Upper School Curriculum

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World Language

Three years of French, Mandarin, or Spanish are required for graduation, with multiple course offerings at the advanced levels. Appropriate placement is determined through a faculty interview, writing samples, and the student’s prior experience. With approval, students may study more than one language. Advanced and elective courses are dependent upon faculty expertise; thus, the following course descriptions are subject to change and variation.
  • French 1

    This course is an introduction to French for Upper School students; no prior experience with French is required. The course emphasizes the development of speaking and listening comprehension skills, while secondarily developing reading comprehension and writing skills. Students develop proficiency in listening and speaking and learn the basic vocabulary structures and expressions for everyday communication. Thematic units based on literature enhance the course.
  • French 2

    Prerequisite: successful completion of French 1 or its equivalent

    Oral skills, reading comprehension, and writing abilities continue to be developed using the same methods and activities used in French 1. Students expand their knowledge of vocabulary and language structure, and spend time focusing on verb tenses, with the goal of conversing and acquiring the cultural awareness needed to interact in social and work situations. Cultural authenticity is enhanced through viewing the téléroman Le Secret de la Statuette. Students gain fluency in reading with La terre est ronde and Le souvenir d’Égypte.
  • French 3

    Prerequisite: successful completion of French 2 or its equivalent

    This course enables students to communicate in French with a high degree of proficiency, using more complex structures and more expressive language. Class discussion and assignments such as reading authentic French texts, expository writing, and oral presentations further develop student proficiency in all skills and competencies. Students acquire more verb tenses and explore the subjunctive mood. Cultural authenticity is enhanced by viewing the téléroman Camille et Compagnie. Students gain reading fluency with La tulipe noire and Le fantôme de l’opéra.
  • French 4

    Prerequisite: strong completion of French 3 or its equivalent

    This course will review essential structures in further detail, improve speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills in French. Upon successful completion, students will be able to comprehend spoken French with sufficient ability to grasp the main idea and some supporting details in short conversations and speak French well enough to have short conversations with native speakers. They will read and understand selections of texts taken from a variety of genres and write more complex sentences and paragraphs varying in length on familiar topics; this will culminate in developing a written portfolio.
  • Advanced French 4

    Prerequisite: strong completion of French 3 or its equivalent

    This course focuses on the continued development and refinement of reading, writing, and oral skills. Students read Marcellin Caillou by Jean-Jacques and Sempé and Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Essays, creative pieces, poems, and short reports comprise the writing portfolio. Additional content is based in proficiency with real-life skills through the lens of an imagined move to France; students navigate through situations such as going through customs at the airport, staying at a hotel, renting an apartment, looking for a job, creating a resumé and cover letter, and finally interviewing for and receiving a job offer. The course reviews and reinforces prior material and introduces more advanced grammatical concepts to support the content. An emphasis is placed on speaking proficiency through in-depth discussion and presentation. Advanced students move through the material at a faster pace.
  • Advanced French 5: Cinema and Literature

    Prerequisite: strong completion of French 4 or its equivalent

    This course will combine the study of francophone literature with the study of francophone cinema. Each film viewed will be followed by reading the text that was the source for the film. Discussion of both texts and films will include annotating, quick writes, literary analysis, and film criticism. Students will be asked to write an essay on each text, a critique of each film and a comparison of film and text. Works will be chosen from a variety of writers and filmmakers working in the French language. Independent project: For the first semester, each student will choose a text to read independently. For the second semester, each student will independently view the film based on the work they chose. Students will have on-going one-on-one consultations with the teacher as they do their independent work.
  • Advanced French 5: Literature and Culture—18th and 19th Centuries

    Prerequisite: strong completion of French 4 or its equivalent

    This course begins in 18th-century France, with the events leading up to and including the French Revolution. It concludes in the 19th century, with the reading of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. Students have an opportunity to examine key works of literature as they gain an understanding of what life was like in France during the period of time that produced them. They are given a complete picture of the achievements of the period as they study the arts (architecture and painting, furniture styles and decoration, and fashion), science and industry, and cuisine. Students broaden their writing skills through textual analysis, with an eye to sharpening supporting grammatical skills and gaining additional spoken proficiency. An expansion of students’ vocabulary base facilitates writing, discussion, and advanced conversational skills. Online explorations allow students to connect with a wide range of materials and places. Projects include research and presentations.
  • Advanced French 5: 21st-Century Topics in Francophone Cultures

    Prerequisite: strong completion of French 4 or its equivalent

    This course is organized around six thematic units: global challenges; beauty and aesthetics; family and community; public and private identities; science and technology; and contemporary life. Each topic begins with a series of essential questions that guide the discussions, readings, and written work. For each topic, students study a glossary of terms, read, and discuss a variety of authentic texts, listen to authentic audio sources for oral comprehension, and write an essay. Each unit includes a large-scale project or several smaller projects. Students also read a novel during each semester.
  • Advanced French 5: Literature and Culture—18th & 19th Centuries

    Prerequisite: Strong completion of French 4 or its equivalent.
    This course begins in 18th-century France, with the events leading up to and including the French Revolution. It concludes in the 19th century, with the reading of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. Students have an opportunity to examine key works of literature as they gain an understanding of what life was like in France during the period of time that produced them. They are given a complete picture of the achievements of the period as they study the arts (architecture and painting, furniture styles and decoration, and fashion), science and industry, and cuisine. Students broaden their writing skills through textual analysis, with an eye to sharpening supporting grammatical skills and gaining additional spoken proficiency. An expansion of students’ vocabulary base facilitates writing, discussion, and advanced conversational skills. Online explorations allow students to connect with a wide range of materials and places. Projects include research and presentations.
  • Advanced French 5: French Arts and Culture

    Prerequisite: strong completion of French 4 or its equivalent

    Modeled after the French histoire des arts program, this survey course identifies seven different arts and demonstrates how they developed within the historic timeline of Western Europe. The arts are:

    * Art de l’Espace: Architecture & Sculpture  *Art du Langage: Literature *  Art du Quotidien: Fine Arts, Furniture & Jewelry *  Art du Son: Music & Song *  Art du Spectacle Vivant: Theatre & Dance *  Arts Visuels: Drawing, Painting, Sculpture, Cinema & Photography *  Art du Goût et de l’Odorat: Taste & Scent, Food & Fragrance
     
    Students learn to observe, compare and contrast, analyze, and reflect upon the variety of art forms, using their target language as the basis for all discussion and writing. The aim of this course is to develop sophistication of language as it pertains to the course content, as well as an awareness and appreciation of the development of these art forms over time. The course provides an advanced level of challenge in the language through regularly assigned research project presentations, analysis, and reflection papers, and through reviews of visits to exhibits and galleries.
  • Mandarin 1

    This course in Chinese language and culture emphasizes all four language skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking through a variety of classroom activities. Students acquire vocabulary and grammatical structures, including words, expressions, idioms, and language. This enables them to engage in basic conversations about topics, including themselves (and their identity), their family, friends, school, pastimes, and the larger world. Culture is an essential part of learning a language. We celebrate various Chinese holidays through in-school cooking activities and, through field trips and other activities, provide students with out-of-school opportunities to engage with Chinese-speaking communities.
  • Mandarin 2

    Prerequisite: strong completion of Mandarin 1 or its equivalent

    In this intermediate level course, students expand their vocabulary for basic conversation and their knowledge of characters that correspond to new vocabulary. Students also become familiar with new conversational topics relevant to everyday life and complex grammatical structures that permit expression of more intricate ideas—both in speech and in writing. Students begin to read original texts and essays in Chinese and become competent in writing simplified characters.
  • Mandarin 3

    Prerequisite: strong completion of Mandarin 2 or its equivalent

    This course is conducted mostly in Chinese to support the development of students’ listening and speaking skills. This course also helps students to build both linguistic and communicative competence in Mandarin Chinese through reading and writing. Besides textbooks, authentic Mandarin texts, essays, short stories, and online resources will be introduced. Culture study is also an important part of the curriculum. We continue to celebrate Chinese holidays by providing students with out-of-school field trips and other activities.
  • Mandarin 4

    Prerequisite: strong completion of Mandarin 3 or its equivalent

    This course is a continuation of Mandarin 3 and is intended to develop the four communication skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Students will focus on language proficiency while dealing with level- and age-appropriate cultural content. Students will engage in conversations, readings, composition, and research projects. The expectation is that all communication in the classroom will take place in the target language. Cultural topics focus on the history of the Chinese language and culture, lifestyle in China, and current events. By the end of the year, students will be able to understand the spoken language in formal settings (lectures, news, etc.) and in casual settings (conversations, dialogue, etc.). Students will be able to acquire vocabulary and structures that enable them to understand and analyze contextualized materials (advertisement, posters, newspapers, magazine articles, emails, and letters.). This course prepares students for college-level Chinese programs.
  • Spanish 1

    This course is designed for students who are new to Spanish or who have had exposure to learning a second language,  but need to fine-tune their skills to meet the course expectations for Spanish 2. Speaking and listening comprehension skills are emphasized, and students develop proficiency in all areas of the language by reviewing and expanding upon basic vocabulary and grammar structures. The course presents specific thematic units that are based on Latin American countries; this enhances cultural awareness, along with communicative skills and grammar. The textbook Español Santillana High School 2 offers the integration of culture into the units. Each unit presents different cultural elements of the country of focus, along with a selection of communicative and grammatical subjects.
  • Spanish 2

    Prerequisite: strong completion of Spanish 1 or its equivalent

    In Spanish 2, students continue to build on the proficiency skills learned in Spanish 1. Thematic units (such as celebrations, heroic acts, and popular culture) are based on the text Realidades 2. Cultural readings enhance the course and enable students to explore various aspects of life in the Spanish-speaking world. Students hone their language skills through a variety of activities, including paired and small-group speaking, skits, projects, and presentations.
  • Spanish 3

    Prerequisite: strong completion of Spanish 2 or its equivalent

    A detailed review of the material in the first two levels is followed by an introduction to the formation and uses of the subjunctive mood. Students strengthen their written and oral communication skills by building vocabulary and idiomatic expressions. Readings include poems, essays, articles, and short stories. The literature stimulates interest in the language and provides cultural information about Spanish-speaking countries. Written work may include creating a brochure, writing a newspaper article, compositions, different endings to stories, and other creative work.
  • Spanish 4

    Prerequisite: strong completion of Spanish 3 or its equivalent

    This course is designed for students who are ready to meet a deeper analysis of Hispanic culture and language. The course, which uses the textbook Imagina Intermediate, presents opportunities for analysis and understanding of the Spanish language and Hispanic culture, but it is also based on creativity and language production. This curriculum focuses on the issues of diversity and inclusion, social justice, and appreciation and respect for different cultures. Such topics allow an organic language acquisition through analysis and questioning, rather than memorization and repetition. To prompt conversation and analysis, the course is divided into thematic units; every unit starts with a short film or a short-written piece (short story, article, etc.) related to the unit topic. We explore inquiry-based learning and experience how far we can go with the language skills students have at this level. The course also integrates technology, including student blogs (edublogs.org) and voice recording assignments (Google Voice), as well as Quizlet, Haiku, and other useful teaching/learning tools.
  • Spanish 4 Advanced

    Prerequisite: strong completion of Spanish 3 or its equivalent

    This course, which uses the textbook Imagina Intermediate, presents opportunities for analysis and understanding of the Spanish language and Hispanic culture, but it is also based on creativity and language production. This new curriculum focuses on issues of diversity and inclusion, social justice, and appreciation and respect for different cultures. Such topics allow an organic language acquisition through analysis and questioning, rather than through memorization and repetition. The course is divided into thematic units. To prompt conversation and analysis, every unit starts with a short film or a short- written piece that relates to the unit topic. We explore inquiry-based learning and experience how far we can go with the language skills students have acquired. The course also integrates technology, including student blogs (edublogs.org) and voice recording assignments (Google Voice), as well as Quizlet, Haiku, and other useful teaching/learning tools.
  • Spanish 5: 21st-Century Issues

    Prerequisite: strong completion of Spanish 4 or its equivalent

    This course’s goal is to improve proficiency in reading, writing, speaking, and listening comprehension in Spanish through the study of the following thematic units: Global Challenges, Beauty & Aesthetics, Families & Communities, Personal & Public Identities, and Science & Technology. With each unit, students review and expand their vocabulary on that topic; they also expand their knowledge with necessary grammatical concepts that relate to each topic. Activities include reading, watching video clips, researching, completing projects, listening to guest speakers, giving oral presentations, writing essays and original poems, completing online exercises, role playing, watching video clips, and more
  • Spanish 5 Advanced: Arts and Culture of Latin America and Spain

    Prerequisite: strong completion of Spanish 4 Advanced

    This course aims to nurture understanding of cultural diversity and identify the range of different societies coexisting in the Spanish-speaking world. It is designed for students at an advanced level who are ready to encounter a deeper analysis of Spanish language and cultures. Students expand their understanding of contemporary Latin America and Spain. We explore economic and social development, ethnic and racial identity, dictatorships and democracy, transitional justice and human rights, and cultural processes. We study and analyze these topics through diverse artistic expressions, such as literature, cinema, and the performing and visual arts. The class questions society’s preconceptions, and challenges stereotypes about Hispanic countries.
  • Spanish 5 Advanced: Latin American Literary Boom

    Prerequisite: strong completion of Spanish 4 Advanced

    In this course, students gain a clear understanding of Latin American heritage and cultural dynamics. The course explores social and cultural processes through the literary works of some of the most important writers of Latin America: Mario Benedetti, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, José Donoso, Carlos Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa, Gabriel García Márquez, and others. The course also investigates Latin American poetry and other nontraditional literary expressions, such as Spanish comics. This course is based on analysis and understanding of the Spanish language and Hispanic literature, as well as creativity and language production. Students consistently practice their writing and oral skills, as well as their reading skills. The course covers common language codes used by the Latin American Boom writers; elements of literary analysis to allow for a deeper understanding of Latin American modernism; and social and cultural aspects of the countries and cities where the stories take place—considering elements such as arts, fashion, music, politics, and lifestyles.
  • Spanish 5 Advanced: Women Voices in Hispanic Arts

    Prerequisite: strong completion of Spanish 4 Advanced

    This advanced course will explore the role of women as creators in different art forms. In the 20th century Latin American women and Latina artists have actively shaped the artistic languages of their time. Nevertheless, in the art historical accounts and exhibitions that have served as the major references in the field, men are portrayed as the configurers of art history. We will us Cecilia Fajardo-Hill’s publication The Invisibility of Latin American Women Artists: Problematizing Art Historical and Curatorial Practices and cover these topics:

    ● Women in cinema
    ● Invisibility of women writers during the Latin American Boom (including Alejandra Pizarnik, the Argentine poet)
    ● Frida is not a “fashion item”!: her transforming role in arts and politics beyond today’s pop icon
    ● Feminist Movements in Latin America: reshaping history one day at the time (Ni una Menos movement, Las Thesis).
    ● Feminism and the Arts: the new faces of the avant garde in Latin America and Spain. Topics covered include urban art, filmmaking, and “new poetry.”

Faculty

  • Photo of Eva Burgoyne
    Eva Burgoyne
    World Language Teacher
    Bio
  • Photo of Bernadette Draillard
    Bernadette Draillard
    Upper School, French Teacher and Advisor
    (212) 426-3360
  • Photo of Xiaomo Hong
    Xiaomo Hong
    Upper School, Mandarin Teacher
    Bio
  • Photo of Blanca Llaurado
    Blanca Llaurado
    Upper School, Spanish Teacher and Advisor
    (212) 426-3360
    Bio
  • Photo of Beatriz Rodriguez
    Beatriz Rodriguez
    Upper School, Spanish Teacher & Advisor
    Bio
  • Photo of Laura Spalding
    Laura Spalding
    Upper School, Spanish Teacher and Advisor and World Language Department Chair
    (212) 426-3300
  • Photo of Joseph Ulitto
    Joseph Ulitto
    Upper School, French Teacher and Advisor and Director of DEI Student Programing and Affinity Groups
    Bio
  • Photo of Jorge Valdiriz
    Jorge Valdiriz
    Upper School, Spanish Teacher and Advisor
    Bio
Ambitious academics.  Engaged students.  Balanced lives.

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