We believe that the ability to communicate across languages and cultures is vital to the development of global citizenship. The Languages Department offers five language options – Chinese, French, Greek, Latin and Spanish – each with the aim of developing empathetic practitioners of a second language who are communicatively proficient and culturally aware. Students are asked to participate as members of a language learning community that shares the experience of exploring both what is local and what is global. Class activities are designed to increase listening, reading, writing and speaking abilities to more profoundly appreciate and understand cultural expression and diversity.
The modern languages curriculum focuses on the development through classes conducted almost exclusively in the target language. In introductory French and Spanish, we immerse students in the languages from the first days of their study. In introductory Chinese, we help students learn to read and write Chinese characters and progress toward speaking only Chinese. In the Classics, students and teachers concentrate on the examination of authentic materials in an effort to internalize inflections and idiomatic expressions and then progress to interpreting texts more abstractly. Projects on cuisine, investigations of historic architecture, and writing applications for admission into a foreign university are some of the experiences that help promote a more curious, sensitive, and respectful sense of the world’s various cultural practices.
The languages curriculum is structured to be inclusive to all language learners, regardless of their experience, and to be far-reaching so as to inspire and sustain students’ ambitions. The two-part language graduation requirement includes successful completion of the Level III coursework and passing a school-administered proficiency examination in that language. After fulfilling the language requirement, most boys elect to continue language study at the advanced level. In the modern languages, boys in honors or accelerated courses may qualify for AP-level work. In Latin, well-qualified students may begin AP-level work after completing Latin III. For boys who wish to continue studying a language but are not yet ready to meet the demands of an AP course, there is a non-Advanced Placement Level IV/V. Also, many boys with a strong language background and ability may enroll concurrently in two languages. Students who have successfully completed all upper-level courses may pursue a course of advanced independent study.