Breadcrumbs

World languages and cultures

Use this chart in conjunction with the specific course descriptions and prerequisites, and note that the chart shows typical pathways, but not every possible scenario for student progression through the curriculum. 

Core languages meet ASL's graduation requirement and are offered in Arabic, Chinese, French and Spanish. A minimum of three sequential years* of one core language is required for graduation for all students, regardless of previous language exposure and proficiency.

Placement is made by evaluating a student’s previous language experience and is confirmed by the achievement on the STAMP test (an online proficiency test developed by Avant Assessment). The purpose of STAMP testing is diagnostic: it assesses students’ language skills in order to match them to the most suitable course. It is the department’s intent to place students correctly; ASL's courses may not correspond exactly to what an entering student may have studied already. Placement is reviewed on a yearly basis and takes into account proficiency and commitment to language study.The department aims to equip students with skills that enable them to communicate effectively, both linguistically and culturally, in more than one language. We encourage students to become lifelong learners of the languages they study. By emphasizing study of culture at all levels and employing a variety of materials and strategies, we aim to bring language learners to increasingly greater levels of proficiency in spoken and written language. A sequential program of instruction, at beginning, intermediate and advanced levels, meets the varied learning styles of students and prepares them for further language acquisition in college or in real-life situations.

Classes are conducted in the target language to the greatest degree possible and aim to develop skills in the four areas of language study: listening, reading, speaking and writing. Use of English is kept to a minimum. Teachers encourage students to participate actively in class and to take advantage of every possible opportunity to use their developing language skills. At every stage of the program, students are guided towards mastery of the mechanics of the language and appreciation of culture as they increase their ability to express themselves and communicate effectively. At higher levels, students develop their ability to read, analyze and discuss literary works, contemporary texts, and films.

Teachers draw on a variety of sources and integrate appropriate interactive material through the world languages media center. The internet, television and a wide variety of multimedia software provide resources to enhance the learning experience at all levels. The department also sponsors a range of activities to provide students with the opportunity to build on skills acquired in the classroom: excursions to appropriate venues in and around London and short language trips to target language countries. All students, particularly as they approach level III, are strongly encouraged to take part in language immersion and/or language study and service programs of longer duration during the summer vacation. ASL is an affiliate member of School Year Abroad (SYA). Each year, Grade 11 and 12 students have the opportunity to apply to live with families and attend schools in Rennes (France), Zaragoza (Spain), Beijing (China), Hanoi (Vietnam) or Ichinomiya (Japan). Students who participate in supplemental programs can request replacement depending on their experiences. Final placement is determined by online STAMP results.

*Students joining ASL after Grade 9 may apply their previous years of high school-level language study to the ASL graduation requirement, provided they continue in the same language of study. Students who complete the AP course in a language, but have not yet fulfilled the three-year requirement, may opt to complete the requirement by either 1) continuing in the language of their AP, or 2) beginning study in another language offered to a total of three years.

Arabic

Arabic I

1 credit; full year

This course focuses on communication in Arabic through a variety of formal and informal registers appropriate for exchanging information about basic topics relating to everyday life. Students learn the phonology and script of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) for written communication, and build aural-oral proficiency with a variety of colloquial and formal vocabulary/structures. Texts are supplemented with print, audio and multimedia material representative of contemporary Arabic culture. The class emphasizes a communicative approach, and students learn to express themselves based on real-life situations. This course is taught in English and Arabic with an emphasis on developing Arabic for classroom communication.

Arabic II

1 credit; full year
Prerequisite: Arabic I or departmental recommendation

This course builds on the skills and knowledge acquired in Arabic I and continues to introduce students to the range of Arabic registers appropriate for the various modes of communication. Students in this course continue to develop their writing and reading strategies, while building increasingly complex structures. At this level, students speak about themselves with a high level of accuracy and begin expressing ideas and opinions that extend beyond their immediate surroundings and daily experience. Texts are supplemented with print, audio and multimedia material representative of contemporary Arabic culture. The class emphasizes a communicative approach, and students learn to express themselves based on real-life situations. This course is taught mostly in Arabic, and in English only when necessary.

Arabic III

1 credit; full year
Prerequisite: Arabic II or departmental recommendation

This course builds on the skills and knowledge acquired in Arabic II and continues to expose students to the phonology, script and syntax of situationally appropriate registers of Arabic. Through a variety of communicative activities, students continue to develop all four language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing), while also building their cultural awareness and ability to interact appropriately in Arab cultural contexts. The course focuses on building awareness around patterns in both informal and formal language registers for a range of expression across language skills and everyday situations. This course is conducted in Arabic.

Arabic IV

1 credit; full year
Prerequisite: Arabic III or departmental recommendation

This course is designed for students who have successfully completed Arabic III and would like to further their knowledge of Arabic and the Arabic-speaking world. The goals of this course are to further develop proficiency across the full range of language skills, advance critical thinking ability, and enhance cultural and global awareness. Students are expected to communicate in Arabic and to begin differentiating between formal and informal registers. In this course, language proficiency is interwoven with level-appropriate cultural studies. A variety of adapted and authentic materials support the linguistic and cultural goals of the course. The use of a variety of authentic materials acquaints students with a range of syntax, lexis and style in Arabic, and helps them to develop an authentic feel for the language. This class is conducted primarily in Arabic.

Chinese

Chinese I

1 credit; full year

This course introduces students to the Chinese language and immerses them in the culture of the Chinese-speaking world. The emphasis of the course is placed on mastering the pinyin Romanization system, developing skills for character writing, and acquiring basic sentence structures for daily communication. Units of study are developed around practical topics in daily lives, allowing the grammar to be learned in a meaningful, contextual environment. Through a variety of student-centered activities, lectures, videos, songs, the internet, and language-focused games, students learn the vocabulary, culture and grammar of Mandarin Chinese and begin to obtain initial communicative competence in the language. 

Chinese II

1 credit; full year
Prerequisite: Chinese I or departmental recommendation

Building on the skills acquired in Chinese I, this course introduces students to more complex sentence structures and idiomatic expressions. In addition to the pinyin Romanization system, students work extensively on the four-tone Mandarin phonetic system. Approximately 500 additional simplified characters are introduced for reading and writing. Cultural awareness continues with various supplemental materials, including cultural credits from the text. Short compositions are an integral part of the course in preparation for the next level of study. The class is conducted in Mandarin to the greatest degree possible to develop aural-oral competency.

Chinese III

1 credit; full year
Prerequisite: Chinese II or departmental recommendation

This course introduces student to more advanced grammatical structures and idiomatic expressions, while systematically reviewing previously studied materials. Oral proficiency continues to be stressed through situational dialogues and oral presentations. Cultural awareness is further developed through reading and discussing Chinese proverbs, adapted stories, and newspaper articles. Written compositions, such as pen pal letters, picture descriptions and short essays, are an integral part of this course. The class is conducted primarily in Mandarin except when complex grammar and idioms require clarification in English.

Chinese IV

1 credit; full year
Prerequisite: Chinese III or departmental recommendation

This course is designed for students who have successfully completed Chinese III or beyond and would like to further their knowledge of Chinese and the Chinese-speaking world. The goals of this course are to further develop proficiency across the full range of language skills, advance critical thinking ability, and enhance cultural and global awareness. In this course, language proficiency is interwoven with level-appropriate cultural studies. Instructional materials and activities are carefully and strategically adapted from authentic sources to support the linguistic and cultural goals of the course. This class is conducted primarily in Mandarin.

Chinese V

1 credit; full year
Prerequisite: Chinese IV or departmental recommendation

Chinese V provides a continuing language course for students not ready to enroll in AP Chinese Language and Culture. The goals of this course are to continue the development of proficiency across the full range of language skills, advance critical thinking ability, and enhance cultural and global awareness. In Chinese V, language proficiency is interwoven with level-appropriate cultural studies. Instructional materials and activities are carefully and strategically adapted from authentic sources, including poetry and other literature, to support the linguistic and cultural goals of the course. This class is conducted in Chinese.

AP Chinese Language and Culture

1 credit; full year
Prerequisite: Chinese IV or departmental recommendation

This course prepares students for the AP Chinese Language and Culture exam. The goal is to further develop overall language proficiency within a cultural framework, reflective of the richness of the Chinese language and culture. Through task-based communicative activities, students develop and refine their ability to speak and write in various settings, styles and registers. They are also expected to listen to a wide variety of adapted or authentic audio selections, and read a wide range of texts representing different genres. This class is conducted exclusively in Chinese. 

French

French I

1 credit; full year

This course introduces students to the French language and immerses them in the culture of the French-speaking world. It aims to develop students’ ability to communicate about themselves and their immediate environment using simple sentences containing basic language structures. Through a variety of communicative activities, and the use of adapted and authentic materials, students develop basic proficiency in all four language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. The class is conducted in French to the greatest degree possible to develop aural-oral competency.

French II

1 credit; full year
Prerequisite: French I or departmental recommendation

Building on the skills acquired in French I, this course introduces students to more complex sentence structure and idiomatic expression. Through a variety of communicative activities, students continue to develop proficiency in all four language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Core vocabulary and idiomatic structures are reviewed and expanded, aiming to consolidate students’ ability to conduct basic daily communication in real-life situations. Students are exposed to a variety of adapted and authentic materials on familiar topics, and produce short writing and spoken samples. This course is conducted mostly in French.

French III

1 credit; full year
Prerequisite: French II or departmental recommendation

This course builds on skills acquired in French I and II. Students continue to develop and refine their proficiency in all four language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing, with emphasis on the ability to interact when speaking and writing. Grammar and vocabulary are presented within the context of thematic units regarding personal and social life, aiming to develop students’ ability to comprehend the main ideas and identify significant details of the adapted or authentic materials that they read and hear. This course is conducted mostly in French.

French IV

1 credit; full year
Prerequisite: French III or departmental recommendation

This course is designed for students who would like to further their knowledge of French and the French-speaking world. The goals of this course are to further develop proficiency across the full range of language skills, advance critical thinking ability, and enhance cultural and global awareness. Students are expected to communicate in French using more complex language structures and express abstract ideas with reasonable fluency. In this course, language proficiency is interwoven with level-appropriate cultural studies. A variety of adapted and authentic materials support the linguistic and cultural goals of the course, and acquaints students with a range of syntax, lexis and style in French and helps them to develop an authentic feel for the language. This class is conducted primarily in French.

AP French Language

1 credit; full year
Prerequisite: French IV and departmental recommendation 

The aim of this course is to further develop overall language proficiency within a cultural framework, reflective of the richness and diversity of Francophone language and culture. Through task-based communicative activities, students develop and refine their ability to speak and write in various settings, styles and registers. Students listen and read extensively and are exposed to a variety of literary and journalistic styles through traditional and contemporary media. The study of topics of literary and contemporary interest, such as global challenges, contemporary life, personal identity, provides the basis for in- and outside class activities and assessments. Grammatical structures, new vocabulary and idiomatic expressions are embedded within the units. This course is conducted in French and prepares students for the AP French Language and Culture exam.

Advanced French: Literature

1 credit; full year
Prerequisite: AP French Language and departmental recommendation

This course takes the form of an exploration of identity through literary texts taken from the French-speaking world. It is designed to introduce students, who have advanced language skills, to the formal study of a representative body of literary texts (the essay, the novel, the play and poems) and to enable students to formulate and express critical opinions derived from close textual analysis. Class discussion, essay writing and the presentation of a final project, all in French, are crucial components of the course and are weighted accurately. Students enter this course with a high level of proficiency in French, and continue to develop their command of the language through reading, discussing and writing about literature. This course is conducted in French.

French V: Language and Culture through Film and Media

½ credit per semester; semesters I & II
Prerequisite: French IV, AP French Language or departmental recommendation

This course may be taken as a semester or yearlong course. Students who take the course during semester I must take it again in semester II to fulfill the language requirement for a full credit.

This course is designed for students who have successfully completed French IV or AP French Language and would like to further their knowledge of French and the French-speaking world. The goals of this course are to further develop proficiency across the full range of language skills, advance critical thinking ability, and enhance cultural and global awareness, and their understanding of contemporary French-speaking cultures. During this course, student-driven interest will help guide the exploration of themes related to culture, global issues and contemporary life in the French-speaking world, using various forms of media and film. Each semester approaches specific themes, such as the colonial experience, the Second World War, the search for the self, cultural diversity, exile, and others. Online newspapers, social media, and television are a few of the tools students use to explore these themes. Film, music, art and literature give voice to complex issues, help students connect with themes and events, and provide another avenue for analyzing and exploring cultural viewpoints. Students are expected to consolidate their language skills through discussion, debate and project-based assessment. This class is taught primarily in French.

Spanish

Spanish I

1 credit; full year

This course introduces students to the Spanish language and immerses them in the culture of the Spanish-speaking world. Grammar and vocabulary are introduced in a situational and cultural context, and reinforced with speaking, reading, listening and writing activities. Students acquire knowledge and skills in the domains of greetings and introductions, school life, pastimes, travel and shopping. Special attention is placed on language-learning strategies, and making connections across languages. Core vocabulary and idiomatic structures stress contemporary communication patterns and aim to provide basis for effective communication at the elementary level. The class is conducted in Spanish to the greatest degree possible to develop aural-oral competency.

Spanish II

1 credit; full year
Prerequisite: Spanish I or departmental recommendation

Building on the skills acquired in Spanish I, this course introduces students to more complex sentence structures and idiomatic expressions. Through a variety of communicative activities, students continue to develop proficiency in all four language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing, with emphasis on interpretation, interactions and presentation. Core vocabulary and idiomatic structures are reviewed and expanded upon, aiming to consolidate students’ ability to conduct basic daily communication in real-life situations. Students are also expected to read material on familiar topics and produce short writing samples. This course is conducted mostly in Spanish.

Spanish III

1 credit; full year
Prerequisite: Spanish II or departmental recommendation

This course builds on skills acquired in Spanish I and II. Students continue to develop and refine proficiency in all four language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing, with emphasis on the ability to interpret, interact and present orally and in writing. Grammar is presented within the context of thematic units regarding personal and social life, aiming to develop students’ ability to comprehend the main ideas and identify significant details of the adapted or authentic materials that they read and hear. This course is conducted mostly in Spanish.

Spanish IV

1 credit; full year
Prerequisite: Spanish III or departmental recommendation

This course is designed for students who would like to further their knowledge of Spanish and the Spanish-speaking world. The goals of this course are to further develop proficiency across the full range of language skills, advance critical thinking ability, and enhance cultural and global awareness. Students are expected to communicate in Spanish using more complex language structures and express abstract ideas with reasonable fluency. In this course, language proficiency is interwoven with level-appropriate cultural studies. A variety of adapted and authentic materials support the linguistic and cultural goals of the course, and acquaint students with a range of syntax, lexis and style in Spanish, and helps them to develop an authentic feel for the language. This class is conducted primarily in Spanish.

AP Spanish Language

1 credit; full year
Prerequisite: Spanish IV or Spanish IV Accelerated, and departmental recommendation

This course is for students who have demonstrated that they have acquired a thorough command of Spanish grammar and adequate vocabulary resources to communicate at an advanced level. This demanding course aims to enable students to understand spoken and written Spanish in a variety of contexts and to develop a high level of proficiency in oral and written expression in three modes of communication: interpretive, interpersonal and presentational. To this end, students listen and read extensively and are exposed to a variety of literary and journalistic styles through traditional and contemporary media. Advanced grammar topics are reviewed and idiomatic structures are stressed. Study of topics of literary and contemporary interest provides the basis for regular essay-writing and class discussion. All enrolled students are expected to take the AP Spanish Language and Culture exam. This course is conducted in Spanish.

AP Spanish Literature and Culture

1 credit; full year
Prerequisite: AP Spanish Language and departmental recommendation

This course uses a thematic approach to introduce students to representative texts (short stories, novels, poetry and essays) from Peninsular Spanish, Latin American, and United States Hispanic literature. Students continue to develop proficiencies across the full range of the modes of communication (interpersonal, presentational and interpretive), honing their critical reading and analytical writing skills. Literature is examined within the context of its time and place, as students reflect on the many voices and cultures present in the required readings. The course also includes a strong focus on cultural connections and comparisons, including exploration of various media (e.g., art, film, articles, and literary criticism).

Spanish V: Language and Culture Through Film and Media

½ credit per semester; semesters I & II
Prerequisite: Spanish IV/IVA, Spanish AP Language or departmental recommendation

This course may be taken as a semester or yearlong course. Students who take the course during semester I must take it again in semester II to fulfill the language requirements for a full credit.
 
This course is designed for students who have successfully completed Spanish IV, IVA or Spanish AP Language and would like to further their knowledge of Spanish and the Spanish-speaking world. The goals of this course are to further develop proficiency across the full range of language skills, advance critical thinking ability, and enhance cultural and global awareness, and their understanding of contemporary Spanish-speaking cultures. Student-driven interests help guide the exploration of themes related to culture, global issues and contemporary life in the Spanish-speaking world, using various forms of media and film. Online newspapers, social media and television are a few of the tools students use to explore these themes. Film, music, art and literature give voice to complex issues, help students connect with themes and events, and provide another avenue for analyzing and exploring cultural viewpoints. Students are expected to consolidate their language skills through discussion, debate and project-based assessment. This class is taught primarily in Spanish.

Not offered in 2019-20

Arabic V

1 credit; full year
Prerequisite: Arabic IV or departmental recommendation

The goals of this course are to continue the development of proficiency across the full range of language skills, advance critical thinking ability, and enhance cultural and global awareness. In Arabic V, language proficiency is interwoven with level-appropriate cultural studies. Instructional materials and activities are adapted carefully and strategically from authentic sources, including poetry and other literature, to support the linguistic and cultural goals of the course. Throughout the course, students develop language and understandings to support in-depth exploration of identities, and how they play into patterns of unity and diversity across the Arabic-speaking world. This class is conducted in Arabic.