In keeping with our mission, the World Languages Department seeks to educate the whole person, and inspire students to honor the diversity that enriches both our school community and the world beyond St. John's. A large part of this holistic education is teaching students to communicate effectively, an important skill in our interdependent, multicultural world (course descriptions follow).
Students learn to express themselves confidently in the language they choose to study (German, Chinese, Latin, Spanish) and develop an appreciation for its culture and people. We follow the national Standards for Foreign Language Learning, referred to as the 5 Cs: Communication, Culture, Connection, Comparison, and Community.
Sixth grade students sample all four languages offered at the High School level. Seventh grade students begin a two-year course in the language of their choice with the goal of being prepared for level 2 language as a ninth grader at St. John’s Prep.
Inspired by the question, “Who am I?”, this special interdisciplinary Latin/religious studies course focuses on the student’s discovery and exploration of the mystery of God in his own life. In response to the profound Catholic Christian faith story of the humanity and divinity of Jesus Christ, students examine sacred scripture, nurture critical thinking skills, engage in prayerful reflection, and delve into the art of storytelling to inspire their own personal faith exploration. Throughout the course, students will: (1) examine the distinction between “history book history” and “faith history,” and in doing so will be encouraged to recognize and celebrate their own growing faith history; (2) explore the development of ancient languages, most notably as they communicate, and contribute to our understanding of, faith history; (3) examine the diverse social, cultural and religious conditions that gave rise to the historical figure of Jesus of Nazareth; and (4) be challenged to consider and respond to the profound Christian belief in Jesus Christ as the Divine Son of God. Throughout this journey of thought and faith, the diversity of each student’s religious background is celebrated and understood to enhance all religious experience.
Students in grade 8 read more extensive and increasingly elaborate selections of Latin prose. While students in grade 7 focused their attention on the grammar of individual words, short phrases and simple sentences, students in grade 8 read and compose complex sentences with subordinate clauses, stylistic nuance and sophisticated vocabulary. As students are exposed to a larger corpus of more refined Latin words, their English vocabulary flourishes, preparing them for scholarly and creative communication in high school, college and beyond. The historical setting for the first half of the year is the multicultural city of Alexandria, widening the students’ perspective beyond the Italian peninsula and inviting comparison and contrast with our own society. From there, students travel to Roman Britain, spurring them to further consider the deep connection between the spread of Roman society and the Latin language throughout Europe and its subsequent prevalence in modern-day America.
The Grade 7 Mandarin Chinese is a course designed to provide students with the natural acquisition process for meaningful communication in Chinese. The program emphasizes pronunciation, vocabulary and a range of grammar patterns in order to develop written and spoken communication. Basic Chinese character writing skills which involves strokes in all four directions will be developed and practiced in class. Students will practice spoken Chinese in various communication activities which are complemented by intensive drills to fine-tune pronunciation, expand vocabulary, and internalize grammatical constructions. Students will focus on language acquisition standards in five areas: communication, cultures, connections, comparisons and communities (the 5 Cs of language learning). Students could become more fluent and confident speakers in expressing themselves in Mandarin Chinese, and develop an appreciation for Chinese culture and people.
The study of Chinese in grade 8 further develops language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing and content of the grade 7 experience. In this course, students are required to comprehend and produce paragraph-level Chinese. Students participate in rigorous practice of spoken and written Chinese in complex communicative activities. Continuing with the 5 Cs of language standards ( communication, cultures, connections, comparisons and communities ) from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), students will focus on an in-depth study of vocabulary, pronunciation and grammatical structures in order to reach intermediate stages of written and spoken communication. Students also learn a variety of Chinese cultural topics such as: the history of China; Chinese paintings and calligraphy; Chinese customs and traditions; Chinese food, festivals, and other interesting Chinese features of culture and history.
Proficiency in Spanish, along with an understanding of the values of Spanish-speaking cultures, enables students to participate actively in the global community of the 21st century. The study of Spanish in grades 6, 7 and 8 will develop skills in the five basic competencies of language learning: listening, speaking, reading, writing, and cultural awareness. Through classroom interaction in Spanish, students become prepared for high school level classes. Students learn how to communicate orally and in writing about familiar topics such as self, school, food, pastimes, family, the house, and clothing. Vocabulary and basic grammatical structures are taught within the context of everyday topics. Culture is embedded in the course and related directly to the topics studied.
In this exploratory Spanish class, students learn topics such as the alphabet, calendar, cognates, classroom objects and school subjects, commands, numbers, colors, greetings, and a basic understanding of Spanish-speaking cultures.
The study of Spanish in grade 7 develops a student’s understanding of the basic structures of the language and the cultures of the Spanish-speaking world. Through the use of the basic standards of language acquisition set forth by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), the students focus on the Hispanic world by understanding the 5 Cs of language learning; communication, cultures, connections, comparisons and communities. The program emphasizes vocabulary, pronunciation, and simple grammatical structures in order to develop the beginning stages of written and spoken communication. Language-specific study skills are introduced to facilitate the learning process. As students embark on their study of the Spanish language, they gain an appreciation of Spanish-speaking countries and their unique cultures and customs.
The study of Spanish in grade 8 further develops the students’ language learning skills and builds upon the grade 7 experience. The students focus on the Hispanic world by understanding the 5 Cs of language learning set forth by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL); communication, cultures, connections, comparisons and communities. Vocabulary and grammatical structures are introduced by theme, using authentic learning materials. Students are engaged in the language and culture of the Hispanic world by incorporating the practice of interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational communication (spoken and written).