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.
Prerequisites: Demonstration of mastery of Intermediate Chinese skills, usually 10 or 15 credits of Intermediate Chinese and Departmental Permission.
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.
Health & Environment: Students will explore topics including individuals’ wellbeing, exercise, nutrition, access to healthcare, and the interrelationships between human activity and the natural as well as built environmental change.
Learning Chinese Through Media: Through various sources of Chinese media including authentic images, students will learn to discuss new topics from popular culture in China to globalization. Students will also gain more understanding of regional cultural differences in Chinese speaking areas.
French Theater:In this class, students will explore plays from various centuries and compare and contrast how French theater has evolved. What brought about these differences in both themes and in style? Students will delve into works by Marcel Pagnol, Molière and other Francophone playwrights. Students will analyze what themes came up in these plays which represented the reality in France and the world in those centuries. Through close readings of plays, performances, videos and other sources, students will explore ways French theater has evolved.
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 have been 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, Kiffe Kiffe Demain, and La Civilisation, Ma Mère as well as Music by Cheb Khaled and Idir, films by Yamina Benguigui and Nabil Ayouch, Art by Andre Elbaz and Yto Barrada.
The Francophone World: Western and Central Africa:Students will be exposed to the many identities, traditions, and cultures of the Francophone world. The course will begin with a historical review of how the Francophone world came to be, focusing on Western and Central Africa. Through film, literature and the study of current events, students will understand how the relationships between France and its former colonies have changed and continue to evolve in a post-colonial world.
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.
Latinos in the US: This course examines different aspects of the fast-growing U.S. Latina/o population. Students will explore historical, economic, and political factors that have converged to shape the Latino identity in the United States. Through authentic resources, such as news articles, documentaries, music, poetry, and personal stories, students will have an opportunity to think critically about the pressing issues of the Latino communities in the United States. Students will examine case studies of how Latinos/as are using social media and advocacy initiatives to gain political, economic, and cultural visibility. In this course, students will continue to build on and expand their writing, reading, speaking, and listening skills. Students are expected to use previously learned grammatical structures, such as, the preterit, imperfect, and future tense. New grammatical structures, such as the perfect tenses, will be introduced.
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, 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. 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.
Voices from Latin America: Storytelling has long been a powerful way in which communities share, process, and reflect upon their histories and personal experiences. In this course, students will work with the Spanish language podcast Radio Ambulante (think This American Life in Spanish) as well as other narrative forms, such as oral histories, film, and music, to explore varied Latin America experiences through highly engaging stories. The goals of this course are to broaden and deepen our understanding of the varied Latin American experience and to explore how the medium of podcasting and other storytelling formats are used to shape and share narratives.
Prerequisites: Demonstration of mastery of Chinese I skills. Departmental Permission Required.
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.
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.
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.
Human Rights: Focusing on 3 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, students will develop their oral and written skills in French. From access to food to the right to education, students will be exposed to new vocabulary and grammatical structures. While the course will have an overall global view of these issues, particular attention will be given to issues concerning the Francophone world.
Prerequisites: Spanish 1 or MS Spanish C.
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 different traditions and celebrations practiced in Spanish-speaking countries. They will also learn to talk about their own customs and experiences.
Travel & Tourism: In this course students will know about different countries with Spanish-speaking populations, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 the abbreviated version of the classic play “Cyrano de Bergerac.” The story will act as a starting point, allowing students to build mastery in the future and conditional tenses by reworking and re-imagining the tale. Additionally, students will be exposed to new tenses and review the past tense.
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.
Technology In Our Lives: Students will be introduced to the vocabulary of technology and social media. Additionally, students will be given the opportunity to research and discuss how technology and social media have affected our everyday life, the factors that have allowed for recent technological advances, as well as any moral and ethical implications. Student created products will include both written and oral communication using different platforms, allowing for a thorough review of foundational grammar, as well as future and conditional tenses.
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.
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.
Two terms course.
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