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. Departmental Permission Required.
Course topics are briefly outlined below.

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

Prerequisites: Demonstration of mastery of Intermediate French skills and Departmental Permission Required.
Course topics are briefly outlined below.

The Francophone World: Québec of today and Yesterday<:In this class, students will explore Quebec’s rich history and culture. Students will use literature, current events, film, music and other resources to learn about the region of Quebec. This course will explore themes including La Révolution Tranquille, Quebecois identity today, Quebec’s indigenous population, Quebec’s relation to France today and yesterday. The course will also look at Quebec today as well as explore Quebec’s future. Students will read excerpts by Quebecois writers including Michel Tremblay, Wajdi Mouawad. This class will be taught entirely in French.

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

Prerequisites: Demonstration of Mastery of Intermediate Spanish skills and Departmental Permission Required.
Course topics are briefly outlined below.

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.

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, documentaries, music, 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 societal 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. Some of the topics that will be studied are music and regionalism, waves of immigration, faces of the political arena, soccer and Los Dos Escobares, Gabriel García Márquez, El Bogotazo, and more. Students will research and learn about the drastic changes that have taken place in the last twenty years, especially in regions like Medellín, that have revamped and revived Colombia as it stands today.

Current Events:This course aims at improving your knowledge and understanding of Latin American cultures. The goal is to enhance your awareness and understanding of the cultural diversity of the Spanish-speaking world. The course is organized by themes based on contemporary social, political and cultural issues of Spanish-speaking societies. Class activities will consist of discussions, oral and written reports, and debates, emphasizing problem-solving and respect for the opinions of others. This course uses a large selection of materials. We will use movies, the Internet, newspapers, readings, and radio programs that will be discussed during the semester and upon which class activities are based.

Modern Language: Arabic I

In Arabic 1, students learn the alphabet as well as the following vocabulary: family, school, furniture, numbers, adjectives, prepositions, country and city vocab and colors. Students meet twice a week to learn how to speak and write Arabic. They work on collaborative projects which include videos, songs and skits. By the end of the year, students can describe themselves, their families, friends and home using written and spoken Arabic. Unlike our other languages, we do not have 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.

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

In Foundations Arabic, students learn the present and past tense as well as vocabulary through stories. They work on reading, writing speaking and listening activities.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 students progress satisfactorily through Foundations Arabic, ( they 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.
Prerequisites: Demonstration of mastery of Chinese I skills and Departmental Permission Required.
Course topics are briefly outlined below.

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

Everyday Life: Students will get a chance to compare their life to that of teens in China and around the world today. By the end of the term, students should be comfortable describing their daily lives, from routines and schedules, to hobbies and habits.

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 equivalent and Departmental Permission Required.
Course topics are briefly outlined below.

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.

Everyday Life: Students will get a chance to compare their lives to those of French and Francophone teens today. By the end of the term, students should be comfortable describing their daily lives, from simple morning routines to hobbies and habits.

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: 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.
Prerequisites: Spanish 1 or equivalent and Departmental Permission Required.

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.

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 different traditions and celebrations practiced in Spanish-speaking countries. They will also learn to talk about their own customs in their families and from their childhood. This course focuses on traditions and customs of Mexico, as well as one of its famous artists, Frida Kahlo, reading a level-appropriate biography in Spanish.

Travel & Tourism:In this course, students will learn about important historic places in Spanish-speaking countries, both in Urban and rural environments. Through this exploration students will also learn valuable skills and vocabulary for traveling and navigating through new places in Spanish.

Home LifeIn this course, students read a novel called Bianca Nieves y sus siete toritos, which is about the life of a girl growing up in Spain whose father is a torero. They learn to understand Bianca’s complicated home life. In addition, students learn about different cultural aspects of Spain, including, but not limited to the controversy around bullfighting.

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.

Modern Language: Intermediate Arabic

A continuation of Intermediate Arabic. In Intermediate Arabic, students learn the future tense and continue to use the present and past tense with food and home vocabulary. Students continue to challenge themselves with Arabic stories, and they create their own plot twists and presentations based on readings. 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 and Departmental Permission Required.
Course topics are briefly outlined below.

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.

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 and Departmental Permission Required.
Course topics are briefly outlined below.

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.

Mystery and suspense: This course will use the abbreviated version of ‘The Phantom of The Opera’ and other French stories. Students will use these stories to review the past tense and learn the future and conditional tenses while working on their speaking, pronunciation, listening, reading and writing skills. Students will work on plot twists of the stories and create their own mystery and suspense stories using film, audio and other media forms.

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: preterite and imperfect, familiar, formal and nosotros commands, future and conditional, present subjunctive. 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.
Course topics are briefly outlined below.
Prerequisites: Demonstration of mastery of Foundations of Spanish skills and Departmental Permission Required.

Health & Wellness:In this course, students will explore health-related topics including cultural context of food, access to healthcare, physical exercise, emotional well-being, and the importance of meditation and maintaining a healthy balance with technology. Through the novel that students read called Vida o muerte en el Cusco, students learn about medical emergencies, as well as what it is like to travel through Peru.

Urban Life:In this course, students will explore various aspects of life in the city. Students will examine how topics such as pollution, accessibility, and migration shape urban settings. Students will also reflect on the causes and consequences of gentrification around the world and in our local communities

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 the various aspects of business and entrepreneurship through themes such as advertisement, consumerism, and how Hispanic and Latinx businesses shape communities. Students will have the opportunity to use the tools in the R+D center to create and market a product.

Contemporary Artists of the Spanish-Speaking World:In this course, students will explore art through various modes such as music and visual art produced by contemporary Spanish-speaking artists. They will work closely with these works and use them to develop their own artistic voice.

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.