The goal of all language classes is to help students acquire an understanding and appreciation of languages, literature and cultures. We believe that the study of any culture and its language informs the study of other cultures and languages. Knowing how to learn another language is not only a valuable tool for navigating an international economy, but also enables greater understanding and respect for others.
In modern language classes, we aim for proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, writing and cultural awareness through the use of authentic materials in the classroom. Classes are taught in the target language from the beginning in a cooperative learning atmosphere that encourages risk-taking and strives to achieve excellence with regard to the national goals (Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century) in the five “C” areas: Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons and Communities.
In the classical language classes, the focus is exclusively on literature and culture. Students learn to read and translate Latin and Ancient Greek, while learning about the ancient western world. The study of Latin and Greek vocabulary and grammar strengthens other language learning skills, including English.
Chinese I is a blended class. Students use both online techniques for communication and exploration of content as well as regularly scheduled meetings to achieve the goals of the class. Mandarin Chinese I is designed for students with no or little experience in Chinese language. The class engages students with songs, videos and cultural projects and provides a level of comfort in speaking, reading, writing and listening to basic Chinese. Students are informally assessed on these proficiencies daily. A variety of assessments, including tests and quizzes, allow students to actively use and refine all four skills. As they study self-introduction, family, sports, food and Chinese culture, students have the opportunity to engage in dialogues, presentations, video performances and other creative activities.
*NOTE: this course will only run with sufficient enrollment.
In Chinese II, students continue to develop the four communicative skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing) based on the foundation they acquired in Chinese I. Students use their textbook and workbook to preview vocabulary and grammar; read and watch historical TV shows about China to acquire greater context; study birthdays, daily routines, food and interacting with others in a variety of settings and work collaboratively to master class material. A variety of assessments--including tests, quizzes, discussions, role-plays, mock interviews and skits--allow students to actively use and refine all four skills. Through hands-on work, they gain confidence in their speaking and listening abilities, while reading current articles in Chinese helps to improve their reading and writing skills.
Prerequisite: Chinese I
In Chinese III, students continue to develop the four communicative skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing) based on the foundation they acquired in Chinese I and II. Students use films to develop their listening skills, then write about them to further enhance their vocabulary and to identify and solidify the grammar they have already learned. They also study poems, short stories and idioms to develop their skills and to learn more about leisure, travel and health. A variety of assessments allow students to actively use and refine all four skills. Students gain confidence in their speaking and listening abilities through role-play and presentations.
Prerequisite: Chinese II
Chinese IV/Honors Chinese IV
Having successfully completed the fundamentals in their earlier Chinese classes, students work to acquire the grammar, vocabulary and knowledge necessary to comprehend and communicate with fluency about materials relating to leadership, immigration and issues that are part of school life. Students in Chinese IV take on the challenge of beginning to listen, speak, read, write and reflect on cultural comparisons at the college level. Students move beyond the concrete and begin to analyze, compare and express their ideas in dynamic class discussions as well as on written evaluations. A highlight of the course occurs as each student prepares and teaches a class. Frequent tests of audio and visual literacy ensure that girls are on pace with the expected progress required by advanced work in Chinese, and many assessments are based on the AP Chinese exam and the SAT Chinese subject test.
Prerequisite: Chinese III and recommendation of the department for the Honors course
One Schoolhouse AP Chinese Language and Culture/Chinese V
AP Chinese Language and Culture provides deeper understanding and broader application into Chinese language and culture for intermediate Chinese learners. This course focuses on applying Chinese language and cultural skills in real-world problem situations, and provides the opportunity to experience a variety of topics in Chinese history, geography, music and arts, literature, daily life, and national and global issues. Almost all of the course is taught in Chinese. This course applies a student-centered diagnostic learning approach. Authentic resources in both oral and written Chinese include recorded lectures, online discussion and debate, TV and video clips, Chinese newspaper articles, and instructions from Chinese products. Group work, one-to-one extra help, and a variety of engaging activities and experiential projects are employed in the course to meet the individual needs of students. In this multi-track course, students may select the AP or Chinese V track, depending on whether they plan to take the AP exam in May. AP students are expected to delve deeper into the topics, take AP-style assessments, and prepare for the AP exam. Chinese V is recommended for students who have completed four or more years of Chinese but do not want to prepare for the AP exam.
Prerequisite: Completion of Chinese IV and recommendation of the department
In this introductory course, students learn to develop a strong foundation in vocabulary and grammar. They are introduced to all four of the key skills for language acquisition: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Stress is placed on building vocabulary power and acquiring basic grammatical concepts so that students gradually gain confidence in expressing themselves effectively in French. Students also learn about the cultural diversity of the French-speaking world. Assessments include listening and speaking comprehension activities, exposure to audiovisual and online resource material, quizzes and tests.
*NOTE: this course will only run with sufficient enrollment.
This course is an expansion of French I. Strong emphasis is placed on reinforcing the four key skills of language acquisition: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students also continue to learn about the cultural and linguistic diversity of the French-speaking world through a variety of print documents and multimedia resources. By the end of the academic year, they can read and enjoy excerpts from literature and watch films with French subtitles. Students are also exposed to arts through song, poetry and “bande dessinée.” Assessments include listening comprehension exercises, interactive speaking activities, personal research, quizzes and tests.
Prerequisite: French I
In this intermediate course, students continue to develop the four key skills pertaining to language acquisition: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students interact in French, read and analyze print and online documents and engage in class discussions, essay writing and presentations. The study of grammar and syntax includes both review and the acquisition of more advanced aspects. Assessment includes quizzes, tests, personal projects and listening, speaking and reading comprehension exercises. Students also continue to learn about the cultural diversity of the Francophone world and read popular French books such as Le Petit Nicolas and Le Petit Prince.
Prerequisite: French II
Honors French III
This course addresses students who love linguistic challenges and who want intensive practice of all of their French skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing). The coursework includes an in-depth study of grammar and syntax. Students continue to be exposed to the cultural diversity of the Francophone world through a wide range of authentic cultural resources, both in print and online. They read and analyze popular French literary pieces (such as Le Petit Nicolas, Le Petit Prince, Fables by La Fontaine, etc.) and watch films exclusively with French subtitles and or without any subtitles; the course also makes significant use of French-speaking radio stations. Students are assessed on their ability to read, analyze, debate, experiment with various writing styles (in descriptive, creative and critical essays), engage in role-play and conduct personal research, as well as through quizzes and tests.
Prerequisite: French II and recommendation of the department
This course is designed for students who are curious about cultural issues in the Francophone world and who wish to continue studying French after the third level. Students examine art, history, politics, society and religion through a wide range of resources such as books, films, magazines (print and online) and appropriate multimedia resources. Students also work on reinforcing the four key skills for language acquisition (reading, speaking, listening and writing). Thus, stress is also placed on the study of grammar, syntax and pronunciation. Assessment consists of writing exercises (descriptive, critical and creative), quizzes and tests and personal research (a final project).
Prerequisite: French III
AP French Language and Culture
In AP French, students further develop their reading comprehension and analytical and critical thinking skills by studying a wide range of authentic print and Internet resource material. Students read, investigate, identify, compare and think in context while being exposed to a variety of contemporary issues in the French-speaking world. They sharpen their analytical skills by identifying, comparing, re-evaluating and investigating meaning in context. The coursework consists of the study of eight key themes and also includes a general grammar review. Assessment consists of frequent listening exercises, reading assignments, essays, critical discussions, presentations and personal research on any given topic, with all assessments helping students to prepare for the form and/or the content of the AP exam. Intensive daily exposure to authentic French speaking media (especially to French-speaking radio stations) beyond the classroom is essential for effective progress and success.
Prerequisite: Honors French III and recommendation of the department
This course, designed in collaboration with Kenyon College for college credit, focuses on the study of French literature of the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries. Unabridged works of the main genres (poetry, novel, drama and short stories) are studied so as to develop an understanding of Francophone literature and to teach the principles of literary criticism. Emphasis is placed on literary analysis, thereby giving students the necessary tools to pursue their studies in French. Each semester, students independently read a literary work of their choice and write a comprehensive report.
Prerequisite: AP French, departmental recommendation and acceptance of the student’s KAP application by the US Office and Kenyon College
We are excited to be in the second year of a five-year pilot program for teaching Hebrew at Laurel School. We are currently using the internationally recognized Neta-CET “Bishvil Ha-Ivrit” curriculum, which offers a full curriculum and texts. The Hebrew teacher at Laurel uses the guidelines of this curriculum to place students in their appropriate level of learning the language. We will always offer a Level One of the language in order to build the program. We will offer additional levels according to students’ placement needs.
Neta describes its "Bishvil Ha-Ivrit" curriculum as “a cutting edge Hebrew language program, bringing Hebrew alive with print and digital media and face-to-face and virtual training for Hebrew teachers.
The program cultivates all aspects of Hebrew language learning - grammar and content, conversations and literature, poetry and factual information, drills and exercises and topics for lively discussion, songs and moral dilemmas, writing assignments and independent reading, current events and Biblical texts.
The program offers materials for all Hebrew levels, from beginners to advanced. The materials introduce students to Hebrew of all historical periods: biblical, rabbinic, medieval, enlightenment and modern.
Technology enhances and supports learning with audio recordings, interactive technology, documentary films, and more. As students speak, read, write, and listen to spoken Hebrew, they encounter new viewpoints on daily life in Israel, Jewish tradition and history, and general world knowledge.
The "Bishvil Ha-Ivrit" curriculum and materials encourage an ongoing and dynamic interaction between content, linguistics, and skill development. They offer a wide variety of genres - prose and poetry, conversations, interviews, articles, notes, questionnaires and more; opportunities to master the 4 communicative skills -reading, writing, listening and speaking; and a sequential progression of grammar and linguistics.
Active linguistic ability is built gradually along a sequential progression of increasing length and complexity of texts, richer vocabulary and greater syntactic complexity.”
We will offer the following levels of Hebrew for the 2018-19 school year; placement depends in part on students’ work on a Neta-created assessment that students take in late August or early September.
Beginners or “Mechina:” preparation studies for Hebrew that covers basic writing and reading as well as basic vocabulary.
Intermediate level that takes students through "Bishvil Ha-Ivrit" Book One.
Intermediate level that takes students through "Bishvil Ha-Ivrit" Book Two.
Advanced level that takes students through "Bishvil Ha-Ivrit" Books Three and beyond.
The primary goal of this course is to build a foundation of skills that will eventually enable students to read authentic Latin texts and at the same time examine the social and political history of the Romans and their influence on the Western world. Vocabulary and English derivatives are stressed, as well as word prefixes and suffixes, all of which are useful for standardized test takers. An important aspect of this course is its exploration through derivatives of the relationship between Latin and French, Italian, Spanish and, through French, English. Cultural components cover topics such as the life of the poet Horace, women, education, daily life, stories from the Iliad and the Aeneid, the influence of Greece on Rome, the Civil War and the end of the Republic. Forms of assessment include vocabulary and grammar quizzes, tests, homework and in-class performance.
*NOTE: this course will only run at Laurel School with sufficient enrollment. If sufficient enrollment is not met, students will be able to take the OSH Latin I course.
Students complete their study of Latin grammar and work to expand and strengthen skills in areas such as various uses of case, identification of clauses and translation. Vocabulary and derivatives continue to be stressed as well as the relationship between Latin and English grammar. Students explore historical and cultural topics spanning from the end of the Civil War to the beginning of the Augustan Age. After they finish their formal study of grammar, students begin to read edited excerpts of authentic Latin. A primary focus is Roman mythology and history, beginning with the founding of Rome and including synopses of the lives of such famous Romans as Cicero, Pompey the Great and Julius Caesar. Students learn to identify and analyze various figures of speech and rhetorical devices. Forms of assessment include vocabulary and grammar quizzes, tests, homework and in-class performance.
Prerequisite: Latin I
Latin Literature - Lyric Poetry
In this course, students read selections from the poetry of authors such as Catullus, Horace and Ovid. While strengthening their understanding of grammar and syntax, they engage daily in translation and discussion of the text. They also learn how to identify and analyze the effects of various literary devices and figures of speech. The historical period covered is the end of the Republic and beginning of the Augustan era. Assessment comprises quizzes, tests, homework and participation. Prerequisite: Latin II
Honors Latin Literature - Lyric Poetry
In this course, students read extensive selections from the poetry of Catullus, Horace and Ovid. They engage daily in translation and in-depth interpretation and discussion of the text. They also learn how to identify and analyze the effects of over forty literary devices and figures of speech, as well as how to scan several lyric meters and how to recognize various metrical devices. The historical period covered is the end of the Republic and beginning of the Augustan era. Assessments are comprised of review translation quizzes, essay tests, homework and participation.
Prerequisite: Latin II and departmental recommendation
Honors Classical Studies Seminar
This course for Seniors only focuses on Ancient Greece. As students are exposed to the language of the Ancient Greeks, they also closely read in English and have in-depth discussions on works such as Homer’s Iliad; Aeschylus’ Oresteia; plays by Euripides such as Medea, Hippolytus, Iphigenia at Aulis and Electra; and selections from Plato’s Socratic dialogues and Republic. Assessments include quizzes, both translation and essay tests, homework and participation. As a culminating project, students write a research paper using articles found in scholarly journals about a play by Euripides of their choice. This course is for seniors only.
Prerequisite: Honors Latin Literature and departmental recommendation
As students enter the Upper School at Laurel, they are introduced to our Center for Research on Girls' work in resilience through the lens of language study. Listening and speaking only in Spanish, they learn how to communicate with each other through class drills, collaborative dialogues and creative activities, including family presentations and video performances describing clothing and colors during a shopping trip to the mall or while packing a suitcase for a trip. The emphasis on growth mindset and the feeling of comfort and confidence as the students begin to express themselves orally and in writing gets them started on their journey towards proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, writing and making cultural comparisons. Students are assessed on these proficiencies often and are encouraged to collaborate and communicate whenever and wherever possible.
In Spanish II, students continue to develop the four communicative skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing) based on the foundation they acquired in Spanish I. Students watch videos to preview vocabulary and grammar, read short articles to learn interesting facts about Spanish-speaking countries and work collaboratively to master class material. A variety of assessments, besides tests and quizzes, allow students to actively use and refine all four skills. Through role-play and presentations they gain confidence in their speaking and listening abilities, and by identifying texts’ main ideas and summarizing them, students improve their reading and writing capabilities.
Prerequisite: Spanish I
In Spanish III, students continue to develop the four communicative skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing) based on the foundation they acquired in Spanish I and II. Students watch genuine videos by Latin American and Spanish film companies, and they read authentic short stories by Spanish or Latin American contemporary authors, such as the Ecuadorian Eugenia Viteri or Spanish Ginés Cutillas, to further enhance their vocabulary and to identify and solidify the grammar they have already learned. A variety of assessments, besides tests and quizzes, allow students to actively use and refine all four skills. Through role-play and presentations they gain confidence in their speaking and listening abilities, while identifying texts’ main ideas and by summarizing them, they improve their reading and writing capabilities.
Prerequisite: Spanish II
Honors Spanish III
Having successfully completed the fundamentals taught in Spanish I and II, the most motivated students are ready to accelerate their knowledge of the structures needed to communicate more fluently about selected materials relating to human rights issues, immigration and diversity, and additional contemporary global issues needed for the subsequent AP Spanish Language and Culture course. Students gain an initial understanding of the seven components of the AP exam, challenging their ability to listen, speak, read, write and reflect on cultural comparisons at the college level. Students will need to be able to move beyond the concrete and be able to analyze, compare and express their ideas orally in dynamic class discussions as well as on written evaluations. Their audio and visual literacy is tested often to make sure they completely understand the demands of advanced work in Spanish.
Prerequisite: Spanish II and departmental recommendation
Spanish Conversation and Composition
Being able to make connections and comparisons, as well as communicate one’s findings orally and in written form about themes surrounding immigration and exile, human rights, women, people marginalized by society and the role of Hispanic countries in globalization are skils gained through our Cinema for Spanish Conversation and Composition text. Students watch twelve authentic movies from Spain or Latin America, read current articles, short stories and directors' analyses based on the themes and form their own opinions and analyses. Listening and watching the movies improves the students' aural and visual literacy and provides them with invaluable history and culture to share in our class discussions and on their written compositions and evaluations. Hearing dialogue as it is presented naturally in context gives the students a certain level of comfort to share their own ideas and opinions with their classmates without the fear of making mistakes.
Prerequisite: Spanish III
Latin American Literature and Culture
This course is designed to develop students’ knowledge of the Spanish-speaking world through reading, analysis and discussion. Students read a variety of short stories, through which they learn about socio-economic issues in Latin America. In addition, students have the chance to share their thoughts and respond to and analyze issues through essays and written responses.
Prerequisite: either Conversation and Composition or AP Spanish Language and departmental recommendation.
AP Spanish Language and Culture
Integrating authentic online and traditional print, audio and audiovisual resources and graphs, AP Spanish Language students explore the required themes of global challenges, science and technology, personal and public identities, families and communities, contemporary life, and beauty and esthetics. Students use rich, advanced vocabulary and linguistic structures to demonstrate proficiency in speaking, writing and interpretive communication. They make connections with interdisciplinary topics, compare their investigations, and share their passion for contemporary world issues (e.g. the challenges surrounding the world’s water supply, the reaction to Picasso’s Guernica and the Spanish Civil War) in lively class discussion, often demonstrating their audio and visual literacy after watching videos or films. They are assessed on their ability to analyze and reflect upon these themes and demonstrate their ability to listen, speak, read and write at a college level for the AP Spanish Language and Culture exam in May.
Prerequisite: Honors Spanish III or Conversation and Composition and departmental recommendation
AP Spanish Literature and Culture
In AP Spanish Literature and Culture students use all four communicative skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing) to analyze, criticize and compare literary texts and works of art by Spanish and Latin American authors. Contrasting and comparing Lazarillo de Tormes with paintings of pícaros by Murillo, for example, students gain a better understanding of a relevant character in the Peninsular literary world, and by analyzing “Gólgota, dos abuelos” by Cuban painter Agustín Calviño, they are able to visualize the message of Nicolás Guillén’s poem “Balada de los dos abuelos.” Students also learn about the authors by watching interviews, and they work collaboratively to identify themes, the author’s message, structure and purpose of each text. Assessments such as class participation, essays and quizzes measure students’ depth of understanding, their knowledge of cultural movements and rhetorical figures, and their analytical capabilities, all in preparation for the AP Spanish Literature and Culture exam.
Prerequisite: AP Spanish Language and recommendation of the department