modes of communication- interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational- provide the organizing principle for the course content. Students continue to build their proficiency by developing increasingly complex communication skills, primarily through speaking but also by writing short dialogues, paragraphs, and articles. Listening and reading activities use authentic recordings and texts with a variety of native speakers from diverse Francophone countries. Course topics include Family, Food, Activities, and City Life. Grammar includes articles, negation, the present tense (regular and irregular verbs), near future tense, and question formation. French is the language of instruction in this course, and all students are expected to communicate in French to the best of their ability. 

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French Novice High A

French Novice High A is a novice high level course, as defined by American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages World Readiness Standards. Students will continue developing proficiency in French through a variety of tasks that involve culture, interactions, communication strategies, vocabulary, and language control. The course also integrates the four linguistic modalities: listening, reading, speaking, and writing. The goal is to allow students to develop communicative strategies that will allow them to interact with linguistic material and native speakers in the target language. Verb tenses studied are present, near future and past. Students are exposed to authentic materials from a variety of Francophone countries around the world. EntreCultures 2 is the online text for this class.

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French Novice High B

French Novice High B is a novice high level course, as defined by American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages World Readiness Standards. It is for students who have successfully completed French Novice High A. Students will continue developing proficiency in the target language through a variety of tasks that involve culture, personal interactions, communication strategies, vocabulary, and language control. The course also integrates the four linguistic modalities: listening, reading, speaking, and writing. The goal is to allow students to develop communicative strategies that will allow them to interact with linguistic material and native speakers in the target language. Verbs tenses studied are present, past, imperfect, and near future. Students are exposed to authentic materials from a variety of Francophone countries around the world. EntreCultures 2 is the online text for this course.

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Latin 1A

Latin 1A introduces students to the study of the Latin language, and comprises the first half of an Upper School Latin I course. Students will discuss the roots of the Latin language and its effect on modern languages. Grammar lessons will cover both the mechanics and syntax of noun declensions and verb conjugations, as well as the indirect statement. Latin 1A will learn the first, second, and third noun declensions, and active and passive voice present verbs in all conjugations. Special emphasis is placed on critical thinking and logical reasoning skills. Cultural studies in Latin 1A will focus on the early history of Rome and geography of the Italian peninsula. Throughout the year, Latin 1A students will also encounter texts from ancient authors across several genres.

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Latin 1B

Latin 1B is the continuation of Latin 1A and completes the second half of an Upper School Latin I course. In Latin 1B, students complete all noun declensions, as well as verb tenses in the indicative mood. Latin 1B students will encounter more elegant Latin constructions, such as clauses and participles. Special emphasis continues to be placed on critical thinking and logical reasoning skills. Cultural studies in Latin 1B will focus on the Roman Republic and geography of the city of Rome. Latin 1B students will also encounter the texts of more Roman authors and Latin literary genres.

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Spanish Novice

Spanish Novice is a communicative novice level course, according to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages World Readiness Standards. Students will begin to develop proficiency in the target language through a variety of tasks that involve culture, interactions, communication strategies, vocabulary, and language control. The classroom experience is grounded in the four communicative skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. The three modes of communication — interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational — provide the organizing principle for the course content. Students will attain a beginning level of proficiency necessary for carrying out basic communicative functions of the language in everyday life, primarily through speaking but also by writing and reading short dialogues, paragraphs, and articles. The emphasis is on successful communication and on developing the basic skills to move to the next level. Students also become acquainted with cultural aspects of Spanish-speaking countries around the world.

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Spanish Novice High A

The Novice High level spans two years at Durham Academy Middle School.  The goal of Novice High A Spanish is to progress to the High B level, as specified by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) proficiency guidelines. The classroom experience is grounded in the four communicative skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. The three modes of communication- interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational- provide the organizing principle for the course content. Students develop the skills to identify the topic and isolate facts from texts, to request and provide information by asking and answering questions, to interact with others, and to express, react, and support preferences and opinions using a string of sentences. Students are exposed daily to authentic materials appropriate to their level. The class is taught almost exclusively in the target language and students are expected to use the target language at all times, to the best of their ability.

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Spanish Novice Mid

The goal of Novice Mid Spanish is to continue to progress into the Novice Mid level, as specified by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) proficiency guidelines. The classroom experience is grounded in the four communicative skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. The three modes of communication- interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational- provide the organizing principle for the course content. Students continue to learn how to talk about themselves and their community and to request and provide information by asking and answering practiced and original questions. Students are exposed daily to authentic materials appropriate to their level. The class is taught almost exclusively in the target language and students are expected to use the target language at all times, to the best of their abilities.

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Spanish Novice High B

The Novice High level spans two years at Durham Academy Middle School.  The goal of Novice High B Spanish is to progress from the Novice High A to Novice High B level, as specified by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) proficiency guidelines. The classroom experience is grounded in the four communicative skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. The three modes of communication — interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational — provide the organizing principle for the course content. Students develop the skills to identify the topic and isolate facts from texts, to request and provide information by asking and answering questions, to interact with others, and to express, react, and support preferences and opinions using a string of sentences. Students are exposed daily to authentic materials appropriate to their level. The class is taught almost exclusively in the target language and students are expected to use the target language at all times, to the best of their ability.

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Phenomenon of Language

The Phenomenon of Language course is open to DA students by teacher recommendation only and is also for students new to DA with no previous language experience. POL is intended to prepare the learner for a successful experience in Upper School language courses. Students learn and discuss the definition and origins of human language, both verbal and signed. This class also discusses how language is processed by the brain. Throughout the year, students can explore several languages utilizing different methods of language acquisition. In addition to linguistic lessons, cultural studies are featured as well. Emphasis is placed on study skills, organizational skills, and maintaining a growth mindset. Languages featured in Phenomenon of Language include American Sign Language, Latin, French and others. 

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