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.