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. Basically, all the fundamentals of listening, speaking, reading, and writing are constantly practiced and learned. Attention is also given to introduction to some basic Chinese culture aspects. This course is taught in Chinese, except only occasional English words where they are absolutely necessary. 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. Written exercises, dictations, oral- and listening-comprehension drills, and short-story reading accompany assignments. Chinese culture is an integral part of this course. At this level, Chinese is used exclusively in the classroom. By the end of the second year, students should be able to use approximately 500 characters linguistically and pragmatically correctly.
  • 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 used 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 will have covered the major grammar rules and structures of modern Chinese and should be able to read and write approximately 1000 characters linguistically and pragmatically correctly.
  • 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. We will use 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 will be 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 get students prepared for AP Chinese exam.
  • French I

    An introductory level course, French I uses the direct or immersion method (i.e. students use only French in the classroom from day one) to introduce students to the French language and francophone cultures with a view to building both oral and written proficiency in the target language. The course covers fundamental vocabulary and grammatical structures essential for rudimentary communication 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: Advanced

    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. Students will explore the themes of reflection Francophone societies hold dear. They will get acquainted with the linguistic tools and cultural codes to access various types of authentic material; the humanistic philosophers who shaped contemporary values, literature, newspaper articles, essays and any artistic form of expression. Audio and video recordings, as well as francophone films, will be studied to discuss sociopolitical issues and to provide a range of cultural material for analysis. Students should expect frequent writing assignments in response to required readings as well as frequent oral presentations. Both oral and written assignments require students to express themselves formally in the target language.
  • Latin I

    Following a traditional method using Wheelock’s Latin, students learn the fundamentals of grammar by precept while engaging actively in the reading of text. They see the ways in which the word order of Latin differs radically from English, and they learn the art of identifying sentence structure through word endings. One day per week is devoted to study of the culture and history of the Roman legacy.  
  • Latin II

    For much of the year, students continue with the Wheelock’s Latin system, reading passages of increasing difficulty, learning more complicated grammatical structures, and expanding their vocabulary. Late in the year, the class will shift its focus away from the study of grammar and begin devoting more time to translation, reading select passages from authentic Roman authors such as Livy and Ovid.
  • Latin III

    Students continue developing translation skills, reading a variety of Roman authors. The primary focus is on reading for detail and accuracy, which students are expected to demonstrate both through verbal class work and through quizzes and tests on prepared translations. Late in the year, we will introduce scansion of poetry, and in the last trimester, we will read a portion of the first book of Vergil’s great epic poem of Rome, The Aeneid.
  • 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.
  • Spanish I

    The first-year program emphasizes the development of a strong foundation in Spanish in a language-immersion classroom and the mastery of the study skills required for language learning. 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 be placed above the first level, new students must demonstrate solid mastery of fundamental language skills including speaking, listening, and basic grammar, as well as mastery of the present indicative and el pretérito.
  • Spanish II

    Building upon the base established in Spanish I, this course focuses on the improvement of the students' communicative skills with the goal of bolstering their 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, mastery of complex points of grammar, and on free conversation, discussion, writing, and reading. The year begins with a brief review of the present indicative and el pretérito and then moves quickly into new tenses. By the year's end, students will have mastered all of the tenses in both the indicative and subjunctive moods.
  • Spanish III

    This year-long class will be divided into three discrete trimesters, each taught by a different teacher and dedicated to the study of a single Spanish-speaking country. Topics covered include: general history, culture, literature, film, country-specific dialects, and current events. Our goal is for students to emerge, at the end of each trimester, with a good understanding of the cultural norms for each country and, at the end of the year, an appreciation for the rich cultural diversity of the Hispanic world.
  • Spanish IV

    This year-long class is designed for those students who wish to continue their study of Latin American and Hispanic culture but are not ready to go on to the AP level. There is 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 read short stories and articles to stimulate class discussions.
  • Spanish V: AP Spanish Language

    This year-long class is designed to provide students who have advanced level language proficiency the opportunity to practice the four major language skills: speaking, writing, reading, and listening. The class focus changes each trimester: the first centers on understanding Hispanic identity; the second, on significant socio-political issues in the Spanish speaking world (immigration, racism, sexism, narcotráfico); and the third, contemporary life, featuring an opportunity to partner with The Green Valley School in Costa Rica to encourage cross-cultural communication. To facilitate discussion and comprehension, we will read works of literature, watch films, and engage in casual charlas. Students will take the AP exam in the spring.
  • Spanish VI: Post-AP Literature

    This year-long course offers advanced level students the opportunity to study works of literature that share a single thematic focus. The theme changes from year to year, and next year it will divide by trimester. In the first trimester, we’ll study poetry; in the second, short stories; and in the third, novels. In addition to improving their reading comprehension, students in the course will hone their skills by writing analytical essays, reaction pieces, and creative responses to the works they read. Classes center around discussion and analysis of the literature, relying on the works studied to act as a window into issues of import in Hispanic culture.

Faculty

  • Marion Perry

    Chair of the Language Department and Spanish Teacher
    Brown University - BA
    Middlebury College - MA
    Bio
  • Edgar Arceo

    Fisher Fellow, Spanish and Psychology Teacher
    Kenyon College - BA
    Bio
  • Katherine Halsey

    French and English Teacher and Riding Instructor
    Stanford University - BA
    Bio
  • Luis Hernández

    Spanish Teacher
    University of California, Santa Barbara - BA
    University of California, Santa Barbara - MA
    Bio
  • Jeffrey Hooper

    Spanish and History Teacher
    Trinity University - BA
    University of Texas - MA
    Bio
  • Françoise Kasimirowski-Garcia

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

    Spanish Teacher and Sustainability Coordinator
    UNED Costa Rica - BS
    Tufts University - MA
    Bio
  • Aaron Snyder

    Latin and English Teacher
    Princeton University - AB
    Middlebury - MA
    Bio