Modern Languages

Beaver’s Chinese, French and Spanish programs are designed to develop proficiency in the four basic language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. At all levels, students develop increasing levels of proficiency through exploration of the cultural, social, and political landscapes in which the languages are spoken. With the exception of Level 1 courses, all courses are 1-term topical language classes centered around a guiding theme.

Honors and Standard Level students work together in the same sections in all language courses. Students who intend to pursue honors credit will discuss that possibility with their teachers and advisors in the first week of the course and will commit to completing honors level work within the context of the course. With the exception of the Level 1 courses, all language courses may be taken at the Honors or Standard Level.

All students must take a language; any student who thinks that he/she may qualify for a language waiver should carefully read the Language Waiver Policy that is included at the end of the Modern Language course descriptions.

Thirty credits in one language are required for graduation, which is the equivalent of 6 terms of the language. Most students continue their foreign language study beyond the basic requirement in order to achieve greater proficiency and to meet the expectations of selective colleges.

In order to advance to the next level of a language, students must demonstrate mastery of the necessary skills and receive Department approval.

Independent Study

Students have the opportunity to explore English, History, Mathematics, Science, Language, or Arts topics of interest under the supervision of a member of the appropriate department. After designing a project with a faculty member, the student presents a formal proposal to the Department Heads for approval. (An Independent Study may not duplicate the content of another course already being offered by the department because of schedule conflicts.) The student works in his or her own time and meets with the specified department member during one scheduled period per week for discussions and planning. Application forms are available from the Upper School Director. Proposals must have been submitted by the regular course selection dates.

Modern Language: Advanced Chinese

In Advanced Chinese, students will continue to develop their reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. At this level, students have greater autonomy with the language and are encouraged to use it creatively and authentically. Grammar is studied incrementally through storytelling as functional chunks for meaningful communication. Vocabulary is practiced in a thematic and communicative way, and the topics that are discussed include: dining, shopping, asking for and giving directions, and expressing opinions. Students will study the culture and diversity of the Chinese-speaking world in the form of culturally rich images, videos, music, and some authentic texts. Audio and video materials, computer software, games, projects, skits and presentations foster student interaction and participation.

Prerequisites: Demonstration of mastery of Intermediate Chinese skills, usually 10 or 15 credits of Intermediate Chinese and Departmental Permission.

ADVANCED CHINESE COURSES:
Cuisine and Culture:
Students will learn vocabulary related to groceries, ingredients, dining out and the kitchen. They will learn different expressions as well as units of measurement used in Chinese-speaking countries. They will also learn about the typical dining etiquette.

Travel and Transportation:
Students will learn practical topical vocabulary around travel, asking for and giving directions while developing their skills of reading authentic Chinese signs, understanding Mandarin of various accents and expanding their vocabulary.

Modern Language: Advanced French

At the Advanced level, students will utilize their superior reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills to engage with content at a high level. At this level, students are expected to use the language exclusively to engage with complex and challenging topics. Vocabulary is acquired through exposure to authentic texts and communicative practice. Grammar is addressed primarily in the context of student work, though students will learn a few advanced compound tenses while refining their written and oral communication. These classes only use authentic materials to guide both language learning and discussions.

Prerequisites: Demonstration of mastery of Intermediate French skills, usually 10 or 15 credits of Intermediate French. Departmental Permission Required.

ADVANCED FRENCH COURSES:
Art Culture & Current Events of the Maghreb:

This class focuses on contemporary issues taking place in the French Maghreb: Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Students will use contemporary texts, films, music, and art to learn more about this region which was colonized by France. The Maghreb is a region where both Arabs and ‘Berbers’ have lived for centuries and a place that Jews and Muslims have called home. Students will engage in debates, write blog posts, keep a journal, and do presentations on various current topics such as the situation in Western Sahara, what it means to be colonized in the Maghreb, the tension between the indigenous people of the Maghreb and the Arabs, race and identity, post colonization, the role of religion, just to name a few topics. The class will be taught entirely in French. Works studied will include stories by Tahar Ben Jelloun, Fatima Mernissi, Music by Cheb Khaled and Idir, films by Yamina Benguigui and Nabil Ayouch, Art by Andre Elbaz and Yto Barrada.

Advanced French, 20th Century French Theater:

How was 20th century theater different from 18th and 19th century French theater? What brought about these differences in both themes and in style? In this class, students will learn about 20th century theater by delving into works by Marcel Pagnol, Eugène Ionesco and Jean Genet. Students will analyze what themes came up in these plays which represented the reality in France and the world in the 20th century. Through close readings of  plays, performances, videos and other sources, students will explore ways 20th century theater evolved from the times of such playwrights as Molière.  

Hell is Others: Personal and Political Relationships in the Francophone World:

How and why we treat and interact with one another is an enduring theme as relevant to the oral tales of precolonial West Africa as it is in our own lives. This course will follow the theme of personal relationships through French and Francophone films and plays. Starting with Jean-Paul Sartre’s play Huis clos in which he makes the argument that “l’enfer c’est les autres” (hell is others), students will explore the effects that location, age, culture and power have on relationships. We will analyze classic films such as Le Grand Voyage about a father son road trip to Mecca, and Chocolat a film that examines the complex relationships between French colonialists and the Cameroonian people. Each film and play will connect to our theme, but will also introduce us to different cultures and stories from the Francophone world. Students will refine their French skills while readings plays, engaging in discussions and writing their own analyses of the texts we study.

Revolutions: France, Haiti and Beyond:

This course will look at Revolutions across the Francophone world and their effects on national identity. We will begin with the enlightenment philosophy that fueled the French Revolution and other revolutions since. We will look at significant moments in and the causes and aftermaths of the French Revolution, the Haitian Revolution and other revolts and revolutions across the Francophone world. We will look at these revolutions through different lenses using a variety of primary and secondary sources, from official documents to novels, plays, movies and more. The class will also address current conflicts happening in the Francophone world such as in Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Modern Language: Advanced Spanish

At the Advanced level, students will utilize their superior reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills to engage with content at a high level. At this level, students are expected to use the language exclusively to engage with complex and challenging topics. Vocabulary is acquired through exposure to authentic texts and communicative practice. Grammar is addressed primarily in the context of student work, though students will learn a few advanced compound tenses while refining their written and oral communication. These classes only use authentic materials to guide both language learning and discussions.

Prerequisites: Demonstration of mastery of Intermediate Spanish skills, usually 10 or 15 credits of Intermediate Spanish. Departmental Permission Required.

ADVANCED SPANISH COURSES:

Environments in Crisis:

This course focuses on current environmental challenges across Latin America. Students will be encouraged to analyze the connections between the social contexts and contemporary environmental crises. Through case studies, students will explore the interrelationships between human activity and environmental change. The topics to be studied will include the destruction of the rainforest, water pollution, exploitation of natural resources, habitat destruction and endangered species. Students will examine how social media, community engagement, and advocacy initiatives have played key roles in the positive outcomes of environmental problems.

Gender & Society in the Spanish Speaking World:
In this course, students will study gender roles and inequality throughout the Spanish-speaking world. Through literature, film, current events, and personal stories, students will have an opportunity to think critically about the impact that gender has on individuals, families, and societies. Students will be expected to demonstrate their understanding and express their opinions in discussions, essays and projects. One of the goals for the course is for students to make connections to their surroundings and and to effectively leverage social to actively express their views.

Social Justice in Latin America:

In this course, students will investigate the key social justice issues facing the Spanish-speaking populations of the Americas. We will examine struggles for equity among various groups, including indigenous populations, political dissidents, and the poor and disenfranchised. Using a variety authentic sources from the media, such as news articles, video clips, music, brief literature and poetry, we will compare and contrast the multiple perspectives of people of Latin American descent. Students will be expected to demonstrate their understanding and express their opinions in discussions, essays and projects. One of the goals of this course is for students to understand the cultural forces that shape the beliefs and attitudes of diverse groups of people.

Modern Day Colombia:
While discovering what Colombia is like today economically, socially and culturally, students will gain a better understanding of the country as a whole from different angles. Students will research and learn about the drastic changes that have taken place in the last twenty years, especially in certain regions, that have revamped and revived Colombia to as it stands today.

Latin American Social Movements:

How do writers, filmmakers, painters and other intellectuals grapple with national histories? What social and political movements have shaped contemporary Latin America? By examining contemporary literature, film and other cultural products students will discuss the interplay of social and political movements, justice and forgiveness, memory and forgetting. Students will polish their reading, writing, speaking and listening comprehension skills as they debate, discuss and reflect on these complex contemporary topics.

Modern Language: Chinese I

This introductory course for Mandarin Chinese is designed for students who have no previous exposure to the language. It stresses the building blocks of spoken and written communication- pronunciation, tones, stroke order and radical recognition. Students will be able to engage in basic daily interactions in Chinese using speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. Grammar is introduced incrementally through storytelling as functional chunks for meaningful communication. Vocabulary is practiced in a thematic and communicative way, and the topics that are discussed include: introductory greetings, family, dates and time, hobbies, visiting friends, making plans, studying Chinese and school life. Students will also study cultural and historic elements of the Chinese-speaking world. Audio and video materials, computer software, games, projects, and presentations foster student interaction and participation. By the end of the first year, students should know approximately 300 words.

Modern Language: Foundations Arabic

Unlike our other languages, we do not offer a full 3-year program in Arabic. This means that Foundations Arabic is open to any student, but only students who have fulfilled their language requirement may take Arabic as their only language class. Other students must also be enrolled in a Spanish, French or Chinese in order to fulfill their graduation requirement. Once a student progresses satisfactorily through Foundations Arabic, (s)he may enroll in Intermediate Arabic. Arabic classes will meet twice a week during G-block throughout the school year. Foundations and Intermediate Arabic are 5-credit classes.

Modern Language: Foundations of Chinese

Foundations of Chinese builds on students’ basic proficiency established in Chinese I. Students may enroll in this course having demonstrated proficiency equivalent to completion a full-year high school course. This course will continue to develop students’ listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. Grammar is studied incrementally through storytelling as functional chunks for meaningful communication. Vocabulary is practiced in a thematic and communicative way, and the topics that are discussed include: hobbies, weather, dining, celebrations, shopping and asking for directions. Students will continue to study the culture of the Chinese-speaking world in the form of language use, traditions and current events. Audio and video materials along with computer software, games, projects, and presentations will be used to foster student interaction and participation. The following non-sequential, Foundations of Chinese courses will be offered in 2017-2018. Most students will want to sign up for both courses in order to be prepared for Intermediate Chinese the following year.

Make a Good First Impression: Students will learn to introduce themselves in culturally appropriate ways and learn about formal and informal speech.

Friends from the Start: Students will learn vocabulary related to background information, hobbies, leisure time and celebrations.

Modern Language: Foundations of French

In Foundations of French, students will continue to develop their language skills through reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Vocabulary will be taught through stories and accessible texts chosen around the themes of each one-term class. The class will be driven by comprehensible input; in other words, listening and reading that is understandable. Through readings and research students will also expand their cultural understanding of France and the Francophone world. Students completing this class will be able to comfortably use verbs in the passé composé and imperfect, direct and indirect pronouns, reflexive verbs, some relative pronouns and negative expressions. Students will show the language that they can produce creatively through writing assignments, videos and projects.

Prerequisites: French 1 or MS French C. Most students will want to sign up for two of the following 5-credit courses in order to be prepared for Intermediate French the following year.

FRENCH FOUNDATIONS Courses:

Modern Life:

Students will get a chance to compare their lives to those of French and Francophone teens today. They will connect with teens via email and social media. They will get a chance to see what is hip in France through various level appropriate magazines, blogs and videos including music, celebrities and film. Students will also learn about technology in the francophone world and use related vocabulary to learn about coding.

Home Life:

Students will compare their homelife to that of students in France. They will research cultural traditions from festivals to local dishes through level-appropriate sources such as readings and videos. Students will create projects describing a fictional day in the life of a francophone or French family based on research.

The Marketplace:

Students will develop their oral and written skills in French as they learn about the buying and selling of goods in the French speaking world. From groceries and clothing to hotels and restaurants, students will learn to barter, compare and contrast. Students will learn vocabulary related to groceries, ingredients and cooking. They will also learn about typical prepared foods that can be found in the marketplaces of francophone countries.

Modern Language: Foundations of Spanish

In this course, students will continue to develop their reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. Vocabulary is practiced in a thematic and communicative way. Grammar is learned incrementally, and the topics that are discussed include: the present progressive tense, direct and indirect object pronouns, estar + adjectives, reflexive verbs, verbs like gustar, comparatives and superlatives, the imperfect tense and the preterite tense. Students will study the culture of the Spanish-speaking world in the form of language use, customs, celebrations, art, historical figures, and current contributors to Latin American and Spanish society through a series of two or three one-term Foundations of Spanish courses. Most students will want to sign up for two of the following 5-credit courses in order to be prepared for Intermediate Spanish the following year. Course topics are briefly outlined below.

Prerequisites: Spanish 1 or MS Spanish C.

SPANISH FOUNDATIONS Courses:

Social Life: Students will study vocabulary related to family, friends and social life in the Spanish-speaking world. Students will build their communication skills as they tell stories about family and friends.

The Marketplace: Students will develop their oral and written skills in Spanish as they learn about the buying and selling of goods in the Spanish speaking world. From groceries and clothing to hotels and restaurants, students will learn to barter, compare and contrast.

Cuisine & Culture: Students will learn vocabulary related to groceries, ingredients and the kitchen. They will learn different expressions as well as units of measurement used in Spanish-speaking countries. They will also learn about the typical gastronomy of different countries.

Customs and Celebrations: In this course, students will explore assimilation and acculturation, cultural syncretism, and how globalization shapes communities.

Travel & Tourism: In this course students will know about different Spanish-speaking countries, their most important historic places, the urban and rural environment and will also practice the necessary skills and vocabulary to plan a trip and make reservations.

Modern Language: French I

This introductory course provides students with the basic skills to read, write, speak and understand introductory-level French. The emphasis of the class is to acquire language through constant exposure to comprehensible input with the use of storytelling and reading. In the second term, the teacher uses French exclusively in class. Vocabulary will be taught communicatively through stories and with some thematic units including greetings, telling time, weather, school, sports, food, making plans, family, and clothing. Grammar will be acquired mainly through listening and reading, although there will be some direct instruction. Students completing this class will be able to comfortably use the present tense of common regular and irregular verbs, articles, subject pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, commands, question formation, possessive adjectives and more.

Two terms course.

Modern Language: Intermediate Arabic

A continuation of Intermediate Arabic. Unlike our other languages, we do not offer a full 3-year program in Arabic. This means that Intermediate Arabic is open to any student, but only students who have fulfilled their language requirement may take Arabic as their only language class. Other students must also be enrolled in a Spanish, French or Chinese in order to fulfill their graduation requirement. Arabic classes will meet twice a week during G-block throughout the school year. Foundations and Intermediate Arabic are 5-credit classes.

Modern Language: Intermediate Chinese

In Intermediate Chinese, students continue to develop their reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. At this level, students have greater autonomy with the language and are encouraged to use it creatively and authentically. Grammar is studied incrementally through storytelling as functional chunks for meaningful communication. Vocabulary is practiced in a thematic and communicative way, and the topics that are discussed include: making recommendations, giving directions, expressing doubt and certainty, and expressing opinions. Students will study the culture and diversity of the Chinese-speaking world in the form of culturally rich images, videos, music, and some authentic texts. Audio and video materials, computer software, games, projects, skits and presentations foster student interaction and participation.

Prerequisites: Demonstration of mastery of Foundations of Chinese skills, usually 10 or 15 credits of Foundations of Chinese and Departmental Permission. Students will eventually need to take at least two of the Intermediate level courses.

INTERMEDIATE CHINESE COURSES:
Home, School and Work: Students will learn to talk about their life at home, school and their plans for their future education and careers. They will learn the necessary vocabulary to express their likes and dislikes concerning their present life, education and future goals.

Meeting Our Needs: Students will discover vocabulary related to people’s feelings, physical and mental states, courses of actions and routines. They will also learn about people’s lifestyles and customs in China and other Chinese-speaking regions.

Social Life: Students will learn how to get to know people better through more in-depth conversations about their backgrounds and interests. They will practice necessary skills and vocabulary to plan outings, pay visits, or invite friends over for homemade meals.

Modern Language: Intermediate French

In Intermediate French, students will improve their reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. At this level, students have greater autonomy with the language and are encouraged to use it creatively and authentically. Vocabulary is acquired through exposure to authentic texts and communicative practice, and the topics that are explored include: making recommendations, expressing doubt and certainty, and expressing opinions. Grammar is refined incrementally. Students will learn a few more tenses while refining their written and oral communication. The class will use more authentic texts and documents from the Francophone world to guide both language learning and discussions. Students will study culture and diversity in the form of current events, film, music, and famous novels and stories.

Prerequisites: Demonstration of mastery of Foundations of French skills, usually 10 or 15 credits of Foundations of French. Most students will want to sign up for two of the following 5-credit courses in order to be prepared for Advanced French the following year.

FRENCH INTERMEDIATE COURSES:

France: A Nation of Regions

As a country, France is known for, among many other things, its cheese and gastronomy; but each dish and each cheese comes from its own distinct region. What makes a country roughly the size of Texas have so many distinct regions with their own distinct cultures? In this class we will look at the regions of France and see what makes them unique and proud including gastronomy, art, poetry, music, literature and history. We will look at the French idea of terroir and why the foods from one area are unique to that area and cannot be reproduced elsewhere. The class will also look at how the French government and the regions themselves attempt to preserve their cultural heritage in the face of a changing world and globalization.

Action and Romance: This course will use abbreviated versions of some of the most important pieces of French literature. Students will be exposed to new tenses and review the past tense, while reading works such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Count of Monte Cristo, and or the Phantom of the Opera. Using these stories as a starting point, students will build mastery in the future and conditional tenses by reworking and re-imagining the tales.

Place & Identity: Students will explore cultural identity and how it is related to place. We will look at themes such as immigration and rural vs urban environments. Students will look at a variety of authentic sources that explore places and the people that inhabit them including Butterfly in the City and Jean de Florette, as well as representations of place and identity in poetry and music. Finally, we will look at how places have influenced and been represented in art.

Folklore: Students will be introduced to stories and different forms of storytelling from around the francophone world. We will study the oral storytelling traditions from western Africa and how it differs from, has influenced and has been influenced by French colonialism and later by modernity. Most of our sources will be written renditions of folklore, but we will also use recorded storytelling and film. Students will work on writing their own stories and reinterpreting traditional stories to their own lives.

Modern Language: Intermediate Spanish

In Intermediate Spanish, students continue to develop their reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. At this level, students have greater independence with the language and are encouraged to use it creatively and authentically. Vocabulary is acquired in a thematic and communicative way. Grammar is practiced incrementally, and the topics that are practiced include: imperfect, familiar, formal and nosotros commands, future and conditional, present subjunctive, present and past perfect, and past participles as adjectives. Students also study the culture of the Spanish-speaking world in the form of authentic literature, historical and literary figures, customs, celebrations, and music. Audio and video materials, Skype conferences, computer software, games, projects, and presentations foster student interaction and participation.

Prerequisites: Demonstration of mastery of Foundations of Spanish skills, usually 10 or 15 credits of Foundations of Spanish. Most students will want to sign up for two of the following 5-credit courses in order to be prepared for Advanced Spanish the following year.

SPANISH INTERMEDIATE COURSES:

Health & Wellness: In this course, students will explore topics including exercise and eating habits, access to healthcare, and the cultural context and politics of food.

Me, Myself and I: In this course, students will explore their personal histories and origins, relationships with their communities, how their choices shape their future.

Urban Life: In this course, students will explore changing landscapes, displaced communities, and migration in the context of the Spanish speaking world.

Storytelling: In this course, students will explore aspects of storytelling including short stories, journalism, poetry, and oral histories and the art of the interview.

Business & Entrepreneurship: In this course, students will explore how Hispanic and Latino businesses shape communities, creating business plans tailored to the needs of Spanish-speaking communities, and designing, producing, and marketing products.

Modern Language: Spanish for Native Speakers

This course offers Spanish-speaking students the opportunity to study Spanish formally in an academic setting in the same way that native English-speaking students study English language arts. In this course students will review grammar structures and develop academic vocabulary that will help them critically analyze a text, write essays, and acquire new information in different content areas. Students will examine not only linguistic but socio-cultural issues, developing a greater understanding of their Hispanic heritage. Students will develop their ability to think, write and speak maturely and persuasively in Spanish as they debate a variety of contemporary polemics. The course is divided into units, each one focusing on a particular Spanish-speaking author. Reading selections written in standard academic Spanish will serve as a departure point for discussion, writing and grammar activities. The instructional approach integrates language and content with emphasis on grammar and acquisition of new vocabulary, as well as developing techniques to write academic papers in Spanish.

Two terms course.

Modern Language: Spanish I

This introductory course provides students with the basic skills to read, to write, to speak, and to understand introductory-level Spanish. Vocabulary is practiced in a thematic and communicative way, and the topics discussed include: introductory greetings, friendship, school, sports, leisure activities, food, family, clothing, the home, and health. Grammar is learned incrementally, and the topics introduced include: indefinite and definite articles, subject pronouns, the present tense of regular verbs, the present tense of irregular verbs, adjective agreement and placement, possessive adjectives, direct and indirect objects, and the preterit tense of regular verbs. Students also study aspects of various Spanish-speaking countries. Audio and video materials, computer software, games, projects, and presentations foster student interaction and participation.

Two terms course.

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