World languages and cultures

The ability to communicate effectively with speakers of languages other than English is an essential skill in today's world, fostering greater cultural awareness and understanding. The team builds on and develops the student's confidence and enthusiasm for other languages and focuses on the four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing through functions in culturally based discrete contexts.

The middle school world languages program offers a range of courses in French, Spanish and Chinese for students in Grades 5-8. Classes are conducted in the target language, as appropriate to the students' level of proficiency, and are designed to develop listening, speaking, reading and writing skills.

Beginners courses are aimed at students who were not in a yearlong world languages program during the previous school year. If a student successfully completes a beginners course, they enter a continuers course the following year. Continuers courses are for students who have successfully completed at least one full year of an academic program in their chosen language.

Seven standards, established by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) and adopted by ASL K-12 world languages teachers, guide the program. Standards are addressed where appropriate in each grade level.

Standard 1: Interpersonal communication
Students engage in conversation, express feelings and emotions, and exchange information and opinions orally and in writing in the target language.

Standard 2: Interpretive communication
Students understand and interpret written and spoken language on a number of topics presented through a variety of media in the target language.

Standard 3: Presentational communication
Students present information, concepts and ideas to an audience of listeners or readers on a variety of topics in the target language.

Standard 4: Cultures
Students gain knowledge and demonstrate understanding of the relationships among practices, products and perspectives of cultures other than their own.

Standard 5: Comparisons
Students develop insight into the nature of language and culture by comparing their own languages and cultures with those of others.

Standard 6: Connections
Students acquire, reinforce and further their knowledge of other disciplines through their world languages studies, and recognize the ways information acquired in world languages classes, and in other classes, relate to and reinforce one another.

Standard 7: Communities
Students use language and/or demonstrate cultural knowledge and understanding within and beyond the school setting for personal, educational, and professional growth and enrichment.