Skip To Main Content

Upper School World Languages Curriculum

The World Languages Department offers a proficiency-centered language program in Chinese, French, Latin, and Spanish. Our program is aligned with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) levels of proficiency, with attention toward accuracy.

The World Languages Department believes that learning and studying languages is vital to living a life of curiosity, authenticity, and empathy. As we believe in joyful language learning, we create opportunities for students to think critically, creatively, and collaboratively.

We aim for our students to become ethical global citizens as they grow their language proficiency and advance toward creativity and self-inquiry. We hope our students develop cultural competency and a deep curiosity about their own and others’ cultures.

The World Languages Department recognizes that:

  • There is a difference between student skills and language skills;
  • Students are individuals and progress at their own pace in learning a language;
  • Learning a language requires a significant amount of time and practice;
  • Our program always meets a student where they are in their language acquisition;
  • and additional work, time, or expenses are not required to take any of our courses.
     

Return to Full Upper School Curriculum Page

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 toward 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 and express how their own language and social behaviors follow cultural norms.

  • Seek out and enjoy 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 Levels

Our teaching methods and course titles reflect target proficiency levels and what students can do with the language in the three modes of communication — interpersonal (for modern languages), interpretive, and presentational. Assessment and placement are individual and intentional, allowing us to support each student where they are in their language proficiency journey.

At the end of the school year, students will be placed into the course that matches their proficiency level. The department places students on an individual basis.

Upper School World Languages Course Offerings

Select Grade Level

Filter by category

Novice Chinese

Novice Chinese is an introduction to the study of Mandarin Chinese and Chinese culture. The classroom experience is grounded in the four communicative skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

Read More about Novice Chinese
Novice Mid Chinese

The goal of Novice Mid Chinese is to progress to the Novice Mid level, as specified by ACTFL proficiency guidelines. The classroom experience is grounded in the four communicative skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

Read More about Novice Mid Chinese
Novice High Chinese

The goal of Novice High Chinese is to progress from the Novice Mid to the Novice High level, as specified by ACTFL proficiency guidelines.

Read More about Novice High Chinese
Intermediate Low Chinese

The goal of Intermediate Low Chinese is to progress from the Novice High to the Intermediate Low level, as specified by ACTFL proficiency guidelines. The classroom experience is grounded in the four communicative skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

Read More about Intermediate Low Chinese
Intermediate Mid Chinese

The goal of Intermediate Mid Chinese is to progress from the Intermediate Low to the Intermediate Mid level, as specified by ACTFL proficiency guidelines. The classroom experience is grounded in the four communicative skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

Read More about Intermediate Mid Chinese
ADV Chinese: Advanced Studies I

Advanced Studies in Chinese I caters to students with a robust proficiency at the Intermediate High level in Speaking, Listening, Reading, and Writing, coupled with a keen interest in delving into critical issues such as the U.S.-China relationship and social justice through the lens of Chinese language and culture.

Read More about ADV Chinese: Advanced Studies I
ADV Chinese: Advanced Studies II

Advanced Studies in Chinese II aims to further enhance students’ proficiency in Speaking, Listening, Reading, and Writing at an advanced level. This course also nurtures critical thinking skills, alongside a keen interest in exploring pressing issues such as climate change and economic development, all while examining China’s role in Asia and the world.

Read More about ADV Chinese: Advanced Studies II
Novice French

Novice French is an introduction to the study of French and Francophone language and culture. The classroom experience is grounded in the four communicative skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

Read More about Novice French
Novice Mid French

The goal of Novice Mid French is to progress to the Novice Mid level, as specified by 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 to authentic materials appropriate to their level. The class is taught mostly in the target language, and students are expected to use French to the best of their ability.

Read More about Novice Mid French
Novice High French

The goal of Novice High French is to progress from the Novice Mid to the Novice High level, as specified by ACTFL proficiency guidelines. The classroom experience is grounded in the four communicative skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

Read More about Novice High French
Intermediate Low French

The goal of Intermediate Low French is to progress from the Novice High to the Intermediate Low level, as specified by ACTFL proficiency guidelines. The classroom experience is grounded in the four communicative skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

Read More about Intermediate Low French
Intermediate Mid French

The goal of Intermediate Mid French is to progress from the Intermediate Low to the Intermediate Mid level, as specified by ACTFL proficiency guidelines. Intermediate Mid French is an immersion course designed to empower students with confidence in speaking and writing about contemporary themes related to the Francophone world.

Read More about Intermediate Mid French
Cultural Themes in French 

This new elective course provides students with the opportunity to continue to grow their language proficiency and broaden their cultural competency. Using authentic resources, class discussions, and investigative projects, students learn about traditions of the global Francophone world (e.g. France, the Caribbean, Canada, Louisiana, Maine, North and Sub-Saharan Africa, Vietnam, and Cambodia).

Read More about Cultural Themes in French 
ADV Francophone Literatures: Social Discontent

This course will explore the theme of social discontent in the short stories and poems of the late 19th century and first part of the 20th century (the Belle Époque), notably by authors of the realist and naturalist movements.

Read More about ADV Francophone Literatures: Social Discontent
ADV French Language: Francophone News and Stories

What does La Francophonie mean? This course explores the French-speaking world both through fiction, poetry, film and journalistic texts, and video. This class develops French proficiency from the Intermediate Mid to the Intermediate High levels, touching on the Advanced Low level, according to ACTFL proficiency guidelines.

Read More about ADV French Language: Francophone News and Stories
Novice Latin

Novice Latin is an introduction to the study of the Latin language and ancient Roman history and culture. Students learn basic vocabulary, grammar, and translation skills through reading a combination of simplified Roman sources and modern texts. Students become acquainted with Roman culture, history, and mythology, and they spend considerable time on Latin word roots in English.

Read More about Novice Latin
Novice Mid Latin

This course builds on and reinforces the foundational skills introduced in Novice Latin. The goal of the course is to progress from the Novice Mid to the Novice High level.

Read More about Novice Mid Latin
Novice High Latin

The course continues the student’s introduction to Latin grammar, focusing on the skill of interpreting and translating increasingly complex Latin sentences and stories.

Read More about Novice High Latin
Intermediate Low Latin

Students expand their vocabulary and grammar skills by translating authentic Latin texts. The goal of the class is to develop students’ comfort reading, translating, and interpreting unadapted Roman sources, as well as working with more advanced grammatical structures like the subjunctive mood.

Read More about Intermediate Low Latin
Intermediate Mid Latin

This course allows students who already have experience reading and interpreting authentic Latin texts to explore the characteristics of Latin literature, as they spend the year reading passages from a variety of genres, including both poetry and prose.

Read More about Intermediate Mid Latin
ADV Latin: Cultural Themes in Classical Latin

In this course, students investigate the history and culture of classical Rome through analysis of complex Latin texts. The course particularly emphasizes the literature of the Imperial period as a continuation of the earlier exploration of Republican-era literature.

Read More about ADV Latin: Cultural Themes in Classical Latin
ADV Latin: Cultural Themes in Post-Classical Latin

Latin literature has a long and complex history beyond the height of the Roman Empire. In this course, students explore the history of Latin literature beyond the classical period, learning both how the language developed and changed over time, and the ways in which the Latin language was adapted to new contexts.

Read More about ADV Latin: Cultural Themes in Post-Classical Latin
Novice Spanish

Novice Spanish is an introduction to the study of Spanish language and Spanish-speaking cultures. 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.

Read More about Novice Spanish
Novice Mid Spanish

The goal of Novice Mid Spanish is to continue to progress solidly into the Novice Mid level, as specified by ACTFL proficiency guidelines. The classroom experience is grounded in the four communicative skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

Read More about Novice Mid Spanish
Novice High Spanish

The goal of Novice High Spanish is to progress from the Novice Mid to Novice High level, as specified by 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.

Read More about Novice High Spanish
Intermediate Low Spanish

The goal of Intermediate Low Spanish is to progress from the Novice High to the Intermediate Low level, as specified by ACTFL proficiency guidelines. The classroom experience is grounded in the four communicative skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

Read More about Intermediate Low Spanish
Intermediate Mid Spanish

The goal of Intermediate Mid Spanish is to progress from the Intermediate Low to the Intermediate Mid level, as specified by ACTFL proficiency guidelines. The classroom experience is grounded in the four communicative skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

Read More about Intermediate Mid Spanish
Intermediate High Spanish

The goal of Intermediate High Spanish is to progress from the Intermediate Low and/or Mid to the Intermediate High level, as specified by ACTFL proficiency guidelines. Intermediate High Spanish is a pre-Advanced class and prepares students to do Advanced coursework.

Read More about Intermediate High Spanish
Spanish for Heritage Speakers

Spanish for Heritage Speakers is a full-year course designed for students who have been raised in homes where Spanish is spoken as the primary language and who can also read and write at an Intermediate Mid level or higher.

Read More about Spanish for Heritage Speakers
Cultural Themes in Spanish: Spain

In this semester course, we explore the “Traditions, Customs, and Symbols of Spain.” While Spain is a modern, forward-thinking European country, it is essential to understand its people, places, and past that have shaped the country into what it is today.

Read More about Cultural Themes in Spanish: Spain
Cultural Themes in Spanish: South America

Throughout this semester course, we will delve into the intricate histories of Chile and Argentina, celebrate the diverse cultures of the Southern Cone, and explore the ongoing pursuit of justice.

Read More about Cultural Themes in Spanish: South America
ADV Spanish Language 1: Reshaping Communities

Reshaping Communities: Education, Health and Tech is an Advanced Spanish class that explores contemporary societal changes by integrating linguistic proficiency with a focused study of education, health, and technology.

Read More about ADV Spanish Language 1: Reshaping Communities
ADV Spanish Language 1: Global Challenges

Global Challenges is an Advanced Spanish class that explores contemporary societal issues through linguistic proficiency and critical analysis. Students will engage with the complexities of discrimination, feminism, and immigration, gaining insights into socio-political dynamics and cultural implications. Designed at the Advanced Mid level, the course aligns with ACTFL proficiency guidelines, providing students with the language skills to navigate and contribute to meaningful discussions on these pressing global challenges.

Read More about ADV Spanish Language 1: Global Challenges
ADV Spanish Literature: The Golden Age

This Advanced course explores the Siglo de Oro, or Golden Age, of Spanish literature — the 16th and 17th centuries — with an emphasis on Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quijote de la Mancha. Don Quijote — a medieval knight in his imagination, a Renaissance man in his actions and a Baroque character par excellence — is our lens into the evolution of thought, language, and literature in the Spanish-speaking world from the Middle Ages to the discovery of the New World.

Read More about ADV Spanish Literature: The Golden Age
ADV Spanish Literature: The Latin American Boom

This Advanced course explores the Latin American Boom from the 20th century, when Latin American writers took the world of Spanish letters by storm with an explosion of talent that was universally recognized. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez — considered by many to be the best novel ever written in Spanish or in any language — will be at the focus of our study, along with other Boom authors and women authors whose contributions to the Boom have been more recently recognized. This course develops Spanish proficiency from the Advanced Low to the Advanced Mid levels, according to ACTFL proficiency guidelines. 

Read More about ADV Spanish Literature: The Latin American Boom
ADV Spanish Language 2: From Lyrics to Language

This Advanced Spanish course delves into the profound impact of influential Hispanic artists on language, music, and cultural landscapes. Focused on Shakira as a central figure, the course explores her cultural contributions, analyzes works of other iconic artists, dissects lyrics to explore themes, and engages in sociocultural exploration.

Read More about ADV Spanish Language 2: From Lyrics to Language
ADV Spanish Language 2: Echoes of Empires

This is an Advanced Spanish class that combines linguistic analysis with a deep exploration of the historical and cultural influences of the Inca, Aztec, and Mayan civilizations in contemporary Latin America. This challenging course offers a historical dive into the socio-political dynamics, art, science, and belief systems of these empires.

Read More about ADV Spanish Language 2: Echoes of Empires