Upper School
US Curriculum

Modern Languages

Students in our Upper School Spanish, French, and Chinese language programs take on the intricacies and challenges of complicated grammar and linguistic structures through reading, writing, speaking, and listening, while also gaining appreciation, awareness, and connection with other cultures and sensibilities.
Students in the modern language program graduate not only with an in-depth knowledge of the language[s] they’ve studied but also with the insights they acquire into the culture, history, and literature through the language[s] they have studied in their high school career.

Chinese Courses

List of 7 items.

  • Chinese I

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/ 3 credits

    In this beginning Chinese course, students will learn pronunciation patterns, tones, and basic grammatical forms, including all elements of language instruction: listening, speaking, reading, writing, culture, and history at a pace appropriate to an upper school course. Students will learn to read and write pinyin (phonetic representation of Chinese sounds) with correct tones, including techniques to input characters for electronic transmission. The students will study Chinese character reproduction, including an introduction to Chinese radicals and measure words. The course approach will be thematic and new materials will be incorporated by means of conversations, short articles, cartoons, stories, and presentations. A textbook, workbook, and character workbook will form the central core of the course, supplemented by other audio-visual and web-based resources.
  • Chinese II

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/ 3 credits

    In Chinese II, students will continue to work on Chinese conversation forms, augmented by new vocabulary, additional simplified characters, and grammatical expressions. Students will expand their basic communication skills and will read and write short passages on familiar and personal topics. Chinese history and culture will continue to be introduced to help students develop a broader understanding and appreciation for their study of the language.
  • Chinese III

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/ 3 credits

    The Chinese III course gives students the opportunity to continue to expand their oral and written knowledge of Chinese so that they are able to discuss daily life topics with ease and confidence, read short stories, and write about a variety of topics in more detail. Students will build upon their conversational and grammatical forms with more complex vocabulary and approximately 250 additional simplified Chinese characters. Chinese history and culture will continue to be included in the course materials to help students develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of the language.
  • Chinese IV

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits

    The Chinese IV course builds on Chinese III and will give students the opportunity to continue to grow their oral and written knowledge of Chinese at an accelerated pace so that they are able to handle a variety of more complicated communicative tasks with ease and confidence. The class will read short stories and write about a variety of situational topics in more detail and complexity. Students will continue to build their conversational grammatical forms with the introduction of new patterns, grammatical expressions, including Chinese adages, and approximately 200 more Chinese simplified characters. Chinese history and culture, as in the previous levels, will continue to be introduced to help students better understand the language and culture of China.

    • Howard and Xu, Huanying: An Invitation to Chinese, Volume 2, Textbook
    • Howard and Xu, Huanying: An Invitation to Chinese, Volume 2, Part 1 Workbook and Part 2 Workbook
  • Chinese V

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits

    The Chinese V course prepares students to continue their study of the Chinese language at an advanced level in college. It will help students to solidify their knowledge of spoken and written Chinese and bring their linguistic abilities to a level appropriate for their age group. Students will continue to build upon their conversational and grammatical forms, vocabulary, and retention of Chinese characters. Varied aspects of Chinese culture and history will be used as topics for reading and class discussion. The class will be conducted primarily in Chinese. Writing assignments involving both writing and typing in Chinese will be given throughout the course.
  • AP Chinese Language and Culture

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/ 3 credits

    Prerequisite: Chinese IV and recommendation of current Chinese teacher

    This course conforms to the standards and expectations as described in the College Board curriculum for AP Chinese Language and Culture and moves at a fast pace. Students prepare authentic testing materials as prescribed for the AP Examination in Chinese Language and Culture, and use media to record original responses and presentations. All students must take the AP Chinese exam in May.
  • Advanced Topics in Chinese Language, Literature and Culture

    3 days in a seven-day cycle
    2 Credits

    This year-long course is open to students who have completed the AP Chinese course or Chinese heritage students who may have strong listening and speaking skills but more limited Chinese reading and writing skills. The purpose of instruction is to utilize previous language background to lay a solid foundation for further studying Chinese language, literature, and culture. This course is taught exclusively in Chinese and focuses on expanding our vocabulary and reading skills through book reading and video and film watching. It provides students with ample opportunities to develop proficiency in all communicative modes via maximum exposure to authentic culture and language. Written assignments, oral discussions, presentations, and projects are frequent and are important components.

French Courses

List of 7 items.

  • French I

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits

    French I includes all elements of language instruction: listening, speaking, reading, writing, culture, and civilization.

    The course stresses oral communication and pronunciation. Grammar will be presented in a variety of ways, and short compositions, mainly dialogues, will be assigned. Individual projects and role-playing will further involve the students. The class will advance at a fairly brisk pace so that by the end of the year, students will have a very practical sense of the language and will be able to carry on simple conversations useful for traveling and living in French-speaking countries.
  • French II

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits

    This course is open to students who have completed French I either in one year in the Upper School or in three years in the Middle School program. The course is highly interactive and affords students endless opportunities to develop their speaking and listening comprehension skills. Reading and writing are practiced regularly, and through use of video the students are exposed to French culture daily. At the end of French II students speak fluidly and with a very practical vocabulary and should be able to make their way in a great number of everyday situations in France and francophone countries.
  • French III

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits

    Initially this course focuses on oral work, based on everyday conversation and usage. Correct pronunciation will be stressed and practiced. Students review basic grammar and expand on it to include greater complexity. As new grammatical material is encountered, more complex texts are added for reading comprehension. Stories featuring le petit Nicolas provide idiomatic expressions and a touch of humor. Several major projects entail research, writing and/or oral presentation.

    Readings in French history and culture are incorporated, with additional stress on vocabulary. By the end of the year, students will have completed their study of fundamental grammar and will have had substantially more practice in reading and composition. Films and videos reinforce historical material as well as provoking discussion.
  • French IV

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits

    This class, designed for students who wish to continue their study of French without necessarily matriculating towards the AP examination, is topic-based. Topics covered include Health and Fitness, Education, Relationships, Holidays and Travel, Environment. The approach is multi-skill, with an emphasis on the oral use of the language and comprehension skills, both aural and reading. Written work tends to be discursive and/or imaginative by nature, giving students the chance to formulate and express their own opinions and reactions and to practice different writing styles. There is also a film component, which begins with a review of the development of French cinema and continues throughout with a number of French films, chosen for their quality and/or their relevance to topics being studied. Some time is also spent each week on grammar review.
  • AP French Language and Culture

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits

    Prerequisite: Completion of French III or IV with a grade of "B+" or above, as well as the recommendation of a current French teacher. Students take the AP French Language and Culture exam in May.

    The latest version of the AP French Language and Culture program includes language study at a high level, based around the exploration of certain prescribed themes.

    Students will encounter many different kinds of French – everyday, literary, journalistic, and technical – and will develop and practice all four linguistic skills – listening, reading, speaking, and writing – via authentic activities and materials. The language’s grammar and essential structures will be studied and applied in a variety of realistic situations and for a variety of purposes – simple reporting or résumé, personal response, re-formulation, persuasive speaking or writing, for example. The acquisition of strong comprehension skills and effective communication strategies are prime goals of the course.

    Alongside its linguistic goals, the course will engage students in an exploration of French and Francophone culture in both contemporary and historical contexts and develop their awareness and appreciation of its manifestation via the tangible (e.g. books, music) and the intangible (e.g. laws, institutions), via practices (e.g. social interactions within a culture) and perspectives (e.g. values, attitudes). Prescribed themes include Global Challenges, Beauty and Aesthetics, Contemporary Life, Science and Technology. Materials will be drawn from a wide variety of media.
  • French V

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits
    Prerequisite: French IV or AP French Language, as well as recommendation of current French teacher

    The French V course prepares students to continue their studies of the French language at an advanced level in college and is an appropriate successor to either AP French Language or French IV. The goal of this class is to give students an opportunity to use the French they have already learned and take their language skills to the next level in both accuracy and complexity. To that end, the class will revolve around discussions and debates prompted by reading French newspaper articles, watching French movies, and studying French culture in general. The topics covered will also provide a focus for reading, listening and oral work. Modern French literature will be read. Class will be conducted entirely in French to give the students ample opportunity to practice, and students will be evaluated on their ability and willingness to express themselves on all topics covered.
  • Post-AP Advanced French Literature

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/ 3 credits

    Prerequisite: AP French Language. (Occasionally, rising seniors who are strong French IV students may be permitted in this course upon the recommendation of their current teacher.)

    This course provides an opportunity for students to use and develop their knowledge of France and its culture, as well as their French language skills, through an encounter with a carefully selected group of literary texts, supplemented from time to time by video material and film. If you like to read, and to think and talk about what you read, then this is the course for you. As the course evolves students will acquire the critical vocabulary needed to discuss and to write about what they read and see.

    The course will include an overview of French literature from the 17th century to the present day, plus a more thorough treatment of the two topics outlined below.

    Does the essential meaning of heroism remain forever the same, or does it evolve in response to changing times? What is an anti-hero?

    La Francophonie/La Négritude/ littérature post-coloniale
    How are the effects of French colonialism reflected in the literature of former colonies? Francophone works from West Africa and the Caribbean.

Spanish Courses

List of 9 items.

  • Spanish I

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits

    At the end of the first year, students will have mastered a vocabulary of about 2,000 words. They will be able to communicate ideas, in both oral and in written form, about such topics such as the weather, school, family, dining, sports, hobbies and travel. Through readings and listening exercises, students will develop their passive communication skills. The cultural diversity of the Spanish speaking world is thoroughly explored in the course. Video and interactive computer programs are used to reinforce grammar, vocabulary and all four linguistic skills.
  • Spanish II

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits

    This course is open to students who have completed a Spanish I course and covers a fairly extensive amount of grammatical concepts. As in Spanish I, students will be able to communicate their ideas in both oral and written forms, with significant emphasis on the narrative tenses, the imperative mood and the future and conditional tenses. They are exposed on a regular basis to the history and cultural components of the various Spanish- speaking countries through readings and use of video and audio material.

    The course is highly interactive and promotes endless opportunities for students to develop their speaking and listening comprehension skills. At the end of Spanish II students will speak with greater fluency and demonstrate an overall strong command of several key topics of grammar.

    Students who maintain a high level of performance throughout the year and show a propensity to master the concepts with relative ease are eligible for Accelerated Spanish III, with the recommendation of the current teacher.
  • Spanish III

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits

    As in previous years, reading, conversation and composition continue to be stressed. Students build their themed vocabulary through three types of readings (historical, literary and journalistic) while broadening their cultural knowledge of the Spanish speaking world. A great deal of new vocabulary is encountered. In addition, grammar is reviewed, and several new structures (perfect tenses, continued study of the subjunctive mood) are introduced during the second and third trimesters. The texts are supplemented by video and audio material and outside readings.
  • Accelerated Spanish III

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits
    Prerequisite: “A-” in Spanish II and recommendation of current Spanish teacher

    In addition to the above-mentioned for Spanish III, the Accelerated Spanish III course will include more advanced cultural and historical readings as well as a greater emphasis on speaking and writing.
  • Spanish IV

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits

    This class is for students who have completed their third year of Spanish and intend to put their background in the language to practical use. Students are challenged to develop their own ideas and skills as global citizens as they master linguistic principles. Daily conversations, pair activities, readings, journal entries and research projects focus on current themes pertaining to the Spanish-speaking world such as sustainability in nature, culture and economics. The goal is for students to develop fluency and ease in aural and written Spanish. Additionally, students build awareness of common pitfalls for English speakers and master the structure of the Spanish sentence so that they are ready to progress into advanced high school or college coursework.
  • Advanced Communication in Spanish

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits

    Prerequisite: Spanish IV and recommendation of current Spanish teacher, or AP Spanish.

    Students continue their studies of Spanish at an advanced level with special attention given to developing active communication skills. This course is appropriate for students who have completed Spanish IV or AP Spanish. The primary objective of this course is the development of the student's communicative skills by focusing on the practical applications and functions of advanced grammatical structures. After years of theoretical study, students will have the opportunity to use their Spanish to respond to the distinct, ever-evolving and authentic needs of the Spanish-speaking community in Westchester County through Service-Learning project(s).

    This is a conversation-based course where in-class engagement and active participation are heavily weighted.

    Further cultural and linguistic competency is fostered by a series of projects and thematic units. In this course, students will speak more fluently and with greater confidence about varied themes via extensive vocabulary expansion and fluency practice; acquire linguistic independence through better understanding of tense-sequencing and functional language; understand and communicate effectively with native speakers despite rapid speech patterns or strong accents; and participate in a long-term service-learning project exclusively in Spanish.
  • AP Spanish Language and Culture

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits

    Prerequisite: Accelerated Spanish III (with an “A-” or above) or Spanish IV, and recommendation of current Spanish teacher. All AP Students take the AP Exam in May.

    The AP Language course will be conducted in Spanish with very few exceptions. Students will be encouraged to practice the target language consistently and express themselves in a variety of styles, using strategies for different audiences (informal vs. formal). The vocabulary will be cyclical, presented in thematic units, and there will be vocabulary quizzes.

    Throughout the year, students will be expected to give two minute presentations in preparation for the verbal component of the AP exam. Additionally, students will spend time in the computer lab where they will practice the strategies for both informal speaking and formal oral presentation.

    Students will do a variety of listening comprehension exercises that include short dialogues and narratives as well as selections from the BBC and CNN in Spanish. Films are used in order to enhance cultural knowledge, for exposure to varied types of pronunciations and to spark discussion of topics such as history, politics and family life.

    This course also requires reading of short stories by Hispanic authors leading to subsequent class discussion and related writing assignments. Through frequent writing assignments, students will be exposed to different strategies in preparation for the informal and formal writing components of the exam.
  • Post-AP Spanish: Literature & Film

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits

    Prerequisite: AP Spanish Language & Culture

    Advanced heritage speakers may request departmental permission in lieu of prerequisite.

    In this seminar-style course, we will explore seminal literary movements through individual works of literature and film of the Spanish-speaking world. Each literary movement will be accompanied by historical, artistic and cultural units that frame the literary movement in its full context and incorporate film adaptations of some of the major texts. The course will prepare students for college-level writing and discussions of novels, short stories, poetic verse, dramatic texts and film.

    Units of study will include the poetry of the Generation of ’98 lamenting the end of the Spanish empire, the vibrant poetry of Modernism in the early 1920s, the world of Magic Realism in the 1960s, Afro-Cuban identity literature and the influence of American writers in the Literature of the Spanish-speaking world. The course will enable students to develop the critical tools to view and analyze literary film adaptations in order to evaluate the creative liberties that directors take when transforming works of literature into works of cinematic art.
  • Post-AP Spanish: Language & Culture

    6 meetings per seven-day cycle/3 credits

    Prerequisite: AP Spanish Language & Culture

    This course seeks to develop further our most advanced Spanish students' ability to communicate comfortably, fluently and accurately. Through a series of thematic units of varying lengths, students will expand their knowledge of functional language and lexical groups, improve precision in written and spoken language, explore contemporary aspects of the Spanish-speaking culture and experience the practical application of Spanish through an extensive, long-term Service-Learning project in Westchester County. Our most advanced Spanish language students are given the opportunity to use the language to connect with and learn from our Spanish-speaking community while engaging in meaningful service. This conversation-based course requires a high-level of class engagement and active participation. The course will include such units as:
    • Effective cross-cultural communication
    • Historical survey of the music of the Spanish-speaking Caribbean
    • Latin-American immigrant experience(s) in the United States
    • Contemporary issues of the Spanish-speaking world
    • Los Romani - origins, myths and cultural legacy in Spain