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World Languages

Cristina Perez, Department Chair

The benefit of knowing another language contributes to Friends’ Central’s commitment to developing globally minded, culturally aware graduates. Students are required to take two consecutive years of a language, and most take a language for four years. The majority of students enter the Upper School having already completed the first level of French, Spanish, or Latin and further their studies for two more years and beyond to the advanced level. Other students start their language studies or begin a new language in grade 9. In French and Spanish, the curriculum is rich with opportunities for speaking, listening, reading, and writing. In Latin, the focus is on developing translation skills through the mastery of grammatical concepts and the acquisition of vocabulary. Courses in each language range from introductory to advanced literature and analysis.

The process of teaching a modern language begins with the belief that each student can attain advanced proficiency. Our approach is multidisciplinary and contemporary, taking advantage of technology to expose our students to a variety of native speakers and cultures and to stress that language is a communication tool. Students are encouraged to speak and write in the target language, gaining confidence in their abilities with practice. Latin is not spoken in class and prose composition is not emphasized. Understanding the cultures of antiquity and the medieval world is essential in placing literary works in context and an important component in instruction.

Each language’s classroom experience is supplemented by opportunities for travel abroad. Latin students may travel to Italy to see the monuments of the Romans – ancient and modern – and read their Latin inscriptions. French and Spanish students may take part in exchange opportunities with schools in Lyon, France and Seville, Spain. A summer service program in Peru is also available for students to further their study of the Spanish language.

Finally, interested students may take part in national language competitions and join clubs such as Le Club Francophone, Latin Club, or the Latino Culture Club.

Spanish

Spanish I: Intro to Spanish Language & Culture

In the first year, students develop their communication skills through listening, speaking, reading, and writing in Spanish. Videos, dialogues, skits, and e-textbook activities are used to practice vocabulary, grammar, listening comprehension, and pronunciation. This course provides a supportive atmosphere to help students develop the confidence to talk about themselves while learning about the Spanish-speaking world. As the year progresses, this course is taught increasingly in Spanish, as students are introduced to the variety of Spanish-speaking cultures in the Americas and Spain.

Spanish II

This course begins with an extensive formal review of grammar, and students are expected renew vocabulary, verb forms, and grammar structures acquired in Spanish I. Emphasis is given to the development of listening and speaking skills. Taught largely in Spanish, students work throughout the year on preparing skits, completing creative projects, and writing short compositions to develop writing and speaking skills. Students also gain insight into Hispanic cultures through texts, videos, and short readings.

Spanish II Advanced

It is expected that students in the immersion-style environment of this class are proficient in the grammatical concepts presented in the first-year course. In addition to improving listening and speaking skills, an increased focus is given to extensive reading and writing assignments. To supplement the text, students create projects that include the writing and filming of videos for the class and giving oral presentations utilizing presentational iPad apps. Enrollment in this course is by teacher recommendation.

Spanish III

This course begins with an extensive review of the grammar principles covered in the previous years, followed by a study of advanced grammar structures. Students are expected to use their growing knowledge to communicate their ideas in different situations. Compositions are assigned to strengthen writing skills. Students work individually or in groups to prepare creative projects, oral presentations, and skits. Throughout the year, students read a variety of short writings about Hispanic history and culture, as well as contemporary newspaper and magazine articles, forming the basis for both written and oral production. In the winter, students watch a Spanish movie or a dramatic television series and discuss issues raised by them. In the spring, students read and discuss a grouping of short stories or other extended material to further their proficiency in reading, writing, and speaking.

Spanish III Advanced

This course continues the immersion-style environment introduced in the previous years. After a thorough review of grammatical principles, advanced grammatical structures are studied and applied to oral and written communication. Special attention is given to vocabulary building, oral proficiency, and strengthening writing skills. Students work individually or in groups to prepare oral reports, skits, and creative projects, and students are expected to discuss Latino cultures, ancient civilizations, and current events. Film units are used to improve listening comprehension and promote class discussion. Enrollment in this course is by teacher recommendation.

Spanish IV

This course strengthens and reviews the language skills students have developed through their first three years of study. Listening and speaking activities are presented in a systematic fashion. Grammatical concepts are reviewed to allow the students to clearly express their ideas. Students engage in class discussions in which they express their views on the readings, current events, and topics of personal interest. Readings include short stories, poems, plays, and online news articles. These texts help the students communicate with ease in Spanish, develop their analytic approach to literature, and improve their writing skills. Discussions of Latino cultural systems are an integral part of the course, and film units, online resources, and songs are used to supplement these offerings. This course is open to students who have completed Spanish III.  

The Contemporary Latino Experience

This course continues the development of students’ cultural understanding of the Spanish-speaking world as they build skills in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The course is discussion-oriented and project-based, with curricular units evolving from areas of student interest. Some topics have included “El Mejor Restaurante: Best Latino Restaurant in Philadelphia,” “Narcotráifo: Drug Wars in Mexico,” “¿Qué Hablas?: The Variety of Spanish Accents,” and “La Canción: From Poetry To Song.” Students review grammar as it arises in the articles, recipes, songs, videos, and movies that provide the foundation for hands-on activities and in-depth analysis of the cultural experiences they study, discuss, and practice in class. This course is open to students who have completed Spanish III and above.

Spanish: History & Culture of Latin America & Spain Advanced

This college-level Spanish course has as its focus the Latin American identity with respect to Latin America’s relationship with Spain. The texts include studies of art history, comparative religions, and political history. Many of the readings come from Carlos Fuentes’ El Espejo Enterrado (The Buried Mirror), which he wrote in commemoration of Columbus’ 1492 “discovery” of the Americas. Other texts include short stories, movies, and poems. In addition, a social awareness of Latino cultures is fostered through discussion of current events. Grammatical structures are reviewed and incorporated into the literary analyses students write on the class readings. Enrollment in this course is by teacher recommendation.

The following two Advanced Spanish Literature courses will alternate each year:

Spanish Literature Advanced: Jorge Luis Borges & Julio Cortázar and Federico García Lorca

This yearlong course is the equivalent of an early intermediate college literature course covering selected works by the Latin American authors, Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortázar, and by the Spanish poet and playwright, Federico García Lorca. We will read all works in their original form, and we will take the time to analyze the texts in depth. The emphasis of this course is on the advanced development of critical analytical skills and oral discussion. Special attention will be given to writing expression and vocabulary acquisition. Grammatical structures are reviewed and applied to the written analyses. Enrollment in this course is by teacher recommendation.

Spanish Literature Advanced: Ana María Matute & Miguel de Unamuno and Gabriel García Márquez and Isabel Allende

This yearlong course is the equivalent of an intermediate college literature course covering selected works by the Spanish poet, playwright, and philosopher Miguel de Unamuno; short stories by the Spanish writer Ana María Matute; and selected works by two of the best-known Latin American authors, Gabriel Garcia Márquez (Colombia) and Isabel Allende (Chile). All works are read in their original form and analyzed in depth. The emphasis of this course is on the advanced development of critical analytical skills and oral discussion. Special attention will be given to written expression and vocabulary building. Grammatical structures are reviewed and applied to the written analyses. Enrollment in this course is by teacher recommendation.

French

French I: Intro to French Language and Culture

In this course, students develop their communication skills through listening, speaking, reading, and writing in French.Videos, dialogues, skits, and e-textbook activities are used to practice vocabulary, grammar, listening comprehension, and pronunciation. A supportive classroom atmosphere helps students develop the confidence to talk about themselves and their worlds while learning about Francophone cultures in the world. As the year progresses, the course is taught increasingly in French.

French II/II Advanced

This course initially reviews and then builds on the skills developed in French I, reinforcing pronunciation and essential grammatical, lexical, and cultural material while providing more advanced material in each domain. Students develop greater confidence and facility in expressing themselves in French, as well as in understanding others. Taught in French, this course encourages students to talk about themselves, their families, and their world, as well as to explore the lives and cultures of people of the French-speaking world, emphasizing the beauty and diversity of other traditions and lifestyles. Skits and presentations help students internalize new vocabulary and grammatical structures and use them in context. Students increase their oral proficiency through active practice using a variety of listening comprehension materials. Along with the D’Accord-2 program and films, students explore online resources and, in the spring, read short texts in French.

Enrollment in the advanced level is by teacher recommendation.

French III/III Advanced

Film is the critical component in this course. Taught in French, the course emphasizes discussion, oral and written proficiency, and listening comprehension. Students learn about important cinematographic movements, different film genres, and how to understand the role of the camera, while developing increasing confidence and oral proficiency; they discuss themes, relationships, and character development through their study of the films. Students in the advanced course become significantly more proficient in their mastery and use of complex grammatical structures; students in the non-accelerated course focus on improving their oral and written expression to convey their perceptions. The text, Cinéphile, coordinates the study of most of the program’s 10 films, along with current events, geography, culture, grammar, and vocabulary development. As an introduction to literature,the course ends with the study of Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, providing the foundation for studying literary themes and the human experience.

Enrollment in the advanced level is by teacher recommendation.

Paris: Yesterday and Today

This course focuses on cultural units about Paris, France’s capital city. We will look below the surface of this amazing tourist destination and investigate what really makes the City of Light tick. Grammar and vocabulary are studied in the context of the cultural units. The objective is to encourage students to develop their French comprehension, expression, and cultural understanding via their study of Paris, past and present.

Units of study include Hier et Aujourd’hui (Today and Yesterday): Historic and Modern Parisian layout, architecture, and populations – including the wide range of immigrant experiences; Grèves, Manifestations et Révolutions (Strikes, Demonstrations and Revolutions): From the French Revolution of 1789 to the student uprisings of May 1968 to today’s yellow vests, the French approach to demanding large scale social change; and Paris vu par les autres Français (Paris, as Seen by Other French People): How do French outside of Paris perceive their capital?

Other units take social media, gastronomic, or artistic views of Paris: Infogram et Snapchat à Paris(Infogram and Snapchat in Paris): Research about Paris using Infogram and Snapchat; Le film parisien (Parisian Film): Movies made in and about Paris; La Chanson parisienne (Parisian Song): French music, specifically about Paris; Le meilleur croissant de Philly (Philly’s Best Croissant): Finding the very best local croissant and visiting a local bakery to see how they are made.

This course is open to students who have finished French III and above.

Francophone Identities, Cultures and Societies Through Time and Space

This advanced class will focus on the rich history of
francophone cultures and societies throughout the world. Where and why is French spoken in the world? How does the feminist movement in France relate to the current gender questions in the US? From the Paris Accord to the controversial carbon tax abandoned by president Macron after the Yellow Vest protests, what are the challenges and the limits of an environmental movement outside the US? Who were the Francophone intellectuals from the Pan-African movement that emerged during the civil rights struggles of the 60s and 70s? What are the similarities and differences in the immigration debate in Europe compared to those in the US? Why do we call the millennials in the francophone world the “génération engagée”? Do their fights relate to yours? What are the current debates about race and multiculturalism in France and Québec? 

The course will enable students to gain a better understanding of these topics while becoming more proficient in French. We will explore a variety of authentic materials, including recordings, videos, newspaper articles, and podcasts which will trigger class discussions entirely in French. The vast majority of the assessments will be based on tasks which will develop project management skills as well as comprehension/expression competencies in the target language. Grammatical structures are reviewed and applied to the written analyses. 

By reflecting on “otherness,” the final aim of this course is to rethink our own identities. In what ways do our language, our institutions, and our history shape our identities?

This class is the most advanced French class. Enrollment in this course is by teacher recommendation.

Latin

Latin II

In addition to completing the basics of Latin grammar,
students read and translate selections in prose adapted from various ancient Roman authors. The focus is on the development of translation skills. Students pursue a study of Roman archaeology, concentrating on the monuments of the Julio-Claudians. A requirement is an oral presentation on the historical veracity of a character as portrayed in the I, Claudius series, which will be viewed as a component of the class syllabus.

Latin II Advanced

Advanced second year students complete their study of
Latin grammar at an accelerated pace. The goal is to acquire and even master the skills necessary to read and translate passages of text as written by the ancient Roman authors. Prose composition exercises are included in the syllabus. A requirement is an oralpresentation on the historical veracity of a character as portrayed in the I, Claudius series, which will be viewed as a component of the class syllabus. In studying Roman archaeology, the class will focus on the monuments of the Julio-Claudians. Enrollment in this course is by teacher recommendation

Latin III

Students in Latin III translate Medieval Latin prose and poetry written after the end of the Roman Empire until the Italian Renaissance. The class will use the texts Medieval Mosaic by A.W. Godfrey and K. Sidwell’s Reading Medieval Latin. Selections from Jerome’s Latin version of the Hebrew and Greek scriptures, i.e. the Latin Vulgate Bible, and later historical and biographical writings are translated. Students are introduced to historical and literary scholarship, along with the archaeological research pertinent to the texts they are reading.A student’s ability to translate passages at sight will be a factor in assessing performance. This course is open to students who have successfully completed Latin II or Latin II Advanced.

Latin III Advanced

Advanced third year students complete the curriculum
of Latin III at an accelerated pace with more challenging
assessments and increasing focus on the ability to translate passages at sight. Prose composition from English into Latin is included in the syllabus. Enrollment in this course is by teacher recommendation.

Latin Literature Advanced: Vergil

The focus of this course is the translation of selections of Vergil’s epic poem, The Aeneid. Students will work collaboratively to translate sections of this great epic, examining the ways in which reading the text in the original gives an understanding of how the author used language to create an impact on meaning. In learning to read the Latin of this great tradition, students will strengthen and solidify their knowledge of Latin grammar and vocabulary, build their skills in literary analysis and interpretation, hone their literary discussion skills, and develop their analytical writing and critical thinking skills. As they explore the Aeneid’s central themes and the Roman values held therein, they will become versed in the epic tradition and its influence on literature and the arts to this day.

German

German Tutorial/Independent Study

A beginning and intermediate German tutorial will be offered in the fall. Sessions will be scheduled at the beginning of September after the tutorial group has been formed and will meet two to three blocks per week. Students will take advantage of some of the new online language learning tools now available and will also be working with traditional printed materials, including short stories and grammatical exercises. The tutorial will not be graded and will not appear on the transcript. Students will receive mid- and end-of-year special reports, and their participation will be noted in the school recommendations that accompany their college applications. Spaces will be limited.