Modern & Classical Languages


We believe language study allows us to go beyond ourselves to experience the new and different, and to courageously confront and surpass personal limitations. Learning a new language nurtures adaptability and openness. Through the medium of language, students come to know and appreciate the richness of other cultures in our increasingly interdependent world. By encouraging the free exchange of ideas, the development of articulate expression, and the incorporation of both contemporary and time-tested thinking in other languages, we help equip our students to learn from the past, to participate in the complex world of today, and to shape the future. Our exchange programs offer immersion experiences each year in Spanish, French and Chinese.

We teach foreign languages in order to bring to our students the intellectual, personal, and cultural benefits of learning new means of communication. Students, in learning a language, come to understand the structure underlying all language, including their own. Language study increases mental agility and leads to growth in one's powers of reasoning, memory, and creative thinking.

Chinese

  • Chinese I: This course begins with an introduction and an overview of both the phonetic and writing system of Mandarin Chinese. After extensive drill of the phonetic system, listening and speaking skills are cultivated through the acquisition of vocabulary, memorization of dialogues of natural speech and extensive drill of pattern structures. Learning to read the traditional form of characters and to write simplified forms of characters is the second phase after an oral foundation has been established. Appreciation of Chinese culture is cultivated through readings and appropriate activities.
  • Chinese II: A continuation of Chinese I, Chinese II is designed to increase vocabulary and strengthen grammar. The course will focus more on integration of oral and written skills. The class is principally conducted in the Chinese language and students are required to use Chinese as much as possible. Additional aspects of Chinese culture will be introduced through readings, film, and speakers.
  • Chinese III: Chinese III continues to sharpen students' oral and writing skills by increasing the volume of vocabulary, mastering more complex sentence patterns and writing compositions. Chinese culture will be further explored through reading pieces in various genres, making oral presentations, learning songs and watching/discussing films.
  • Conversational Chinese IV: This course is designed for students who have already finished level three Chinese and would like to continue to sharpen their oral Chinese skills. We will watch videos and films and discuss them. Another focus will be understanding and appreciating cultural customs, attitudes and practices, especially in daily life situations. Students will learn the skills to communicate with others in a spontaneous manner, to prepare, and to deliver casual or formal spoken Chinese. Grammatical patterns will be introduced in the course as well. Prerequisite: Completion of Chinese III and recommendation of the Department.
  • AP Chinese Language: The AP Chinese Language course is designed to help fine-tune and improve students' reading, writing, listening and speaking skills in Chinese in preparation for the exam taken in May. AP Chinese Language is an advanced course and the work done in this class is reflective of that which is done in an intermediate college course. We will review grammar as needed, acquire a wide range of new vocabulary and idiomatic expressions and read selections of prose and poetry written by Chinese authors. We will also read newspaper and magazine articles and listen to radio broadcasts in Chinese to keep abreast of what is happening in the Chinese-speaking communities in the U.S. and internationally. Prerequisite: Completion of Chinese IV and recommendation of the Department. The AP exam is a requirement of the course.

French

  • French I: French I is an introductory course for all students beginning their study of French. Through the acquisition and practice of the four language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing, the course aims to develop functional proficiency- the language skills necessary to handle communication tasks and social situations in a culturally correct manner. Students work on acquiring a wide range of vocabulary, and on mastery of verbs, both regular and irregular, in the present tense. The compound past tense is introduced in the second semester. Students are introduced to and work on appreciating and reproducing both formal and informal levels of language. A new textbook and materials include a very developed Internet component which allows students unlimited listening, speaking and vocabulary practice on their own from any Internet-connected computer.
  • French II: French II continues the work of French I using the second half of the textbook begun in Nichols' French I course. The coursework again centers around the four language skills. Vocabulary development expands and students thoroughly review the present and compound past tenses. The remaining indicative tenses, both simple and compound, are presented, and the study of grammar structures intensifies with an emphasis on reflexive verbs and pronouns. Class activities emphasize speaking and listening activities.
  • Advanced French II: The Advanced French sequence comprises Freshman and Sophomore-level courses emphasizing grammar study and vocabulary building. Students who successfully complete Nichols' Advanced French sequence generally go on to the Advanced Placement course and exam in French language during Junior year. Students in Advanced French 2 review and work on present and past tenses, reflexive verbs and pronouns, among other grammar topics. Cultural topics and short-subject films provide a theme for each chapter's extensive vocabulary. Students are introduced to expository writing in Advanced French II. Prerequisite: Recommendation of the Department
  • French III: French III continues the sequence of instruction begun in Levels I and II. The Level I and II grammar work is reviewed in advanced form as part of each chapter's work. Vocabulary-building continues with review and expansion of vocabulary topics from French I and II and with the addition of new topics. Students learn to use the subjunctive and conditional modes and to express actions in the future tense. Readings are literary, historical and cultural at this level. Level III, regular or advanced, is the final required course in French. Students successfully completing French III may elect to continue in French IV.
  • Advanced French III: Students in Advanced French III continue the grammar and vocabulary work begun in Advanced French II. Verb tense review and practice is constant. Students learn the remaining indicative tenses and the two subjunctive tenses. Other grammar topics include review of all pronouns, adjective, adverbs, prepositions and the passive voice. Writing assignments are lengthier than those in Advanced French II leading up to working on essay-writing. Level III, regular or advanced, is the final required course in French, although students in the Advanced section generally elect to continue in the Advanced Placement course as Juniors. Prerequisite: Recommendation of the Department.
  • French IV/V: This course will be divided into 4 quarter-long electives that deal with a variety of historical and contemporary elements of francophone study. The individual courses will focus on the continued development of the four major communicative skills while offering the students a unique opportunity to study one particular topic in depth. The quarters will be taught interchangeably by each French instructor granting students the possibility to experience different teaching and specializations. Students who have completed French III or French IV are eligible to take this course. Prerequisite: Completion of French III and recommendation of the Department.
  • French IV AP: French Language: AP French concentrates on further developing the four language skills in order to prepare the students for the College Board Advanced Placement exam in French Language given in early May. The AP exam in French is divided into four equal parts, one part for each of the language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Classes are conducted predominately in the target language, the major exception being grammar study. Works of literature and other authentic documents make up the reading material. Internet resources are increasingly available both as reading and as listening-practice material. Essay-writing is also an ongoing part of the work in AP French. Speaking practice in class is required of all participants. Students in AP are strongly encouraged to participate in Nichols' French Exchange Program if they have not already done so. Prerequisite: Completion of Advanced French III and recommendation of the Department. The AP exam is a requirement of the course.
  • Advanced French V: This course will be divided into 4 quarter-long electives that deal with a variety of current events and global realities through a francophone lense. This course is designed for students who have completed the AP French course and are interested in perfecting their fluency in a fast-paced learning environment. The individual courses will focus on the continued development of the four major communicative skills while offering the students a unique opportunity to study their role as global citizens. The quarters will be taught interchangeably by each French instructor granting students the possibility to experience different teaching styles and specializations. Students who have completed French 4 AP or French 4 are eligible to take this course. Prerequisite: Completion of Advanced Placement French and recommendation of the Department.

Latin

  • Latin I: In this course students are introduced to basic elements of Latin grammar and begin to build a vocabulary in Latin through the reading of stories about Roman history and mythology. Students also learn to recognize the patterns of word deviation from Latin to English and the Romance languages. They investigate ancient Roman life and culture, and explore many facets of Greek mythology.
  • Latin II: Students continue to master fundamental Latin grammar, to broaden their vocabulary, and to further their understanding of the etymology of English words derived from Latin. We now begin to read selected stories from Latin literature and short poems in Latin. Ancient Roman life and culture, and Greek mythology, are also important topics in this course.
  • Latin III: This course completes the sequence of grammar lessons and continues the study of mythology, word etymology and derivation, and Roman culture and life. The development of a broad vocabulary and a strong facility in reading Latin is a significant goal of this course. Students now begin reading selections, in both prose and poetry, from various Roman writers on a wide range of perennially vital topics including love, leadership, and heroism.
  • Latin IV/V: This course offers advanced work in Latin literature, word derivation, and Greek mythology. Students will read selections from Latin authors, some in Latin and some in translation. There will be a systematic study of English etymology based on Greek and Latin, including legal, medical, and scientific terminology. Finally, we will explore the world of Greek mythology in depth, considering its historical, psychological, and literary aspects. Prerequisite: Completion of Latin III and recommendation of the Department.
  • AP Latin: Caesar and Vergil: AP Latin will prepare students for the AP Latin exam on Vergil's Aeneid and Caesar's Gallic War. The class will read a portion of the Aeneid and the Gallic War in Latin, and portions of both works in English translation. They will furthermore aim to develop a high level of skill in reading authentic Latin literary texts, in both prose and poetry, from a variety of genres and authors. They will also gain familiarity with the mythology of the Trojan War and the history of Rome through the reign of Augustus. The AP exam is a requirement of the course. Prerequisite: Successful completion of Latin III and recommendation of the Department.

Spanish

  • Spanish I: Spanish I provides an introduction to the four basic skills of language and communication: speaking, listening, writing and reading. Acquisition of cultural knowledge is also emphasized at this level. Students focus on subject-verb and noun-adjective agreement, the essential building blocks of all sentences. The present tense, gender and number agreement, an introduction to the preterit and basic vocabulary elements complete the course work.
  • Spanish II: Spanish II will continue to stress the development of the four basic language skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Emphasis will be placed on oral communication and interaction, and students will be expected to use the spoken language extensively in class. There will be structured reading assignments, as well as grammar-vocabulary activities and cultural awareness units. Students will learn and practice the present, past, future, and conditional tenses. They will also master the various command forms and will be introduced to the formation and use of the present subjunctive.
  • Advanced Spanish II: Advanced Spanish II is designed for students who possess strong linguistic skills and dedication to the study of languages. This course covers the same material as Spanish II at a faster pace, with greater attention to reading, and more frequent writing assignments. Students are selected for hte course by the department members, based on ability and commitment to the language. Prerequisite: Recommendation of the Department.
  • Spanish III: Spanish III will complete the introduction of advanced grammar points, and will require the students to communicate successfully in challenging conversational situations. The students will continue to refine their use of the spoken and written language through a multiplicity of drills, compositions, and oral-aural techniques. The course will be conducted primarily in Spanish. The students will read short stories and articles on historical and cultural information. Written work will gradually become more complex as students master the use of the present and the imperfect subjunctive.
  • Advanced Spanish III: This course is conducted almost entirely in Spanish. Students are expected to express themselves exclusively in Spanish both in oral and written work. It is designed for students with strong linguistic skills and dedication to the language. It is taught at a faster pace, with a more extensive reading list and more frequent writing assignments. This course introduces literature through short stories, poetry and drama by Spanish and Latin-American authors. The department selects the students for the advanced section based on ability and commitment to the language. Prerequisite: Recommendation of the Department.
  • Spanish IV: This course increases student proficiency in language skills, requires frequent class participation, readings in Spanish, writing, and the use of recorded material. Language usage is stressed, as well as a thorough review of grammar. The course is taught predominately in Spanish, and examines the history and society of Spain and other Hispanic countries. Prerequisite: Completion of Spanish III and recommendation of the Department.
  • Honors Spanish IV: This course is designed for students who have already completed Spanish III. It offers several activities in the target language that will help improve oral skills, such as debates, group projects and discussions. There will be film analysis as well as some reading of short stories. The students will also have the opportunity to review some advanced grammar concepts. Students will be graded on projects, participation, quizzes, essays, and oral presentations. The course will be taught entirely in Spanish. Prerequisite: Completion of Advanced Spanish III and recommendation of the Department.
  • AP Spanish Language: The Advanced Placement Spanish Language course is for students who have demonstrated proficiency in composition, conversation, and grammar. This course will concentrate on further developing the four communicative skills. Classes are conducted entirely in Spanish, and emphasize advanced work in grammar, progressive vocabulary building, reading, and advanced works of literature and other authentic documents. Intensive writing and extensive speaking stress both formal and informal types of situations. It prepares the students for the May AP examination, a requirement for this course. Prerequisite: Completion of Advanced Spanish III and recommendation of the Department.
  • Spanish V: One of the department's most advanced courses, it expects a high level of accomplishments from its students and requires them to confront material of substance and sophistication. Students aim at perfecting their reading, writing, and speaking skills, and review advanced grammar concepts. Students continue their study of the history and society of Hispanic countries that commenced in Spanish IV. This course is taught primarily in Spanish. Prerequisite: Completion of Spanish IV and recommendation of the Department.
  • Advanced Spanish V: This is an advanced senior course taught entirely in Spanish. The course will focus on the continued development of the four major communicative skills while offering the students a unique opportunity to discuss current events taking place in Spanish speaking countries, read a variety of works of literature (50% of the class), watch and debate films, as well as perform some famous theatrical pieces by Spanish speaking authors. Only seniors who have taken either Spanish 4 AP or Spanish 4 Honors will be allowed to take this course. They will also need a department recommendation. Prerequisite: Completion of Spanish 4 AP or Honors and recommendation of the Department.
  • Cultures of the Spanish-Speaking World: This course fosters language proficiency while teaching new vocabulary and grammar explicitly through the study of Spanish-speaking culture. New grammar concepts are communicated and existing grammar is strengthened topically as students study Spanish culture (family values, etiquette, religion, holidays, celebrations, media, and food) both in the United States and around the world. The course is taught primarily in Spanish. Students are expected to participate within the target language and will be assessed based on class discussions, homework assignments, quizzes, and projects. Prerequisite: Completion of Spanish III and the recommendation of the department.

Faculty

Frances Antoniadis

Titles: MS Latin

Dr. Laura Arribas-Tome

Titles: US Foreign Language

Kerry Bennett

Titles: III Form Dean

Benjamin Gerhardt

Titles: US Spanish

Thomas Michaud

Titles: US French

Mr. Ronald Montesano

Titles: US Spanish

Rebeca Redondo

Titles: MS Spanish

Bella Stack

Titles: US Spanish

Rong Yan

Titles: MS Chinese

Yajie Zhang

Titles: US/MS Mandarin Chinese Global Horizons