Modern Languages Courses


The study of modern languages opens doors to a greater understanding of the world and its cultures. Language study can broaden students’ global view and provide unique opportunities at Milton and beyond. We hope students will achieve a level of proficiency that enables them to use the language to communicate and to appreciate different ways of seeing the world. The diploma requirement is met by successful completion of a Milton Academy level 3 course. We encourage students to continue their studies beyond the level 3 requirement since the courses offered at level 4 and above provide special opportunities to examine the culture in depth through literature, art, film, history and current events.

The modern language department offers classes that support a wide variety of students’ abilities and areas of interest. To merit placement in Honors, Accelerated or Advanced Placement levels, students must have an exceptional ability, a record of outstanding performance, and a demonstrated passion for language learning.

Note: A student who enters in Class II and does not qualify to enter at least Level 2 in a language offered at Milton will be placed in a foreign language at the level that is most appropriate for the student’s growth and development and will be expected to take two years of that language (ancient or modern).


French 1
This course provides an introduction to French through essential grammatical structures, idiomatic expressions and everyday vocabulary. Students use French in skits, dialogues, and oral and written presentations. Students learn to express themselves in real life situations. They also learn about various French-speaking cultures through activities, songs, art and short stories.

French 1P (Prior Study)
This course is intended for students who have previously studied French but who need to strengthen their foundational language skills before taking French 2. This course has the same objectives as French 1 but allows for a greater depth and variety of activities, given the students’ previous experience with the language and culture.

French 2
For students who have completed French B, French 1 or French 1P, this course continues to develop oral and written command of all basic structures in French and introduces the reading of short books such as Le Petit Nicolas and Le Petit Prince. Many other cultural readings, projects and audio-visual materials connect students to various aspects of daily life in France and in the French-speaking world.

French 2 (Honors)
The goal of French 2 Honors is to continue to develop oral and written command beyond basic structures in French and to inspire integrated and creative use of the language. Students continue to acquire grammar skills and vocabulary through readings such as Le Petit Prince and short stories by Le Clezio and Anne Gavalda. In this course students will start with an introduction to reading to advance to literary analysis. Great emphasis will be placed upon communicating accurately and effectively in the four modalities: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Students will expand their knowledge and deepen their cultural understanding and sensitivity. Placement is at the discretion of the department.

French 3
This course continues to develop the requisite skills of this level in speaking, listening, reading and writing. It makes use of authentic sources such as film, art, songs and media. Literature is introduced through readings by authors such as Maupassant and Le Clézio. French 3 includes a systematic review of grammar and practice of the language through frequent writing assignments, speaking practice, and discussion of cultural and current events.

French 3 (Honors)
This course provides a rapid expansion of vocabulary and grammar through reading and writing. Students will be asked to write compositions of increasing complexity. Students continue to strengthen oral skills through activities ranging from review of current events to literary discussions. Reading skills are developed through an introduction to classical and modern authors such as Molière, La Fontaine, Maupassant and Le Clézio. Placement is at the discretion of the department.

French 4: Topics in Contemporary Culture and Literature
In French 4, students embark on a journey into contemporary French culture and literature while strengthening their language skills. Students will study grammar and vocabulary in context and practice using French through a variety of oral and written activities. French 4 gives students all the necessary linguistic tools to analyze works of literature, to articulate their opinion on current events, and to review films. Among the materials included in this course are the play Huis Clos by Jean-Paul Sartre, No et Moi by Delphine de Vigan, and several short stories from contemporary French authors. These works are the base of a much broader exploration of the French culture through the use of different media.

French 4 (AP): Language and Literature
Both a language and a literature course, French 4 (AP) further develops speaking, reading and writing skills to a more advanced level while preparing students for the French AP language exam. Students will study grammar and vocabulary in context and practice using French through a variety of oral and written activities. Students will achieve greater fluency in their analyses of cultural topics, literary texts, cinema and other media. Reading materials included in this course are Née en France by Aicha Benaissa, the play Huis Clos by Jean-Paul Sartre, Les Français by Lawrence Wylie, and poems by Prévert and Rimbaud. Students will also study movies by Laurent Cantet and Eric Zonka. Placement is at the discretion of the department.

French 5 (Honors): A Further Exploration of Literature
This course is intended for students who have completed the AP language program and who have expressed an appreciation of French literature in previous courses. Covering classic writings—from the poetry of Baudelaire to contemporary works of French speaking authors from Africa and the Caribbean—this course aims to refine the skills that are essential to enjoying and studying literature at an advanced level. This course prepares students for the study of French at the college level and, specifically, the college-level technique of close literary analysis. Placement is at the discretion of the department.

French 5: The Francophone World
(Semester 1)
Focusing primarily on the French Caribbean and the island of Haiti, a country that has strong ties with French history, language and culture, this course allows students to continue to improve their language skills while developing an understanding of the Francophone world. Students will have an opportunity to interact with members of the local Haitian community through visits from guest speakers, site visits, and service learning trips. Ultimately, students will venture out of the classroom and establish a relationship with Boston’s Haitian community. By doing so, students will not only discover that they can use their French only a few miles from Milton Academy, but they will also get to know, through hands on projects, the work of the Haitian local non-profits in the Boston area. Throughout the course, students will learn to analyze and discuss the culture of Haiti and its diaspora in relationship to Haitian and French history, socio-linguistics, and politics. Materials, entirely in French, will include online articles, essays, documentary films, oral/audio folk tales, feature films, works of art, songs, and excerpts from major literary works by French Caribbean authors such as Raphael Confiant, Simone Schwarz-bart, Patrick Chamoiseau, Maryse Conde, Aime Cesaire and Edwidge Danticat. (Open to students who have completed French 4 (AP), French 4, or with permission from the department.)

French 5: Twentieth-Century France Through Its Cinema
(Semester 2)
This course focuses on the issues of coming of age and living in French society as seen through the eyes of major French and Francophone directors ranging from Francois Truffaut to Cédric Klapish. The course also looks at cinema as a language of its own, starting with early silent movies by the Lumière Brothers and culminating with the experimental technique of directors such as Claire Denis. Students taking this course will become familiar with the French attitude toward what is called the “Seventh Art.” They will also learn to write creatively about film the way the French “cinéphiles” do, using both technical and analytical perspectives. (Open to students who have completed French 4 (AP), French 4 or with permission from the department.)

French 6: Advanced Studies
(Half Course)
French 6 explores French civilization through its national symbolism and iconic figures. Class time is dedicated to exploring different aspects of French culture in its historical context. Students will work independently on a variety of projects to deepen their knowledge of modern France. Students will complete projects in multiple forms, but the focus is on oral communication in French. (Open to students who have completed at least one semester of French 5, French 5 (Honors) or with special permission from the department.)


Spanish 1
This course provides an introduction to Spanish including everyday vocabulary, idiomatic expressions, and essential structures of grammar. Special focus is placed on present and past tense conjugations, pronunciation and the use of pronouns. Students develop competence and confidence in Spanish as they learn to express themselves, writing and speaking in real-life situations. They learn about the Spanish-speaking world through readings, presentations and projects.

Spanish 1P (Prior Study)
This course focuses on developing a solid foundation in essential language skills. It is intended for students who have previously studied Spanish but have not mastered the skills or grammar required for Spanish 2, particularly the past tenses. Considering the students’ previous experience with the language, the course allows for a greater depth and variety of activities, such as readings, skits, projects and presentations. Students focus on Spain in Semester 1 and Mexico in Semester 2.

Spanish 2
This course is a continuation of the development of essential language skills. It completes the foundation of Spanish grammar, including the indicative, imperative and subjunctive moods. Students hone their skills through a variety of activities: paired and small-group speaking practice, skits, projects and presentations. Through cultural readings and current events, students explore various aspects of life in the Spanish-speaking world.

Spanish 2/3 (Accelerated)
The goal of Spanish 2/3 is to inspire integrated and creative use of the language. The course takes a contextualized approach to language learning, using authentic content and context as a way to improve and inspire language learning. Students master grammar and vocabulary through readings, discussions and essays on selected topics. Spanish 2/3 also introduces students to the study of literature through short stories and poetry. The course meets five times per week. Placement is at the discretion of the department and enrollment is normally limited to 12 students. Students who take this course are expected to continue their study of Spanish at level 4. (Note: Class I students taking this course to complete their foreign language requirement must remain throughout the spring semester.)

Spanish 3
In this course, students review and study grammatical structures in depth, paying careful attention to the more complex aspects of the language through activities and practice. The course takes a contextualized approach to language learning. The units and readings are centered on current, compelling themes. Upon completing this course, students will be able to express themselves not only in everyday situations, but also in social, political and literary discussions. This course introduces the study of art and literature from Spain and Latin  America.

Spanish 3 (Honors)
This course covers the same content as Spanish 3, but with a more extensive reading list, more frequent writing assignments, and a greater variety of projects. Spanish 3 (Honors) develops critical reading and creative writing skills that prepare students for work in upper level courses. Placement is at the discretion of the department and enrollment is normally limited to 12 students.

Spanish 4: Topics in Hispanic Culture and Literature: Mexico Yesterday and Today
This course examines Mexican history, literature, art and society from pre-Colombian times to the present. The course considers how the past continues to shape issues related to identity, religion, and sociopolitical structures in contemporary Mexico. Students discuss these themes and advance their mastery of Spanish through primary sources from history, literature and news stories. All units and projects will shape the interdisciplinary, inside look at Mexico yesterday and today.

Spanish 4 (Honors)
This is an advanced course in Spanish language and an introduction to the formal study of Hispanic literature. The focus of the course is the “Boom” in Latin American literature and the cultural, political and social factors that contributed to it. Students will read, analyze and discuss the works of authors such as Gabriel García Márquez, Carlos Fuentes, Julio Cortázar, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Juan Rulfo. Through the study of these authors, students will gain understanding of their impact on world literature and their influence on Post Boom authors such as Isabel Allende, Ángeles Mastretta, and Laura Esquivel. Students enrolled in this course will be expected to read and write analytically, as well as express themselves at a level appropriate to honors-level study. (Open to students who have completed Spanish 2/3, Spanish 3, Spanish 3 (Honors) with permission from the department.)

Spanish 5: Inside Latin America
(Semester 1)
This course will guide students through some of Latin America’s most significant historical, political and social changes. These topics will be explored through both literature and film. In this semester course students will examine countries in Central and South America, considering their shared histories and their unique position in the modern world. (Open to students who have completed Spanish 4, Spanish 4 (Honors) or 5 (Honors).)

Spanish 5: Discovering El Caribe
(Semester 2)
This course will provide students with a more comprehensive understanding of the culture, history and unique geographic importance of El Caribe. Students will examine the Caribbean islands of Cuba, the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico through literature, art and film. Students will come to understand the individuality and interconnectedness of the islands of the Caribbea n while studying concepts of ethnic, racial, cultural and sexual identity. (Open to students who have completed Spanish 4, Spanish 4 (Honors), Spanish 5 ( Honors) or Spanish 5 fall semester.)

Spanish 5 (Honors)
This course expands on the works and themes of Spanish 4 (Honors). Through a close, contextualized reading of a variety of works by Spanish and Latin American writers, students will improve their analytical skills and expand their global awareness. Students will explore all literary genres and respond to the works with both critical essays and creative projects. Students will explore works and ideas in a cultural, contextual framework appropriate for honors-level study. (Open to students who have completed Spanish 4, Spanish 4 (Honors), Spanish 5 (fall and/or spring) with permission from the department.)

Advanced Topics in Spanish
(Half Course)
This half course provides students an opportunity to develop their language and rhetorical skills while they take a deeper, more self-directed look at renowned texts and relevant topics. This course will be devoted to a close study of a chosen body of literary works. Students will consider these works for their literary and historical significance. Emphasis will be on conversation and essay writing. (Open to students in Class I or II who have completed Spanish 5 or 5(Honors), or with permission from the department chair.)


With the tremendous economic growth that has taken place in China, the country and its language have become integral to any discussion of the world’s future. Milton Academy’s Chinese language program gives students access to that discussion by providing the cultural and historical background and linguistic pragmatics to incorporate what they have learned into real life situations.

Chinese 1
This course is an introduction to Mandarin Chinese, the national language of China. The course emphasizes spoken Mandarin and written characters, paying particular attention to the tones and proficiency in handling everyday situations in the language. Reading and listening skills are also introduced so that students can begin to feel comfortable expressing themselves verbally and in writing. By the end of the first year, students will have mastered more than 350 characters.

Chinese 2
Chinese 2 continues to build on the foundation of Chinese 1, presenting additional vocabulary that allows students to handle increasingly complicated situations in the language. Through both writing and speaking, students will master most of the basic grammatical structures of the Chinese language. By the end of the year, students can expect to have mastered around 800 characters.

Chinese 3
Chinese 3 prepares students to handle more complex situations in Mandarin. The length of written work increases as students learn characters and gain confidence. The course also continues to stress listening comprehension and speaking about Chinese culture in the target language. By the end of the year, students can expect to have mastered around 1,250 characters.

Chinese 4
Chinese 4 covers a wide range of topics related to current events, social sciences, and Chinese culture. Students reinforce fluency through written work and oral presentations. By the end of the year, students can expect to have mastered around 1,750 characters.

Chinese 5
Chinese 5 deals with topics related to history, culture and current events. Students will increase their vocabulary by discussing topics in the language, giving oral presentations, and writing summaries and essays about what they have read. Much of this course is content driven, and language becomes the tool rather than the objective.

Chinese 5 (Honors)
This honors course is designed for students who already possess native or near-native written and oral Chinese language skills and will explore in depth Chinese language, culture and literature with a focus on contemporary China in the past century. Placement is at the discretion of the department.

Advanced Topics in Chinese
(Half Course)
The teacher will determine course materials based on students’ interests and abilities. In the past, topics have included modern short stories, Chinese history and other historical, social and cultural issues. Reading level in Chinese must be sufficient to allow students to read several pages of Chinese in a short period of time. (Open to students in Class I or II who have completed Chinese 4 or higher, or with permission from the department.)

Intensive Language Courses

These are accelerated courses designed for Class I students (and students in Class II with special permission). Each is the equivalent in difficulty and pace to a first-year college language course and is open only to students who have completed the language requirement through study of another language. (Offered subject to sufficient demand.)

Intensive Chinese

Intensive French

Intensive Classical Greek

Intensive Latin

Intensive Spanish