In teaching Romance languages, equal emphasis is given to the four fundamental language skills–listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The basic structures of these languages are introduced in middle school: seventh graders learn useful everyday sentences and expressions and are expected to master them in both written and oral forms. Drills, dialogues, audio visual materials, elementary readings, songs, and games are used to facilitate and enliven the process.
The eighth grade curriculum reinforces and broadens the students’ understanding of fundamental grammar and syntax while expanding their vocabulary in the foreign language. With strong emphasis on the mastery of verb conjugations and simple grammatical patterns, our program fully promotes skill development through discussion of supplementary reading material and a variety of writing assignments. Oral expression, regardless of skill level, is encouraged and occurs formally in the classroom as well as in the casual atmosphere of our school halls.
In the high school, students who have completed the middle school program continue on into our level 2 classes. High school students may also begin their study of a first or second Romance language at any time during their high school career through one of two classes: for students who have never taken another Romance language or who have had shaky beginnings in French or Spanish and want to start afresh in order to build a solid foundation, we offer a High School 1 class; for students who have successfully completed at least one year of a first Romance language and wish to add a second we offer an accelerated course in which they may cover two years of that second language in one.
Our intermediate high school classes (levels 2 and 3) broaden students’ skills in all areas through the study of more complex grammar and more sophisticated vocabulary. More extensive readings (poetry, stories, short books) and writing assignments as well as diverse aural comprehension and oral expression activities are an integral part of our intermediate curriculum.
At level 4 students may choose between classes that focus on the study of contemporary French-speaking or Spanish-speaking cultures and incorporate more hands-on activities (Language and Culture), or that focus on the study of classic and contemporary literary works and advanced grammar and that incorporate more extensive writing assignments (Language and Composition).
Our level 5 classes include both traditional literature classes and classes focused on contemporary writers, cinema and art. In all our advanced classes, students continue to refine their skills in every area of language acquisition while developing their sensitivity to elements of style and tone and their ability to appreciate and critique works from the literary and visual arts. Discussions of these works serve as a catalyst for self-expression and as a means of further understanding French and Spanish cultures. We encourage expository as well as purely creative writing at all levels. Students who wish to focus more exclusively on improving their oral expression are invited to take conversation classes.