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Noble and Greenough School is a rigorous academic community dedicated to inspiring leadership for the public good. Through mentoring relationships, we motivate students to achieve their highest potential and to lead lives characterized by service to others.

Modern Languages

Upper School Academics

Of the four major skills, speaking, listening, writing and reading, the department places the most emphasis on oral/aural communication. The philosophy behind this approach is to have students develop the skills necessary for global leadership and cultural understanding. Through the creation of authentic situations where students are allowed to speak freely and develop a natural fluidity, they acquire a level of oral competence which allows them to navigate their way through everyday interactions. The emphasis is therefore placed on proficiency rather than precision, mirroring the process of native language acquisition. Through constant speaking they gain a language competency by dint of the process itself.

Language instruction and the service mission of the school are complemented by overseas opportunities run both by the department and by outside organizations. Students have attended semester or year-long programs in China, Japan, France, Spain and Italy.

Language teachers in each of our modern languages run exchange programs with partner schools around the world. We travel to destinations and host visiting students in alternating years.

Our exchange programs:
Chinese: Beijing 57 High School in Beijing, China.
Japanese: Sapporo Intercultural and Technological High School in Sapporo, Japan.
French: Collège Jeu de Mail in Montpellier, France.
Spanish: Instituto El Greco in Toledo, Spain. 

 

French I | Full Year
Full Credit
Open to: All Students

French I is an introduction to the language and cultures of the French-speaking world.  Students will develop skills in listening, reading, writing, and most importantly, speaking the language with confidence.   This program presents a host of useful vocabulary for real-life situations, enriched by original sources in a variety of media.  

French II | Full Year
Full Credit
Open to: All Students
Prerequisites: French I or French A and French B

This course is a continuation of the basic skills introduced in French I. Students will expand their knowledge of basic grammar and further develop and deepen the speaking, listening, writing, and reading skills necessary for continued study in the language. Students will study Francophone cultures through selected short story readings, games, videos, oral presentations, and multi media projects.

French II Honors | Full Year
Full Credit
Prerequisites: French B, or French I and permission of the department

This course is an intensive, accelerated study of French II. Students are urged to develop levels of fluency and continue in the development of grammatical skills. Classes are oral-based and students are expected to make frequent presentations to the class and contributions to class discussion. They extend their knowledge of the Francophone world through writing assignments, the reading of a novel, other short readings and discussion.

French III | Full Year
Full Credit
Open to: Class I, II, III, IV
Prerequisites: French II

This course will continue to develop all of the skills previously studied in French I and II. Students will develop their level of fluency as they review and expand their knowledge of grammar with classes conducted in French. Students will read and discuss several short Francophone texts and will extend their knowledge through audiovisual material, oral presentations and multi media projects. This course completes the Modern Language requirement for graduation.

French III Honors | Full Year
Full Credit
Prerequisites: French II and permission of the department.

This course is an intensive, accelerated study of French III. Students will develop their level of oral proficiency by speaking exclusively in French while reviewing and expanding accelerated grammar structures. The students will read several Francophone texts, a novel and a play as they extend their knowledge of French-speaking countries through audiovisual materials, art, oral presentations, and multi media projects. Students will develop both creative and analytical writing skills. This course completes the Modern Language requirement for graduation.

French IV | Full Year
Full Credit
Open to: Class I, II
Prerequisites: French III

This course combines a gentle review of grammar with an introduction to literature, focusing primarily on short stories.  In addition, a great deal of emphasis is placed on current events in the Francophone world.  Oral presentations, short essays and projects ranging from the creation of impressionist art to WWII propaganda posters are also included. Students will expand their knowledge of French-speaking cultures through music, films and multi media projects.

French IV Honors | Full Year
Full Credit
Open to: Class I, II
Prerequisites: French III-H and permission of the department

This course continues to develop the skills that have been studied in the previous levels of French. Students will engage in a thorough review of complex grammar and nuanced vocabulary terms in order to speak more like native speakers as well as develop both their speaking and writing skills. Students will also read selected works from the 17th to the 21st centuries and watch films with the goal of a deeper understanding of Francophone culture and history. Students will be expected to practice their writing, speaking, and listening skills by communicating exclusively in French.

French V | Full Year
Full Credit
Open to: Class I, II
Prerequisites: French IV

This course continues a survey of modern Francophone literature and media, focusing on contemporary history and culture. Students will review vocabulary and grammar, as well as enhance their knowledge of French-speaking cultures through films, music, art, and multi-media projects. Oral presentations and analytical and creative writing are required, as well as extensive independent projects.

 

French V Honors | Full Year
Full Credit
Open to: Class I, II
Prerequisites: French IV-H and permission of the department

French VH will focus on oral fluency using literature, film, history and current events. Readings will include Voltaire's Candide, Flaubert's Madame Bovary and Pineau's Un Papillon dans la Cité. Films will include La Haine,  La Jetée, Amélie and a television mini-series, Disparue. Students will be evaluated based on their oral participation, various required presentations and short critical essay writing.

Spanish I | Full Year
Full Credit
Open to: Class I, II, III, IV
Prerequisites: Class V with permission of the department

Spanish I is an introduction to the language and cultures of the Spanish-speaking world.  Students will develop skills in listening, reading, writing, and most importantly, speaking the language with confidence.   This program presents a host of useful vocabulary for real-life situations, enriched by original sources in a variety of media. 

 

Spanish II | Full Year
Full Credit
Open to: Class I, II, III, IV
Prerequisites: Spanish I or Spanish B

This course is a continuation of the basic skills introduced in Spanish I. Students will expand their knowledge of basic grammar and further develop and deepen the speaking, listening, writing, and reading skills necessary for continued study in the language. Students will study Spanish culture through games, videos, oral presentations, and multi media projects.

 

Spanish II Honors | Full Year
Full Credit
Open to: Class I, II, III, IV
Prerequisites: Spanish B or Spanish 1 and permission of the department

This course is an intensive, accelerated study of Spanish II. Students are urged to develop levels of fluency and continue in the development of grammatical skills. Classes are oral-based and students are expected to make frequent presentations to the class and contributions to class discussion. They extend their knowledge of the Spanish world through writing assignments, the reading of a novel, other short readings and discussion.

 

Spanish III | Full Year
Full Credit
Open to: Class I, II, III
Prerequisites: Spanish II

This course will continue to develop all of the skills previously studied in Spanish I and II. Students will develop their level of fluency as they review and expand their knowledge of grammar with classes conducted in Spanish. Students will also deepen their knowledge of social and global issues. Students will read and discuss several short Spanish texts and will extend their knowledge through audiovisual material, oral presentations and multi media projects. This course completes the Modern Language requirement for graduation.

Spanish III Honors | Full Year
Full Credit
Open to: Class I, II, III
Prerequisites: Spanish II-H with permission of the Department

Spanish III Honors is an intensive and expanded study of Spanish III, covering vocabulary acquisition and grammar with a strong emphasis on oral proficiency. Students develop their level of oral proficiency by speaking exclusively in Spanish while reviewing and adding to accelerated grammar structures. Throughout the year, the students read selected short stories by Spanish and Latin American authors. Also, they investigate and discuss current themes in Spanish-speaking countries, demonstrating their comprehension through projects and presentations. Finally, the students focus on developing greater sophistication in their writing through a number of varied forms.This course completes the Modern Language requirement for graduation.

Spanish IV | Full Year
Open to: Class I, II
Prerequisites: Spanish III

This course continues to develop the skills that have been studied in the previous levels of Spanish. Students will complete a gentle review of grammar in order to improve their speaking and writing skills and integrate what they've learned in the previous years. Students will be exposed to readings, movies and other media from Spanish-speaking countries. The themes from these selections will form the basis of class discussions, projects and short stories and essays. This course will emphasize speaking.

Spanish IV Honors | Full Year
Full Credit
Open to: Class I, II
Prerequisites: Spanish III-H or permission of the department

This course continues to develop the skills that have been studied in the previous levels of Spanish. Students will engage in a thorough review of complex grammar and nuanced vocabulary terms in order to speak more like native speakers as well as develop both their speaking and writing skills. Students will also read selected works from the 17th to the 21st centuries and watch films with the goal of a deeper understanding of Spanish-speaking culture and history. Students will be expected to practice their writing, speaking, and listening skills by communicating exclusively in Spanish.

Spanish V | Full Year
Full Credit
Open to: Class I, II
Prerequisites: Spanish IV

Spanish V continues to work on reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills with an emphasis on improving oral communication. Cinema is the foundation of this course and will serve as an introduction to the culture and history of Spain and Latin America. The themes and ideas of the films and stories studied will be reviewed through class discussions, debates, projects and presentations.

Spanish V Honors | Full Year
Full Credit
Open to: I, II
Prerequisites: Spanish IV-H, or permission of the department

Spanish V Honors will focus on conversation fluency while sharpening grammar skills and expanding vocabulary. From caballeros to conquistadores to criollos, the Spanish have a flair for both noble and ignoble pursuits. Tracing the adventurous spirit as evinced in novels of chivalry, the work of Cervantes, diaries of discoveries, and testimonies of cultures in contact, students will come to understand what motivated the era of discovery, the riches it brought, the destruction it wrought, and the synthesis of societies that we find today in Latin America. Students will continue their journey through Central and South America, exploring the development of language, culture, literature, film and current events from the South American Spanish-speaking countries. Sources will include current media as well as works of literature, music and the visual arts.

 

Japanese III | Full Year
Full Credit
Prerequisites: Permission of the department

Japanese III continues to develop students' proficiency in Japanese. They will expand their communication skills and develop greater ease and range of expression both in speaking and writing. In addition, students will acquire an active knowledge of approximately 100 kanji (cumulative). Cultural studies, research projects, community-based activities, and multimedia materials  are integrated in the curriculum. This course completes the Modern Language requirement for graduation.

Japanese IV | Full Year
Full Credit
Prerequisites: Japanese III

In Japanese IV, students will learn to construct logical and cohesive paragraphs using more complex structures. They will continue to develop communication skills and gain greater ease and a range of expressions both in speaking and writing. In addition, they will expand kanji knowledge for both productive and receptive usages, which enhances vocabulary learning. Students will also deepen their understanding of Japanese culture and people through project-based activities, online resources, and exchanges with native speakers.

Japanese V | Full Year
Full Credit
Prerequisites: Japanese IV

Japanese V is designed to further develop students’ communication skills through project-based activities while introducing more advanced grammar and vocabulary in various contexts. Semi-authentic materials will be regularly used to develop listening and reading strategies. Students will engage in discussions on cultural and contemporary issues, oral and written presentations, and ongoing journal writing throughout the course. Extensive work on kanji radicals and cyclical study will provide students with confidence and a thorough understanding of the character system and prepare them for future study.

Advanced Placement (AP) Japanese Language and Culture | Full Year
Full Credit
Prerequisites: Japanese V or permission of the department

This course will provide individual students with opportunities to reach the highest level of achievement through personalized instruction. Students will sharpen their communication skills in interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational modes as they broaden perspectives on cultural values and develop critical thinking skills. Diverse materials and topics from media and literature are used for students to acquire advanced grammar, expand vocabulary and kanji, and develop strategies for accessing authentic language. Note: selected students will be recommended to take the AP exam at the end of the third quarter.

Chinese I | Full Year
Full Credit
Open to: Class I, II, III, IV, V, VI

Chinese I is an introductory-level course designed to orient the beginning student properly within the Chinese language by introducing fundamental syntactical constructions along with basic vocabulary. We will also be promoting cognitive association between concepts and Chinese characters through character practice and study, and by facilitating culture-based learning. Emphasis is placed on pronunciation and listening skills. Students will encounter various aspects of Chinese language and culture through projects and cultural activities.

Chinese II | Full Year
Full Credit
Prerequisites: Chinese I

Chinese II is a course intended to build upon and diversify the curriculum of Chinese I. The course introduces more Chinese characters as students broaden their range of vocabulary. Students will build up writing and reading skills along with practice listening and speaking. They will be required to produce more handwritten and typed compositions. The course continues to promote culture-based learning, with students delving deeply into Chinese culture through presentations, discussions and hands-on activities.

Chinese III | Full Year
Full Credit
Prerequisites: Chinese II

Chinese III continues to develop students’ proficiency in Chinese. Communication skills are stressed while there is an ongoing integration of culture and multi media presentations. Students learn to write more characters and they are challenged with more spontaneous and authentic speaking situations through oral presentation and culture activities. This course finishes the foundational Chinese vocabulary and grammar. This course completes the Modern Language requirement for graduation.

Chinese IV | Full Year
Full Credit
Prerequisites: Chinese III

Chinese IV continues to engage students in a variety of authentic and spontaneous conversations. Students also solidify their understanding of more complex grammar patterns and vocabulary through reading, multi media presentations and projects. More cultural topics will be introduced and incorporated through daily discussions, watching Chinese movies, and reflection writing.

Chinese V | Full Year
Full Credit
Prerequisites: Chinese IV

Chinese V focuses on expanding vocabulary and practicing the usage of grammar patterns through audio files, movies, projects, daily discussion, reading and writing. Topics will mainly relate to high school and college students’ lives and will also extend to the comparison with Chinese culture. Students will gain oral and aural proficiency as well as advanced reading and writing skills throughout the year.

Chinese VI | Full Year
Full Credit
Prerequisites: Chinese V or permission of the department

Chinese VI will provide individual students with opportunities to reach the highest level of achievement through personalized instructions. Topics will mainly relate to Chinese geography, history, culture, and modern society. Through discussions, movies, projects, literatures, debates and presentations, students will sharpen their communication skills and develop strategies for accessing authentic language. 

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