Departmental Offerings

The following course descriptions detail the likely offerings during any school year, though specifics will vary from term to term and course lineups are always changing. Click on the course titles below for full descriptions.

  • Chinese I

    This course introduces students to Mandarin Chinese (the official modern language of China and Taiwan, also known as guoyu or putonghua). The class begins with pronunciation, tones, Chinese character writing (including practicing calligraphy with brushes and ink), and simple vocabulary study. Sentence patterns and other fundamentals of speaking, reading, and writing are taught. Students will learn how to use a Chinese dictionary and Chinese computer software in the second half of the school year. The focus of this beginning Chinese course is on listening and speaking.
  • Chinese II

    With accelerated introduction of vocabulary, grammar, and sentence patterns, the course enables students to converse, read, and write in modern Chinese about various real life situations such as discussing one’s likes and dislikes; school subjects and holidays; weather and seasons; asking and giving permission and directions; and describing people and actions. Written exercises, dictation, oral- and listening-comprehension drills, and short-story reading accompany assignments. By the end of the second year students should be able to actively use an additional 500 characters.
  • Chinese III

    This course is a continuation of Chinese II and emphasizes the development of skills in listening comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing modern Chinese while enhancing cultural awareness. At this level, Chinese is spoken exclusively in the classroom. The traditional Chinese writing system is introduced from the beginning of the third year and students are expected to be able to convert the simplified characters to the traditional and vice-versa. By year end, students have covered the major grammar rules of modern Chinese and should be able to read and write approximately 1000 characters.
  • Chinese IV: AP Chinese

    This year-long course is designed to enable advanced Chinese-learning students to further develop their overall language proficiency through intensive and extensive study of selected texts representing various aspects of Chinese culture, society, history, as well as literary genres. The course uses the college-level text Integrated Chinese (Level II Part II) and AP Chinese material. The class emphasizes the development of students’ reading and writing skills. Oral presentation and written homework are assigned regularly. Students are trained and encouraged to solve linguistic as well as cultural problems encountered in their assigned readings, with the help of given annotations and dictionaries. Watching and discussing a popular Chinese-teaching sitcom Home With Kids is an integral part of Chinese IV. The ultimate goal of this course is to successfully prepare students for the AP Chinese exam. Enrollment by permission of the Department.
  • Chinese V: Chinese Composition and Conversation

    This is a year-long intensive advanced Chinese course for the further enhancement of comprehensive linguistic competence and cultural literacy necessary to converse freely with native speakers of Chinese. This purpose is to be attained by means of studying and discussing a variety of authentic texts from the humanities, social sciences, and mass media. Special attention is also given to developing essay-writing skills through written assignments of different genres on a regular basis. Watching and discussing a popular Chinese-teaching sitcom Home With Kids continues to be an integral part of Chinese V. Enrollment by permission of the Department.
  • French I

    An introductory course, French I uses the direct method, employing French in Action—a video-based curriculum whose stated objective is “total language teaching through immersion—the presentation of French language and culture in a way that simulates the experience of actually being in France.” The program introduces students to French language and culture with a view to accomplishing both oral and written proficiency in the target language. At the end of the course, students will be able to communicate comfortably in French in hypothetical everyday situations, asking questions and responding in declarative sentences (both orally and in writing), accurately using both the present and past tenses.
  • French II

    French II resumes where French I leaves off, building on the foundations laid in the lessons covered in the first year. In addition to the present and past tenses, students study the future, present and past conditional, and present subjunctive tenses. In the second semester, students read selected works by Francophone authors. In order to enter the second year, students must have a firm grasp of both the formation and usage of le passé composé and l’imparfait.
  • French III

    In French III, students continue to develop the oral and grammatical skills emphasized in French I and II and begin to focus more carefully on improving their proficiency in reading and writing. Students in French III complete an intensive grammar review throughout the fall semester, which provides them with the tools to take on increasingly challenging reading and writing assignments as the year progresses. The reading list is varied and extensive, ranging from magazine and newspaper articles to poetry and full-length novels. Students regularly prepare essays on a variety of topics, including social issues, literature, and personal experiences, to help them to refine their writing skills and aid them in developing the analytical and interpretive skills needed to form sound opinions about literature, culture and society. Required oral presentations enable students to gain confidence in their ability to express themselves clearly and correctly in French.
  • French IV

    This year-long course reinforces the four basic language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing introduced in earlier French courses. In this course, students are encouraged to apply their critical thinking skills to the use of their second language. It also solidifies students’ grammatical knowledge through a selective review of complex structures. Students will deepen their understanding of French culture and society through literary texts, classroom discussion, authentic media materials, and other written and visual sources. Both oral and written assignments require students to express themselves formally in the target language, and perfect their skills.
  • French V: AP French Language

    This year-long course is intended for students who combine significant oral and written proficiency in French with a keen desire to master the subtler details of grammar, diction, and idiom to develop both oral and written fluency. The course is organized around six overarching themes as set by the The College Board: les défis mondiaux; la science et la technologie; la vie contemporaine; la quête de soi; la famille et la communauté; la beauté et l'esthétique. Students read French literature, as well as current selections from newspapers and magazines. Audio and video recordings, as well as French films, will be studied to enhance aural skills and to provide current cultural material for analysis. Short dramatic readings and presentation of memorized scenes will be required. Students have frequent writing assignments in response to required readings and well as frequent oral presentations. The class is conducted exclusively in French. Enrollment by permission of the Department.
  • French VI

    This advanced French course hones the comprehensive linguistic competence and cultural awareness necessary to converse freely with native speakers of French and get acquainted with the values that French-speaking cultures hold dear. Students study and discuss a variety of authentic written or audio documents relevant to various aspects of the French-speaking culture. The class emphasizes the development of students’ reading, speaking, and writing skills through exposure to different literary, historical, political, cinematographic, and sociological supports relevant to the language and culture, including contemporary issues reflected in films. Enrollment by permission of the department.
  • Latin I

    Following a traditional prescriptive method based upon Wheelock’s Latin, students are introduced to the language with an intense grammatical focus. As mastery develops, the Cambridge Latin Book I is incorporated. Much time is spent reading, with an examination of grammar introduced into each reading lesson. The Wheelock/Cambridge combination allows students to learn the fundamentals of grammar by precept while engaging actively in the reading of text. Ultimately, the students must consider questions such as why the subject and the direct object have different endings, and why the word order differs so radically from English. One day of each week is devoted to an examination of cultural and historical aspects of the Roman legacy.
  • Latin II

    Latin II continues with the Cambridge University system, teaching reading and grammar simultaneously. Passages of increasing difficulty are read, accompanied by more intensive drills in grammar. Besides the daily translation and practice in case, tense, voice, and the like, one day of the week is devoted to Roman culture in the context of the Greek and Egyptian influences. The class begins to read Ovid. In order to emphasize the similarities of Roman and modern ethical and political issues, the class reads and thoroughly discusses the first three acts of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. To emphasize the totally different outlook of mediaeval culture, students read eleventh- and twelfth-century accounts such as the voyages of St. Brendan.
  • Latin III

    This course emphasizes tone and nuance. At this stage the student is expected to translate accurately, and therefore the course focuses on conveying the feeling of the original in oral and written translations. St. Jerome’s Medieval Latin translations from the demotic Greek are compared with the King James and Modern English versions with considerable discussion. More Ovid is read and Virgil’s Aeneid is assigned on a weekly basis for written translation. Much time is given to practice in scansion and chanting with the year-end goal of students doing so at sight. Latin III concentrates on the classics: Ovid, Caesar, and Virgil’s Aeneid. In Virgil, considerable time is spent on scansion as well as translation. An introduction to Medieval Latin is also offered.
  • Latin IV: AP Latin

    This year-long course guides students through the process of reading large portions of Vergil’s Aeneid and Caesar’s Gallic War using the original Latin text. The major focus of the course is on fluency, precision, and elegance of translation, with emphasis on style and literary technique. Students complement their translation work with a broader study of Vergil’s masterpiece, reading the complete text in English and studying its larger themes in order to inform the close reading of individual Latin passages. Students also continue the quest to expand their vocabularies with frequent word lists. Students are well prepared for the Advanced Placement examination in May. Enrollment by permission of the Department.
  • Spanish I

    The first-year program emphasizes the development of a strong foundation in Spanish. Through the use of a variety of Spanish spoken throughout the world, students are introduced to pronunciation as well as basic grammatical structures, vocabulary, and language-study techniques. This course develops basic communicative oral and written skills in order to enable students to interact in simple situations at home or when traveling. To reach this level of proficiency, we use Vistas, a video-based program designed to introduce students to aspects of Hispanic culture as they tackle the beginning levels of Spanish language and grammar. It combines a video lesson comprised of teleplay (which features the adventures of a group of students from Spanish speaking countries) and a "pedagogical" or "vocabulary-building" section with the more traditional textbook, workbook, and accompanying audio cassette for each lesson. To be placed above the first level, new students must demonstrate solid mastery of basic language skills including speaking, listening, and basic grammar, as well as mastery of the present and the two past tenses, el pretérito and el imperfecto.
  • Spanish II

    Building upon the base established in Spanish I, this course continues to employ the Destinos program and focuses on the improvement of the students' communicative skills with the goal of bolstering the students' confidence and comfort level in a language-immersion classroom. While continuing the same skills-oriented approach as the first-year program, teachers place increasing emphasis on vocabulary-building, complex points of grammar, and on free conversation, discussion, writing, and reading.
  • Spanish III

    Spanish III focuses on developing sophisticated communicative skills; increasing students' vocabulary; and, through the use of authentic material, broadening their cultural awareness and familiarity with the Spanish-speaking world. Throughout the year, students review fundamental points of grammar which non-native speakers tend to find problematic. They also read articles from foreign newspapers and magazines on diverse topics.
  • Spanish IV

    This year-long class is designed for students who wish to continue their study of Spanish and Hispanic culture but are not ready to go on to the AP level. There is a heavy emphasis on informal discussion, and projects (written and oral) are assigned each trimester. The students study films that address the sociopolitical issues of Spanish speaking countries and are accompanied by readings to stimulate class discussions.
  • Spanish V: Advanced Placement Spanish Language

    This year-long advanced class is designed to provide students who have near-native language proficiency the opportunity to practice the four major language skills: speaking, writing, reading, and listening. The course focuses on the six major themes determined by the College Board: la familia y la comunidad, la identidad personal y pública, los desafíos mundiales, la vida contemporánea, la ciencia y la tecnología, y la belleza y la estética. In order to improve their fluency (and to help them to prepare for the Advanced Placement exam in the spring) the students: review many of the major grammatical points that they covered in Spanish I-III; read, discuss, and write analytical papers on works of fiction and non-fiction; engage in active class discussions; and, study specialized, colloquial, and general vocabulary to broaden their vocabulary and add a level of sophistication to their language use. Enrollment by permission of the Department.
  • Spanish VI: Spanish for Bilingual Speakers

    This course is designed for Spanish speakers who have not had formal education in the language. The objective is to present different registers of the language in order to build up their vocabulary and polish their use of formal language. In addition, the students will develop their Spanish oral and writing skills in accordance with their academic level/age. In order to accomplish these goals, we will use a variety of expository texts (from different sources and from diverse Spanish speaking countries) and different literature genres. The objective is that the readings will provoke conversations, provide opportunities for writing practice, and give rise to research topics which will enhance the students’ knowledge of the language and their Spanish heritage. Enrollment by permission of Department.
  • Spanish VI: Men and Women; Their Sex, Love, and Place

    In Spanish, un problema (a problem) is male while esposas (handcuffs—also the word for wives) are female. Spanish speaking men and women communicate in a language that sexualizes the world around them. Students study the implications of sexualization from the beginning of the Spanish language to modernity and the impact it has had on men and women’s self-identity and role-fulfillment. The class is conducted entirely in Spanish. Students will read authors such as Gabriel García Márquez, Gabriela Mistral, Manuel Puig, Isabel Allende, Reinaldo Arenas, Rosario Castellano, and Federico García Lorca. They will analyze the music of Chavela Vargas and Juan Gabriel; the art of Frida Kahlo, Roberto Montenegro and Julio Galán; movies such as Todo Sobre Mi Madre, La Mala Educación, Antes Que Anochezca, Fresa y Chocolate, and Contracorriente; and a series of Telenovelas from Argentina, Colombia, and Mexico. Students inherently study Spanish grammar, syntax, and etymology along the way. Enrollment by permission of the Department.


  • Marion Perry

    Chair of Language Department; Spanish
    Brown University - BA
    Middlebury College - MA
  • Edgar Arceo

    Kenyon College - BA
  • Katherine Halsey

    French; English; Horse Program
    Stanford University - BA
  • Luis Hernández

    University of California, Santa Barbara - BA
    University of California, Santa Barbara - MA
  • Jael Hernández-Vásquez

    Spanish; Latin
    Columbia University - BA
    University of Pennsylvania - MA
  • Jeffrey Hooper

    Dean of Faculty; Spanish; History
    Trinity University - BA
    University of Texas - MA
  • Françoise Kasimirowski-Garcia

    University of Toulouse, France - BA
    University of Toulouse, France - MA
    Ashford University - MEd
  • Juan Sánchez

    Spanish; Sustainability Coordinator
    UNED Costa Rica - BS
    Tufts University - MA
  • Lijun “Eric” Shi

    Beijing Foreign Studies University - BA
    Iowa State University - MA
  • Aaron Snyder

    Dorm Head: Los Padres; Latin
    Princeton University - AB
    Middlebury - MA