Learning to communicate and read in another language gives students an understanding and appreciation of other cultures, and prepares them to live more meaningfully in a global society. Recognizing that the study of other languages helps students become more aware of their own heritage and of the function of their own language, the school offers courses in Latin, French and Spanish.
Modern language instruction focuses on teaching students to understand the spoken language and to speak it sufficiently well in order to communicate in everyday situations, to be able to gain information from articles or stories written in the target language, and to communicate adequately in writing. Foreign language students also explore different ways of thinking and living by discovering the cultural wealth of the target language in a variety of different countries.
Viewing films and works of art, hearing music, preparing and tasting food, experiencing plays in the target language, celebrating the holidays of different cultures, and traveling and studying in foreign countries gives students deeper insight and understanding of another culture, making their language study relevant and engaging.
Latin begins in grades 6 and 7 as a required subject, and students may continue their Latin study in grade 8 and into the Upper School through the AP level. Latin provides students with the study of Roman culture and history, the etymology of much English vocabulary, and an understanding of the structure of grammar in both English and the Romance languages.
Students normally take three, but preferably four, years of a modern foreign language beginning in 9th grade, although some start their study of French or Spanish in the 8th grade. AP French and Spanish are also offered for those students who are recommended by their foreign language teachers.