Course Search 2023-2024

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Upper School World Language Curriculum

Mission Statement: The World Language Department believes meaningful communication is fundamental to all language learning. We practice the language in context, developing cultural awareness as well as linguistic competencies. Students learn about what can be said in a world language as well as how to say it. Our program embraces progress while acknowledging that learning a language involves cycles of acceleration and adjustment.

Language Study at MBS
The Language Department offers beginner to advanced classes in French, Latin and Spanish as well as an Advanced Studies Italian course. Freshmen coming from the MBS middle school are placed through a combination of testing and teacher recommendation. New MBS students take a placement test and typically enroll in Introductory, Novice, Foundational or Building Language (see below). The graduation requirement is three consecutive years of the same language (French, Latin or Spanish) in the Upper School. For more detailed information about the Upper School language requirement, click here.

World Language Proficiency Curriculum
The World Language proficiency curriculum is designed to allow students to move forward through language at a pace that provides them opportunities for success. This curriculum reflects the most current research in the field of language instruction and is informed by benchmarks and best practices defined by the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages. The courses are defined by performance objectives rather than time spent learning the language. These performance objectives provide information for students about what they must consistently demonstrate to reach a particular level, putting them in control of their own progress. Teachers will expose students to language in a manner that allows them to meet benchmarks for the level above their current level. Thus students can move through the sequence at a pace that fits their language development, advancing past levels if they demonstrate competence in the relevant benchmarks. The sequence is illustrated below. Students demonstrate extraordinary achievement by advancing to Experienced and Advanced courses.

Sample Student Trajectories



The MBS Upper School Program


French and Spanish

The ultimate goal of second language study is the ability to communicate effectively in a variety of situations. This requires that students develop oral, aural, written, grammatical, lexical and cultural forms of linguistic competency. We endeavor to develop all forms of competency through use of a variety of approaches, with special emphasis on appropriate use of the target language in various contexts. As students reach upper level courses, increased emphasis is placed on higher order thinking carried out in the language being studied. A variety of assessment practices (oral, aural, written, project-based, formative and summative) measures student progress across the range of required abilities. While mastery of vocabulary and basic structural elements of language is required, the MBS language program strives to maintain a vibrant and stimulating atmosphere of learning in which student engagement and active participation in class activities are strongly promoted.

Latin
In addition to the ability to comprehend ancient Latin texts, the study of Latin develops a host of skills that are applicable in all disciplines. It trains the mind to observe text carefully and analytically and to reach appropriate conclusions based on both detail and context. It promotes analytical and synthetic thinking, intellectual and linguistic rigor, and effective, clear communication. It also contributes to gaining self-knowledge through learning about the origins of Western Civilization. Beginning with the study of the elementary components of Latin, students progressively acquire more complex decoding abilities which lead to the development of reading proficiency. Latin students will also delve into various aspects of Roman literature and history, culture and mythology, thereby observing connections that demonstrate the continued relevance of the classical legacy to contemporary civilization.


Advanced Studies: Italian Language, Conversation, and Culture
This course is not offered every year
This advanced course is for students who have fulfilled the language requirement and wish to continue their study with a new language. Students successfully completing this course should be able to place into intermediate Italian in their first year of college. Complete course description below.


Travel and Immersion Programs
In coordination with the Global Studies Program, the World Language department participates in the School's global outreach efforts by organizing trips to Francophone and Hispanophone regions of the world as well as to those countries important to the study of the classical world and its languages. Recent trips include Montreal, Rome, Costa Rica, Cuba and Panama. Financial aid is available for eligible participants. In addition, the department offers a French exchange with a partner school in Nantes, France.


Overview of Course Offerings

Introductory - Experienced French, French 5, AP 

Introductory - Experienced Spanish, AP
Introductory - Advanced Latin

Introductory, Novice, Foundational and Building Language

Language instruction begins with the development of strong basic communication skills in many routine topics such as greetings, introductions, personal and family identity, basic needs and wants, likes and dislikes, introduction to food, time and weather, school life and leisure activities. Students continue to practice the four basic language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing) as they strive towards competency in the above areas. Culture is integrated into the classroom through use of authentic materials (audio, audio-visual, textual, internet and print-based). While initially the focus of instruction is not on grammar or vocabulary, a high level of mastery requires that vocabulary be acquired and that students be knowledgeable about the basic structural features of language (e.g. tense, conjugation, gender, agreement). By the end of this sequence of courses, students will have actively learned a variety of communication functions (such as narration, description, comparing and contrasting), will have practiced various modes of communication in both written and oral form (interpersonal, interpretive, presentational) and will have read short fiction and verse.

Introductory

Benchmark upon completion: The student communicates with limited flexibility in vocabulary and structure, using high-frequency words and rote phrases.

Introductory French

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course

Introductory Latin

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course

Introductory Spanish

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course

Novice

Benchmark upon completion: The student communicates with emerging flexibility in vocabulary and structure, using high-frequency vocabulary words, rote phrases and simple sentences.

Novice French

Prerequisites: Competency in Introductory French performance benchmarks

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course

Novice Latin

Instructor: Department staff

Prerequisites: Competency in Introductory Latin performance benchmarks

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course

Novice Spanish

Prerequisites: Competency in Introductory Spanish performance benchmarks

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course

Foundational

Benchmark upon completion: The student communicates with growing flexibility in vocabulary and structure, and uses simple sentences with confidence in the present tense.

Foundational French

Prerequisites: Competency in Novice French performance benchmarks

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course

Foundational Latin

Prerequisites: Competency in Novice Latin performance benchmarks

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course

Foundational Spanish

Prerequisites: Competency in Novice Spanish performance benchmarks

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course

Building

Benchmark upon completion: The student communicates with growing flexibility in vocabulary and structure, and uses simple and original discourse with emerging ability in the past tenses.

Building French

Prerequisites: Competency in Foundational French performance benchmarks

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course

Building Spanish

Prerequisites: Competency in Foundational Spanish performance benchmarks

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course

Building Latin

Prerequisites: Competency in Foundational Latin performance benchmarks

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course

Intermediate and Experienced Spanish and French

In these courses, conducted primarily in the target language, students will continue to practice communication abilities in many every-day contexts, but with emphasis on developing vocabulary, structures and usage that reflect more sophisticated thinking abilities within the target language (evaluation, analysis, synthesis, creative writing). Growth is promoted through in-depth projects and tasks, and greater contact with authentic materials. Courses progressively emphasize working in the language as much as on the language; as such, student participation in the target language is required. As in the lower levels, all fundamental language skills are encouraged (listening, reading, speaking, writing), but with increased expectations for sustained discourse in the target language and creative use of previously practiced skills. A high degree of proficiency in previously studied material is implicit in upper-level classes.

Intermediate French

Prerequisites: Competency in Building French performance benchmarks

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course

Benchmark upon completion: The student communicates with increased flexibility in vocabulary and structure. The student confidently uses simple and complex sentences to express original ideas in extended discourse in the present and past tense.

Intermediate Spanish

Prerequisites: Competency in Building Spanish performance benchmarks

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course

Benchmark upon completion: The student communicates with increased flexibility in vocabulary and structure. The student confidently uses simple and complex sentences to express original ideas in extended discourse in the present and past tense.

Contemporary Hispanic Narratives

Prerequisites: Competency in Intermediate Spanish performance benchmarks

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course

This is a year long course designed to deepen cross-cultural awareness while developing increased growth and flexibility in vocabulary, structure, and usage. Working within a contextualized and highly immersive setting, students engage with a range of narrative forms from throughout the Spanish speaking world, including but not limited to short stories, film, and song lyrics. Within this context, students broaden their understanding of hispanic cultures and perspectives while developing the linguistic skills needed to engage in discourse of increased complexity and sophistication.

Experienced French

Prerequisites: Competency in Intermediate French performance benchmarks

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course

Benchmark upon completion: The student manages all familiar and some unfamiliar contexts across various time frames. The student communicates using language which is resourceful and fluid while elaborating and integrating relevant detail. The student engages in higher order thinking skills such as analysis, synthesis and evaluation while continuing to develop linguistic competency.

Experienced Spanish

Prerequisites: Competency in Intermediate Spanish performance benchmarks

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course

Benchmark upon completion: The student manages all familiar and some unfamiliar contexts across various time frames. The student communicates using language which is resourceful and fluid while elaborating and integrating relevant detail. The student engages in higher order thinking skills such as analysis, synthesis and evaluation while continuing to develop linguistic competency.

Heritage Spanish Language

This is a yearlong course designed to engage and promote a high level of speaking, thinking, and writing for Hispanic heritage speakers. Upon completion of one or two years, students will enter Experienced and Advanced Spanish, respectively. The Heritage Spanish course will run yearly, with each year alternating between A and B years, with A years focusing on authentic, non-fiction memoirs and historical documents highlighting the diverse voices encompassed in the Latin American identity. B years will focus on literary fiction from Latin America, and the dominant stylistic trends that represent novels, poetry, and short stories from this part of the world. This is a seminar style course with copious reliance upon treatment and discussion of primary source material. There will be student presentations, frequent writing assignments to cultivate written expression and one major project or paper per semester.

Heritage Spanish Language B

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: Interview with instructor

Open to students in the following grades: 9,10,11,12

Full Year Course

Intermediate and Experienced Latin

Intermediate and Experienced Latin continue the development of reading and comprehension skills. Reading Latin is the primary means of input for more complex syntactical forms such as subordination, participles, and the subjunctive mood, but students also enhance their comprehension through speaking, writing, and listening exercises. Continued study of morphology and its application complement the practice of close reading. Students also begin to make forays into literature, art, poetic meter, figures of speech, and comparative analysis.

Intermediate Latin

Prerequisites: Permission of instructor

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course

Intermediate Latin continues the development of reading and comprehension skills. Reading Latin is the primary means of input for more complex syntactical forms such as subordination, participles, and the subjunctive mood, but students also enhance their comprehension through speaking, writing, and listening exercises. Continued study of morphology and its application through complement the practice of close reading. Students also begin to make forays into literature, art, poetic meter, figures of speech, and comparative analysis.

Experienced Latin

Prerequisites: Permission of instructor

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course

In this course students read original works of Latin literature with emphasis on comprehension and interpretation beyond the superficial level of grammatical understanding. Vocabulary and grammar development as well as refinement in grammatical analysis continue, as does the investigation of Roman culture and history through the readings.

Advanced Language Courses -- AP and Advanced Studies

Both the AP French and AP Spanish language and culture classes have been revised to reflect recent changes in the College Board curriculum. The primary focus in both classes is thematic and "modal," this latter referring to the communicational exigencies tested by the exams themselves. The six "modes" of communication are written and spoken interpersonal, written and spoken interpretive, written and spoken presentational. The French and Spanish AP exams require that students be exposed to a broad spectrum of themes. Treatment of these themes will privilege the various modes of communication while also developing the student's ability to read critically, analyze, compare and contrast, evaluate, express opinions, critique and support. The majority of coursework is carried out using authentic materials which promote a very high degree of both linguistic and cultural competence. Students in AP courses are required to take the AP exam in order to receive AP credit for the class.

Advanced Studies: Gender and Power in Latin Literature

Enrollment limited to: 10

Prerequisites: Experienced Latin and permission of instructor

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Full Year Course

This course explores the interaction between gender and power through authentic Latin literature. Students improve their ability to read Latin with comprehension of syntax and vocabulary and will develop their analytical abilities through discussion, literary analysis, and the study of Latin metrics. They explore topics such as masculinity and femininity, gendered behavior, systems of oppression, and power structures. They look for both continuities and ruptures between ancient ways of understanding gender and power and our own.?

AP French Language

Prerequisites: Teacher Recommendation

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course

AP Spanish Language

Prerequisites: Teacher Recommendation

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course