Completing three years of language study is required as part of the diverse curriculum in Middle School. Students entering in Grade 6 select to study Chinese, French, or Spanish. It is our philosophy that students will grow in their appreciation and mastery of a language if they remain in the same language for three years. Students may not add or drop a language after the first day of school but movement, while not recommended, is possible if the schedule permits following the Grade 6 year only. Regardless of the language choice, students finishing three years of study in Middle School should be ready for a Level II or Level III course in Grade 9. Teachers make a recommendation for the next level based on academic readiness, current mastery in the language course, evidence of executive functioning skills (i.e., planning, time management, and ability to work independently), interest, and motivation.
The first two introductory years of language study are described as Novice 1A and B, while the third year moves to a Novice 2 level.
Novice 1A level courses run in response to interest, therefore, a course with fewer than five students may not run. New students in Grades 7 and 8 with previous language experience will take a skills assessment to establish their readiness for the grade level language. Those with no previous experience will enter an introductory course.
Novice 1A Chinese, French, and Spanish
Students fully engage their hearts, hands, and minds in the Novice 1A course. With an emphasis on project-based learning, students develop an appreciation for people and cultures through active roleplay, songs, and recreation of cultural traditions helping them to broaden their understanding of varying perspectives, practices, and values from other parts of the world. Language study is engaging and meaningful when students learn the skills needed to communicate in the target language by engaging in miming, drawing, singing, improvising a scene, collaborating with peers, and playing a variety of games. Simultaneously, students work to build the foundation for reading, writing, speaking, and listening to the target language.
In Novice 1A courses students build their introductory linguistic skills through short stories. In Novice 1A Chinese, students will learn how to recognize and draw Chinese characters by understanding how they were developed through images and stories. The stories promote learning within a communicative context and allow students to use text evidence to support their answers to comprehension questions. By emphasizing, expanding, or promoting lexical terms, grammatical patterns, and recognizing characters, the stories prepare students to be successful at the next level. They develop their writing skills through simple compositions or guided narratives, partake in interactive guided and unrehearsed conversations in the target language as they are expected to participate in diverse class activities.
Novice 1B Chinese, French, and Spanish
Novice 1B world language courses allow students to further immerse themselves in the language and culture as they expand their communication skills. With a continued focus on the development of listening, speaking, reading, and writing students expand their vocabulary in the target language and are prepared to have a conversational dialogue with a peer or practice at home with a family member. Students grow in their appreciation for the culture by collaborating with a peer on a research project, watching movies, singing songs, or preparing food, crafts, or artwork that are common in the culture.
Novice 2 Chinese, French, and Spanish
In Novice 2 courses in Middle School students end their three-year sequence of focused study and are able to understand and communicate in the target language using more complex sentence structures. Students engage their hands and minds by participating in interactive exercises, short plays, videos, short stories, and reading novels, helping them to build a fundamental capability of oral communication through real-life situations that explore new cultural, lexical, and grammatical themes. They develop their writing skills through more elaborate compositions or guided narratives, partake in guided and unrehearsed conversations with peers in the target language. Finally, students engage their hearts by developing cultural sensitivity and global awareness while they are introduced to Hispanophone, Francophone, and Chinese cultures. They expand their horizons through exploring real estate (houses and their architectures), fashion, the automobile industry, neighborhoods, hobbies, weather, food, and travel in the region. A community of respect is elevated as students acquaint themselves with a variety of perspectives on society as they practice their four linguistic competencies: reading and listening comprehension, speaking and writing skills.