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 completion of level 3 or 2/3 of a language. We encourage students to continue their studies beyond the level 3 requirement. The courses offered at level 4 and above provide special opportunities to examine 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 or Accelerated levels, students must have an exceptional ability, a record of outstanding performance, and a demonstrated passion for language learning.
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.
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 Anna 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.
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 francophone authors. 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 Pagnol. (Placement is at the discretion of the department chair.)
French 4: Topics in Contemporary Culture & 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 French culture through the use of different media.
French 4 (Honors)
French 4 Honors, “French language, literature, and culture,” is the continuation of French 3 Honors. This is an advanced class that allows French students to continue to develop fluency in the four language skills: listening comprehension, reading comprehension, writing, and speaking. French 4 honors provides extensive grammar review and exposes students to the key events and concepts of French culture and history. Our study in French literature ranges from the classical literature of Sartre to the contemporary work of Delphine de Vigan. Students enrolled in this course will be expected to read extensively. In addition, students will regularly write analytical, critical, and comparative essays. Students must be able to express themselves at a written level appropriate to honors-level study. (Open to students who have completed French 3 (Honors) and French 3 with permission from the department chair.)
French 5 (Honors): A Further Exploration of Literature
This course is intended for students who have completed French 4 Honors 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. This course requires intensive reading and writing in French. (Placement is at the discretion of the department chair.)
French 5: The Francophone World
This multimedia and multi-disciplinary course introduces students to the diversity of the French-speaking world. Through the study of films, documentaries, novels, visual art, poetry, and music, students will learn about French culture outside of France and will become familiar with the following concepts: colonial history and postcolonial identity, oral tradition, acculturation, bilingualism, race, and identity. Students will complete projects in multiple forms, but the focus is on oral communication in French.
French 5: Twentieth-Century France Through its Cinema
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. Students will complete projects in multiple forms, but the focus is on oral communication in French.
French 6: Advanced Studies
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 permission from the department chair.)
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 student’s previous experience with the language, they will develop their Spanish proficiency through readings, compositions, projects, and presentations.
This course is a continuation of the development of essential language skills. It completes the foundation of Spanish grammar, including the indicative, imperative, and present subjunctive. Students hone their skills through a variety of activities: paired and small-group speaking practice, skits, projects, and presentations. Through short stories and cultural readings, students explore various aspects of life in the Spanish-speaking world.
Spanish 2 (Honors)
This course covers the same content as Spanish 2, but with more extensive readings, more frequent writing assignments, and a greater variety of projects. Spanish 2 (Honors) develops critical reading and writing as well as creative writing skills that prepare students for work in upper-level courses. (Placement is at the discretion of the department.)
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 in class through the spring semester, including the senior project period.)
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 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 writing as well as creative writing skills that prepare students for work in upper-level courses. (Placement is at the discretion of the department.)
Spanish 4: Cultural Legacies in the Americas
This course examines cultural legacies related to language, religion, identity and power in the Americas. Students will consider mythology, religion, art, literature, music, film, and other primary sources as lenses to view these legacies and evaluate the ways they shape current issues related to identity and sociopolitical structures in our hemisphere. The specific topics and geographical scale of the study will be determined by the teacher(s) and students. Students will review fundamentals from Spanish 3 (or its equivalent) and build their skills as upper-level language students.
Spanish 4 (Honors)
This course is 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 Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel García Márquez, Carlos Fuentes and Julio Cortázar. 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 extensively. In addition, students will regularly write analytical, critical, and comparative essays. Students must be able to express themselves at a written 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 chair.)
Spanish 5: Inside Latin America
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 or Spanish 4 (Honors).)
Spanish 5: Discovering El Caribe
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 Caribbean while studying concepts of ethnic, racial, cultural, and sexual identity. (Open to students who have completed Spanish 4, Spanish 4 (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 continue to build analytical skills and expand their global awareness. Students will explore all literary genres and respond to the works with critical, analytical and comparative essays as well as 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 (Honors), and who receive permission from the department chair.)
Advanced Topics in Spanish
This half course provides students an opportunity to develop their advanced composition 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.
This course is an introduction to Mandarin Chinese, the official 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 1P (Prior Study)
This course is intended for students who have previously studied or been exposed to Chinese but have not mastered the skills, the grammar or characters required for Chinese 2. This course may be combined with Intensive Chinese.
Chinese 2 continues to build on the foundation of Chinese 1 or Chinese 1P, 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 2 (Honors)
This course continues to focus on proficiency in daily situations. Its goal is to enable the integrated and creative use of the language with limited vocabulary and language structures. Through mimicking, parroting back, and generating simple sentences, students will communicate in very familiar and everyday topics. This course covers the same content as Chinese 2, but with a more extensive reading list, more frequent writing assignments, and a greater variety of projects such as skits and short presentations. This course requires strong self-motivation and much more assignment time outside the classroom. This course is for (a) incoming students from other schools who have learned more than the first 10 lessons of the textbook Integrated Chinese (Level 1, Part 1) but have not yet reached the level of Chinese 3, (b) students who have completed 1P at Milton and wish to challenge themselves, and (c) students who have produced an outstanding performance in Chinese 1 and are recommended for 2 Honors by the department chair.
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 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 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
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 who have completed Chinese 5 or higher, rising seniors who have completed Chinese 4, or with permission from the department )
Courses for students with native or near-native language skills
The following two courses are offered to students from the Chinese-speaking world. The level of these two courses is equivalent to courses taught in Chinese high schools. One of these courses may be offered based on enrollment. They do not need to be taken in sequence.
This course is an introduction to Chinese literature designed for students with native or near-native level Chinese and a strong familiarity with Chinese culture. This course offers an overview of major themes of Chinese literature from different historical periods of China and an introduction to China’s most representative literary works. Students will examine representative literary selections from various time periods in Chinese history, such as The Analects, Tang Poetry, novels in Ming and Qing Dynasty, and modern and contemporary writings. Through reading these selected works of traditional Chinese literature, we will examine some of the major features of traditional Chinese society: religious and philosophical beliefs, the imperial system and dynastic change, gender relations, notions of class and ethnicity, family, romance, and sexuality.
Chinese: Major Issues in 20th-Century China
This course is taught in Chinese. Students will develop their Chinese language skills through close reading and interpretation of primary sources and original documents in Chinese. This course focuses on Chinese history since 1912. Through the study of major historical events and tensions like feudalism and modernization, colonialism and independence, communism and capitalism, dictatorship and democracy, and separation and unification, we will examine how the Chinese people have been searching for a “new” China that they envision. Since 1949, China has evolved into two testing grounds, and both societies have been developing in parallel. After examining the development of two societies culturally, politically, and economically, students will be able to understand and analyze some current issues in the Chinese world through the historical perspective.