Browse Curriculum

Upper School Modern and Classical Languages

We teach modern and classical 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. Language study allows one to go beyond oneself to experience the new and different, and to courageously confront and surpass personal limitations. It 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. 
  • Advanced Chinese II


    For Grades 9-12

    A continuation of Chinese I, Chinese II is designed to increase vocabulary and strengthen grammar. The course focuses more on integration of oral and written skills. The class is principally conducted in Mandarin, and students are required to use Mandarin as much as possible. Additional aspects of Chinese culture are introduced through readings, film and speakers. 
  • Advanced Chinese III


    For Grades 10-12

    Advanced Chinese III stresses the development of the four basic language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. It focuses on grammar, building up vocabulary and mastering complex sentence structure and the improvement of writing skills. Students who successfully complete the Advanced Chinese III generally go on to the Advanced Placement course and exam in Mandarin during senior year. 
  • Advanced Chinese IV


    For Grades 11 and 12

    Advanced Chinese IV is designed for students who have already completed Advanced Chinese III. Students will read longer articles with a variety of historical and contemporary elements, write longer essays and have more opportunities to do research projects and oral presentations. Classes are conducted predominately in Mandarin.

    Many students who successfully complete the Advanced Chinese IV class will go on to the AP Chinese Language class.
  • Advanced French II


    For Grades 9-12

    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. Students in Advanced French II 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. 
  • Advanced French III


    For Grades 10-12

    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  
  • Advanced French V


    For Grades 11 and 12

    This course deals with a variety of current events and global realities through a francophone lens. 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 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.

    Students who have completed AP French Language or French IV are eligible to take this course. 

    Prerequisite: Completion of Advanced Placement French or French IV and recommendation of the department. 
  • Advanced Latin II


    For Grades 9-12

    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. 
  • Advanced Latin III


    For Grades 10-12

    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 the 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. 
  • Advanced Latin IV / V


    For Grades 11 and 12

    These courses offer advanced work in Latin prose literature. The primary focus will be on reading Julius Caesar’s commentaries and studying their historical context, but students will also read selections from other important prose authors, including Cicero, Sallust, and Livy, as well as various inscriptions and documents from the ancient world. Students will study the history, geography, art and daily life of ancient Rome. This course will prepare students for the AP Latin course. 

    Prerequisite: Completion of Latin III and recommendation of the department. 
  • Advanced Spanish II


    For Grades 9-12

    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. They also master the various command forms and are introduced to the formation and use of the present subjunctive. Students are selected for the course by the department members, based on ability and commitment to the language. 

    Prerequisite: Recommendation of the department.  
  • Advanced Spanish III


    For Grades 10-12

    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 22 advanced section based on ability and commitment to the language. 

    Prerequisite: Recommendation of the department. 
  • Advanced Spanish V


    For Grades 11 and 12

    This is an advanced senior course taught entirely in Spanish and structured around a selected topic each quarter. The course focuses on the continued development of the four communicative skills and on the understanding of Latin American and Spanish culture through various forms of representation. Therefore, in this course students read a variety of works of literature (about 60% of the course), watch and discuss films and other audiovisual material, as well as discuss cultural events published on media outlets. 

    Prerequisite: Completion of AP Spanish Language or Honors Spanish IV, and recommendation of the department 
  • AP Chinese Language


    For Grades 11 and 12

    The AP Chinese Language course is designed to help fine-tune and improve students' reading, writing, listening and speaking skills in Mandarin 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.

    Students review grammar as needed, acquire a wide range of new vocabulary and idiomatic expressions and read selections of prose and poetry written by Mandarin authors. We also read newspaper and magazine articles and listen to radio broadcasts in Mandarin to keep abreast of what is happening in the Mandarin-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.  
  • AP French Language


    For Grades 11 and 12

    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 predominantly 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 
    listeningpractice 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. 
  • AP Latin: Caesar and Vergil


    For Grades 11 and 12

    AP Latin prepares students for the AP Latin exam on Vergil's Aeneid and Caesar's Gallic War. The class reads a portion of the Aeneid and the Gallic War in Latin, and portions of both works in English translation. They 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 also gain familiarity with the mythology of the Trojan War and the history of Rome through the reign of Augustus. 

    Prerequisite: Successful completion of Latin III and recommendation of the department. The AP exam is a requirement of the course. 
  • AP Spanish Language


    For Grades 11 and 12

    The Advanced Placement Spanish Language course is for students who have demonstrated proficiency in composition, conversation, and grammar. This course concentrates on further developing the four communicative skills. Classes are conducted entirely in Spanish, and emphasize advanced work in grammar, progressive vocabulary building, reading advanced works of literature and other authentic documents. Intensive writing and extensive speaking stress both formal and informal types of situations. 

    Prerequisite: Completion of Advanced Spanish III and recommendation of the department. This class prepares the students for the May AP examination, a requirement for this course. 
  • Chinese I


    For Grades 9-12 - Meets with Middle School Chinese 8

    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


    For Grades 9-12

    A continuation of Chinese I, Chinese II is designed to increase vocabulary and strengthen grammar. The course focuses more on integration of oral and written skills. The class is principally conducted in Mandarin, and students are required to use Mandarin as much as possible. Additional aspects of Chinese culture are introduced through readings, film and speakers. 
  • Chinese III


    For Grades 10-12

    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 is further explored through reading pieces in various genres, making oral presentations, learning songs and watching/discussing films. 
  • Chinese IV


    For Grades 11 and 12

    Chinese IV is designed for students who have already completed Chinese III. It focuses on the continued development of the four major communicative skills. Students read articles that deal with a variety of historical and contemporary elements. Classes are conducted predominantly in the target language. Students have more opportunities to do oral presentations. 
  • Chinese V


    For Grades 11 and 12

    The Chinese V course is designed for students who have already completed Chinese IV. The class will focus on learning cultural topics such as Mandarin Arts, Famous Mandarin People, current events in China, etc. The class is mainly conducted in Mandarin, and video clips will be used as authentic resources to support student learning. Students will do research on cultural topics, and will write and orally present on these topics.

    Prerequisite: Completion of Chinese IV and recommendation of the department.
     
  • Cultures of the Spanish Speaking World


    For Grades 11 and 12

    This course fosters language proficiency while teaching new vocabulary and grammar explicitly through the study of Spanish-speaking cultures. 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 are assessed based on class discussions, homework assignments, quizzes, and projects. 

    Prerequisite: Completion of Spanish III and recommendation of the department.
     
  • French I


    For Grades 9-12

    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


    For Grades 9-12

    French II continues the work of the French I course. The course work 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. 
  • French III


    For Grades 10-12

    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 may elect to continue in French IV after successfully completing French III.
     
  • French IV / V


    For Grades 11 and 12

    These courses are divided into four quarter-long electives that deal with a variety of historical and contemporary elements of francophone study. The course focuses on the continued development of the four major communicative skills while offering the students a unique opportunity to study one particular topic in depth. 

    Prerequisite: Completion of French III and recommendation of the department
  • Honors Spanish IV


    For Grades 11 and 12

    This course is designed for students who have already completed Spanish Level III. This course alternates between readings of short stories, short film analysis, and the review of selected grammar concepts at an intermediate/advanced level. Class activities emphasize oral and written communication; therefore, active participation in the target language and careful homework completion are essential to do well in this class. This class is taught entirely in Spanish. 

    Prerequisite: Completion of Advanced Spanish III and recommendation of the department. 
  • Latin I


    For Grades 9-12

    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 derivation from Latin to English and the Romance languages. They investigate ancient Roman life and culture, and explore many facets of Greek mythology. 
  • Latin II


    For Grades 9-12

    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


    For Grades 10-12

    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 the 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. 
  • Spanish I


    For Grades 9-12

    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


    For Grades 9-12

    Spanish II continues to stress the development of the four basic language skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Emphasis is placed on oral communication and interaction, and students are expected to use the spoken language extensively in class. Content consists of structured reading assignments, as well as grammar-vocabulary activities and cultural awareness units. Students learn and practice the present, past, future, and conditional tenses. 
  • Spanish III


    For Grades 10-12

    Spanish III completes the introduction of advanced grammar points, and requires the students to communicate successfully in challenging conversational situations. The students continue to refine their use of the spoken and written language through a multiplicity of drills, compositions, and oralaural techniques. The course is conducted primarily in Spanish. The students read short stories and articles on historical and cultural information. Written work gradually becomes more complex as students master the use of all verb tenses and moods, in addition to completing an in-depth study of the formation and use of the present and the imperfect subjunctive. 
  • Spanish IV


    For Grades 11 and 12

    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 predominantly in Spanish, and examines the history and society of Spain and other Hispanic countries. 

    Prerequisite: Completion of Spanish III and recommendation of the department. 
  • Spanish V


    For Grades 11 and 12

    The Spanish V: Youth Culture course will examine a variety of themes relevant to the culture of teenagers and young adults across the Hispanic world. Students will engage in a study of music, movies, daily regimen, attitudes and initiatives and popular style. Students will engage in weekly presentations and daily conversations to develop their productive and receptive auditory skills. They will also write reviews, summaries and opinions and share these with their classmates. In this way all four linguistic skills will receive frequent attention. 

    Prerequisite: Completion of Spanish IV or Advanced Spanish III, and recommendation of the department.  

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