Languages

The Upper School language program encourages understanding of our world’s many interrelated languages and cultures.

Students may enroll in introductory language courses in any year in Upper School, or build upon foundations laid in Middle School by continuing into upper-level courses; graduation requirements should be taken into account. In Chinese and French, students take all courses in their numerical order. In Spanish, students follow the numerical order through Spanish IV and then may take topically focused, advanced courses in any order.

Courses aim to equip students with functional and culturally appropriate interpersonal, interpretive and presentational skills for proficient communication. Students continually exercise all four skills of language learning–reading, writing, speaking and listening–and progressively expand their grammatical and lexical knowledge. The curriculum includes opportunity for in-depth exploration of the culture(s), literature, and history associated with the language of study. Students are also encouraged to pursue cultural and linguistic experiences outside the classroom. Incoming skill level and learning needs are carefully considered during the placement process.

Chinese

Chinese I

This introductory course provides students with a firm foundation for further study. The course begins by exploring the language, culture, people, and land of the greater Chinese communities. Students learn the basics of spoken and written Chinese. Students are taught to read both traditional and simplified characters, but may choose to write only the traditional or the simplified ones. Course content focuses on communicating on topics relating to the individual: greetings, and asking and obtaining personal information such as names, ages, and favorite food items.

Chinese I is offered every year. However, the course only runs when sufficient enrollment interest exists.

Chinese II

This course builds upon the foundation established in Chinese I. Course content moves from topics relating to the individual to topics involving everyday life. Students learn to communicate about living functions, negotiate their way around places, interact with people, and express feelings. Print and video resources as well as material available online are used in this course.

Chinese II is offered every year. However, the course only runs when sufficient enrollment interest exists.

Chinese III

This intermediate course contains an integrated suite of learning materials focused on communication and authentic language used in real-life contexts. Central among these materials is a twenty-episode video series, filmed entirely on location throughout China, that includes a dramatic story line, authentic model dialogues, and segments devoted to special aspects of Chinese culture and history. The course presents a carefully structured and cumulative approach to learning Mandarin Chinese. Students progress step-by-step from listening and speaking to the more challenging skills of reading and writing Chinese characters. The emphasis is on communicative skills, for the primary goal of the program is to foster proficiency in everyday Chinese. Abundant exercises and learning activities are linked to the video episodes, while expanded learning opportunities are provided through self-paced interactive web activities, language games, an online learning community, and much more.

Chinese IV

This intermediate course continues to guide the students in building communication skills to become proficient in everyday Chinese. In addition to the increased complexity of their speaking and listening tasks, students are provided opportunities to develop their reading and writing skills by engaging in a variety of linguistic- related activities. The curriculum reviews narration skills to describe past events, and introduces the word order and some complex sentence structures in Chinese. Students read an assortment of short stories and articles to explore cultures and society. A strong emphasis is on improving their ability to recognize Chinese characters and become more proficient readers in Chinese. Reading strategies are taught and practiced during this course too. Students discuss and write about topics regularly to apply and practice complex grammar structures. This course equips students with Chinese learning strategies that enable them to engage in independent study of the language using online tools and other resources.

Chinese V

This advanced course builds upon the foundation established in the previous course, and continues to develop skills that enable learners to handle all three modes of communication: interpretive, interpersonal and presentational. The course develops students’ ability in all areas, especially preparing them to read and write in the target language. It contains a mix of ingredients to ensure that the students’ learning experience is continuously intertwined with the “Five Cs” of foreign language learning—communication, culture, connections, comparisons, and communities. The course delves into many facets of our culture and society, exposing students to a variety of topics, such as education system, political system and people’s beliefs and point of view. With the help of many carefully crafted activities, students learn to understand different cultures through different lenses. In-depth discussion and writing about a topic helps students express their opinion while they listen to each other. This allows them full participation and commitment to expression in the target language.

Chinese VI

This course builds upon the foundation established in Chinese 5. Students continue to develop skills that enable learners to handle interpersonal, interpretive and presentational functions. This course is designed for students who have prior experience in the language. Students focus on a year-long project called “环游世界 (Huán yóu shìjiè / around the world).” They complete real life tasks, such as speaking to a travel agent or hotel receptionist from China, as well as people from different occupations to complete different levels of language tasks.

French

French I

In this introductory course, students progressively develop speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills through a variety of activities purposefully designed to respond to diverse learning styles. The course presents thematic vocabulary, common verb tenses, basic grammar and idiomatic structures. Students practice daily conversational patterns dealing with personal preferences and contemporary life. The cultural material of the course focuses primarily on France, while introducing students to the diversity of the French-speaking world.

French II

French II builds upon the reading, writing and conversational skills gained in French I. Emphasis is placed on increased complexity of oral and written expression. Students often work on project-based learning to develop their oral communication, give oral presentations, and practice extemporaneous speaking, as well as write in paragraph form. Reflexive and object pronouns as well as past and future tenses are explored in depth. Literature is introduced in the form of poetry, including the work of Baudelaire. Among other cultural topics, students explore traditions in Francophone countries and music from around the diaspora.

French III

This intermediate course emphasizes themes of everyday life to reinforce and broaden students’ communication skills, expand vocabulary, teach grammar concepts and heighten cultural awareness. The curriculum reviews narration skills to describe past and future events, and introduces complex sentence structures with passé composé and imparfait. Students are increasingly able to demonstrate language acquisition in both formal and informal situations. Students read and discuss short stories and articles to explore contemporary life and Francophone cultures. They make comparisons and connections between the language, current events as seen through film and media, cultures studied, and their own. In the spring, students read and analyze several chapters of Le Petit Nicolas.

French IV

This advanced course delves into the many cultures of the Francophone world while building upon the students’ grammar foundation. The cultural element of this course focuses on historical perspective, social justice, and an introduction to journalism from around the diaspora. The curriculum expands upon the grammatical structures from French III and introduces the subjunctive and literary tenses. Students are frequently exposed to authentic audio and video material; they discuss and write about topics in depth to practice complex structures. In the spring, students read and analyze their first unabridged novel in French, Le Petit Prince.

À la Découverte de Soi

In this self-awareness course, conducted in French immersion through films, literature and philosophy, students are invited to question their assumptions and beliefs on a wide variety of themes ranging from personal identity, the coming of age, ethical values, gender roles, the existence of God, free will and choices, to the meaning of life. Students explore a variety of films and authors to examine and relate to these principal themes while reflecting in innovative ways on how to make choices, live one’s life and pursue happiness. Students develop skills in introspective reflection, analytical writing, and advanced language skills. In-depth class discussions, debates and Socratic seminars invite students’ full participation and commitment to a safe, mindful and supportive collaboration.


Ma voix: Francophonie, Immigration, Justice Sociale

This course gives students a platform for raising their own voices on local and global social justice issues such as global warming, racism, immigration, hunger, and education. To address these urgent issues in French, students have scaffolded exercises in public speaking and presentation along with a review of grammar and rhetorical structures that allow them to make a formal argument in the target language. The class progresses thematically and includes a variety of activities, including vocabulary, reading, vodcasts and videos of Francophone youth, field trips, guest speakers, and projects. Each theme is first explored in class and then put into practice outside of the classroom. Students also build a sense of engagement in their own community and empathy for other diverse communities through live communication.


Le Français des Affaires

Students pursue French in a professional context and acquire professional and practical skills such as correspondence, curriculum vitae, email, calls, agenda, etc. Upper level students learn how to go through an interview with the proper protocol and etiquette and build their own portfolio. They practice public speaking while delivering a speech, making a presentation, or bringing up convincing arguments in a meeting.

Students introduce themselves to a Francophone business in Seattle through the Consulate, French Alliance, or Chamber of Commerce, in order to shadow a business professional, and report their findings in a formal presentation at the end of the course. Prerequisite: French 4 plus an additional, upper-level French elective

Spanish Full Year Courses

Spanish I

This course introduces students to language learning in general, focusing on various verb structures and other grammar points and idiomatic structures while making natural comparisons to their own language. Spanish I students develop study skills and memorization techniques that will enable them to learn vocabulary and grammar points throughout their course of study. Students practice conversations related to making acquaintances, talking about personal preferences, getting around town, and family relations. They study vocabulary related to numbers, expressions of time, food, hobbies and sports. Students learn songs, write and perform short skits, play games, cook traditional dishes, complete a variety of cultural and linguistic projects, and celebrate holidays and customs of the Hispanic world.

Spanish II

Spanish II builds on the writing, speaking, listening, and reading skills established in Spanish I. This course focuses on the use of the preterit and imperfect tenses, as well as on object and reflexive pronouns. Students practice conversation skills by talking about such topics as travel, daily routines, professions, making plans for the future, comparing past and present events, and narrating past actions. The course provides a broad overview of the variety of cultures and linguistic differences across the Spanish-speaking world, with numerous short readings. In addition, the students work with a variety of media (stories, commercials, music videos, telenovelas, shorts, etc.) to help provide additional opportunities to hear native speakers use vocabulary and grammar in context and to infer meaning from context.

Spanish III

Spanish III is designed for students with at least two years of language experience at the Middle or Upper School level. Students entering this course have a strong foundation in the present tense and agreement of articles and adjectives, as well as familiarity with the past tenses. Spanish III focuses on the improvement of the four communicative skills — speaking, writing, reading, and listening — as well as developing skills in circumlocution and multiple ways of communicating an idea through the use of synonyms, antonyms, cognates and related terms. The students learn more advanced verb tenses, such as the conditional, future, and perfect tenses, and begin to study the subjunctive mood. Vocabulary and conversation revolve around the topics of personal relationships, education, childhood, and health. Cultural content includes an introduction to literature, featuring excerpts from prominent Latin American and Spanish authors, as well as to Spanish and Latin American history and current events through film and media.

Spanish IV

In this advanced course, students get equal exposure to cultural, communicative and linguistic topics. They view and discuss several films that highlight particular aspects of Hispanic society and history. Students work with authentic sources to conduct research about a variety of topics. Some examples include news articles, poems, and short stories. The grammar portion of the course focuses on pronouns, mood, and tense sequencing, as well as a review of selected topics from previous years. There is a strong emphasis on improving communicative skills through daily conversations, teacher-student and student-student interactions as well as oral presentations in the target language.

Justicia Social en el Mundo Hispano

The course explores the topic of social justice throughout the Spanish-speaking world, alternating between units that highlight themes of Spanish, Latin American, and Latino history and current social realities through art and literature, and units with a focus on individual and group struggles for social justice. This advanced course continues to challenge students to communicate with more accuracy, at a more refined level, in a wider variety of contexts, and with a greater lexical repertoire. Students work with a variety of primary sources (letters, newspaper articles, testimonies) and view and analyze a variety of films in order to discuss and interpret different historical contexts and realities. In the second semester, students also work on descriptive, narrative and expository writing styles.

Introducción al Análisis de Literatura y Cine del Mundo Hispano

In this advanced Spanish course on literature and film, students are critical readers and writers as well as active viewers. They write cross-cultural comparisons of literary texts and film and compare these with their own experiences; use the works to determine how people identify with specific locations, language, and culture; discuss and interpret the historical context in which the work is set; write and apply literary analysis to a variety of genres within the context of Spanish and Latin American literary traditions; and develop, communicate, and defend a thesis with evidence based on literary texts and film.

Spanish Semester + Intensive Courses

Latinx en Los Estados Unidos

Second semester + second intensive

This course may satisfy the Senior LaunchPad requirement

During the semester students, study a variety of themes: Latinx leadership in our community and in the country, DACA activism, art, music and food. Students write to different audiences, debate political issues, and learn about immigration and the way cultures adapt and change.

The Intensive puts emphasis on conversational skills through real-world application. Students visit different sites and volunteer at senior programs, schools, community organizations and businesses. Students learn about the local and current history of the Latinx communities in Seattle and in Washington State.

Temas de Justicia Social en Colombia

First semester + first intensive
This course is pending approval as a Global Link program.