Modern Languages at Middlesex

Middlesex School offers courses in Chinese, French and Spanish. The study of a foreign language provides the student the opportunity to become a more versatile member of the world community. It also gives the student a unique perception of his or her culture as distinct from another way of life and thought.

All classes are conducted primarily in the language studied. The skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing are taught simultaneously. Courses use a full range of materials: texts, periodicals, literature, recordings, films, videos, and iPad language laboratory sessions. Throughout his or her career every student is called upon to demonstrate listening, speaking, reading, and writing competence. A variety of techniques are employed to encourage advanced students to approach the competence of a native speaker of the same age: extensive vocabulary study, thorough grammatical review, readings in modern literature and periodicals, digital recordings, films, and guests. Advanced Placement courses are offered in Chinese, French, and Spanish.

The School encourages Middlesex students to participate in foreign travel and family-stay experiences. Departments offer trips during spring break and summer vacation when there are enough interested students and teachers.


Chinese Courses: 2019-2020

Spoken by more than one billion people, Chinese is the most common language in the world.  Its primary dialect, Mandarin, alone is the most common native tongue among the global population. When students choose to study the Chinese language at Middlesex, they will be prepared to interact linguistically and culturally in a contemporary Chinese context.  The objective of the Chinese Department is to develop listening, speaking, reading, writing and typing skills and to cultivate a level of competency through which students can comfortably communicate in a variety of settings.  Classes are led in Mandarin, and English is only used to help in the explanation of grammar. Materials include textbook, workbook, DVDs, periodicals, websites, online programs, and language computer programs, with access to iPads as virtual language lab tools. As students advance in each level of study, they will gain further insight into the Chinese language and culture enabling them to participate more fully in a global community and marketplace.

CHINESE 10. Chinese. Year. The Department. 5 meetings weekly. For students with no previous or limited experience with Chinese. As students embark on their journey in learning Chinese, they will find themselves immersed in the language and its culture. Simplified Chinese characters – the standard written form used in modern day China – are taught in most lessons but traditional characters are also introduced. All vocabulary learning is accompanied with PinYin, the standard Romanization pronunciation system.  This course focuses on developing students’ pronunciation and intonation, introducing Chinese characters, and nurturing students’ penmanship as well as the ability to analyze the structures of Chinese characters. Memorization to write characters is not required.

CHINESE 20. Intermediate Chinese. Year. The Department. 5 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: Chinese 10 or its equivalent. This course is a continuation of Chinese 10, honing the listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills of each student. In addition, it provides students with a deeper knowledge of the Chinese writing system and requests students write with stronger penmanship. Typing will be added into the curriculum as well.  Through the learning of vocabulary and language patterns of more varied topics, students gain more control of the elements of the Chinese language and implement them with confidence.

CHINESE 30. Advanced Chinese Part I. Year. The Department. 5 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: Chinese 20 or its equivalent. A continuation of Chinese 20, students learn more complex sentence patterns and vocabulary through conversation on a range of practical topics. This course systematically trains students to use rich vocabulary and diverse new sentence patterns in their paragraph writing and speaking performance. It also provides the training to make the distinctions between similar words, sounds and sentence patterns, and it teaches students to further master the structure in the Chinese language.

CHINESE 31. Advanced Chinese Part I Honors. Year. The Department. 5 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: Chinese 20 and permission of the Department. Intended for students with strong records of accomplishment in listening, speaking, reading, writing and typing in Chinese 20.  The course is more rigorous and proceeds at a faster pace. It requests students to comprehend listening and reading materials in time-restrained frameworks. Students are required to elaborate with rich vocabulary and various language patterns in their writing and speaking performance on a regular basis.

CHINESE 41. Advanced Chinese Part IIa. Fall. The Department. 4 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: Chinese 30 or its equivalent. This course is taught almost entirely in Mandarin Chinese and interweaves the study of Chinese language and culture. Students learn more complex sentence patterns and vocabulary through the use of a wide range of primary resources. The course explores themes of traveling, life outside the classroom, literature, art performance and going abroad.

CHINESE 42. Advanced Chinese Part IIb. Spring. The Department. 4 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: Chinese 30 or its equivalent. This course is taught almost entirely in Mandarin Chinese and develops students’ awareness of social and environmental issues, including global societal changes brought by China’s economic development, environmental protection, feeding the world and marching towards prosperity. Students are encouraged to initiate self-expression and discussion of current events.

CHINESE 43. Chinese Literature. Fall. The Department. 4 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: Chinese 30 or its equivalent. In this course, students will read a variety of Chinese literature works of various literary genres selected from different historical periods, including Chinese poetry, prose, drama etc. Based on the reading of the literature works, students will discuss and research topics in Chinese history and culture. The course is mainly conducted in Mandarin Chinese. THIS COURSE WILL NOT BE OFFERED IN 2019-2020.

CHINESE 44. Chinese Culture. Spring. The Department. 4 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: Chinese 30 or its equivalent. In this course, students will watch and analyze famous Chinese movies and TV programs from Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan that are of cultural significance. Through discussion and research, students will develop understanding of the programs’ themes, backgrounds, content and culture. Students will also learn vocabulary and language expressions through the study of the scripts. The course is mainly conducted in Mandarin Chinese. THIS COURSE WILL NOT BE OFFERED IN 2019-2020.

CHINESE 60. Advanced Placement Chinese Language and Culture. Year. The Department. 5 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: Chinese 31 or equivalent and Permission of the Department. This course is taught entirely in Mandarin Chinese. It is designed for those students who are interested in deepening their immersion into Chinese language and culture. The course provides students with ongoing and varied opportunities to further develop their proficiencies across the full range of language skills. The course prepares students for the Advanced Placement Examination in Chinese Language and Culture.

CHINESE 70. Advanced Multi-Topic Conversations in Mandarin. Fall. Mrs. Ku. 4 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: Chinese 60 or Permission of the Department. This course will guide students through the latest Mandarin speaking online programs. Through discussions and role-playing activities, students will enrich their vocabulary and increase their oral fluency in a wide range of topics including technology, social phenomena, culture and art. The goal of the course is to nurture students’ Mandarin proficiency beyond the AP level and increase students’ awareness of Chinese culture and current events.


French Courses: 2019-2020

As a general objective, the French Department incorporates the study of the Francophone world and its culture at all levels of study. Additionally, the French Department does its best to uphold the Standards of Foreign Language Learning in the twenty-first-century known as “The Five Cs”: Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, Communities. We practice the four skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking) through the three modes of communication (interpersonal, interpretive and presentational). Each student’s voice is important, therefore, the Department expects every student to share his or her work and thoughts orally on a daily basis.

FRENCH 11. French. Fall. The Department. 5 meetings weekly. For students with no previous or limited experience with French. From the beginning, the students will learn to speak, write, and read French. Materials used include text, workbook and audio and lab programs. Students work on their pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar and are exposed to the Francophone culture. This course teaches both conversational and written skills.

FRENCH 12. French Grammar. Fall, Spring. The Department. 5 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: French 11 or Permission of the Department. The course is a continuation of French 11. The student further develops his/her pronunciation, vocabulary, reading, writing, and elementary conversation skills. Materials used include text, workbook and audio and lab programs. The study of grammar and Francophone culture continue to be an integral part of the course.

FRENCH 21. Intermediate French Part I. Fall, Spring. The Department. 5 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: French 12 or Permission of the Department. Assuming previous experience with French, this course reviews the basic grammar of the first year. Simple readings and a grammar text stimulate questions and answers, and communication among students also instills listening and speaking skills. Structured, but increasingly free compositions are required. The study of Francophone culture continues to be an integral part of the course.

FRENCH 22. Intermediate French Part II. Fall, Spring. The Department. 5 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: French 21 or Permission of the Department. A course is a continuation of French 21. Original compositions required. In class, emphasis is placed on communication in French to develop oral comprehension and speaking skills. A higher level of fluency is the goal. The study of Francophone culture continues to be an integral part of the course.

FRENCH 31. Advanced French Part I. Fall, Spring. The Department. 5 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: French 22 or Permission of the Department. This course stresses improvement in the basic language skills with an extensive review of verb forms and grammatical structures. The study of Francophone culture continues to be an integral part of the course. Readings of moderate difficulty are introduced for oral discussion and written appreciation. Speaking skills are developed in recitations and classroom discussions.

FRENCH 32. Advanced French Part II. Fall, Spring. The Department. 5 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: French 31 or Permission of the Department. A continuation of French 31, this course further studies the essentials of French grammar. Additionally the course is largely oriented toward reading works of nineteenth, twentieth or twenty-first century authors. Regular compositions, tests, and oral presentations are required.

FRENCH 41. Literature, Court-Métrages, Films and Culture of the Francophone World in the Caribbean Islands and America. Fall. The Department. 4 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: French 32 or Permission of the Department. In this course, in addition to a review of the essentials of language structure, we will analyze selected readings of twentieth and twenty-first century authors from the Francophone islands in the Caribbean as well as the province of Quebec and the state of Louisiana. We will watch one or two movies and examine the literature (prose and poetry), cultures, current events and issues in these areas of the francophone world and their connections with France. Analytical papers, vocabulary, comprehension, grammatical structure and correct oral expression will serve as the basis for each student’s grade.

FRENCH 42. Literature, Court-Métrages, Films and Culture of the Francophone World in Asia, Europe and the Islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Fall. The Department. 4 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: French 32 or Permission of the Department. In this course, in addition to a review of the essentials of language structure, we will analyze selected readings of twentieth and twenty-first century authors from the Francophone countries in Asia, Europe and the islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. We will watch one or two movies and examine the literature (prose and poetry), cultures, current events and issues in these areas of the francophone world and their connections with France. Analytical papers, vocabulary, comprehension, grammatical structure and correct oral expression will serve as the basis for each student’s grade.  THIS COURSE WILL NOT BE OFFERED IN 2019-2020.

FRENCH 45. French Language and Arts in the Francophone World (Film, Theater, Songs, Visual Arts and Culinary Art). Spring. The Department. 4 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: French 32 or Permission of the Department. Through arts and one or two films, we will endeavor to understand, discover, explore and study the people, history, geography and beauty of the multiple and diverse cultures that constitute “La Francophonie”.  We will continue to study and review grammatical concepts. Active and thoughtful class participation, good mastery of vocabulary and grammatical structures, analytical papers, creative writing papers, research, oral presentations and a final project, will serve as the basis for each student’s grade.

FRENCH 46. La France métissée: Literature, Court-Métrages, Films and Culture of the Francophone World in Africa. Spring. The Department.4 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: French 32 or Permission of the Department. In this course we will discuss colonialism, independence movements and post-colonialism through literature (prose, poetry and plays), documentaries, films, songs and other forms of expression.  We will study la négritude, les français d’outre-mer, les français issus de l’immigration et les français de souche. We will endeavor to understand the challenges as well as the triumphs of la France métissée. The course will attempt to remain “au courant” of current events and issues pertaining and relevant to the themes of this course.  We will also continue to study and review grammatical concepts. Active and thoughtful class participation, good mastery of vocabulary and grammatical structures, analytical papers, creative writing papers, research and oral presentations will serve as the basis for each student’s grade.  THIS COURSE WILL NOT BE OFFERED IN 2019-2020.

FRENCH 60. Advanced Placement French Language and Culture. Year. The Department. 5 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: Permission of the Department. The course is designed to prepare the students for the Advanced Placement examination of Language and Culture. The course will incorporate interdisciplinary topics addressing six basic themes: Global Challenges, Sciences and Technology, Contemporary Life, Personal and Public Identities, Families and Communities, and Beauty and Aesthetics. We will work with authentic non-literary, literary and audio texts. This course prepares students to be grammatically proficient, fluent and accurate when they speak and write. Students are also trained to be “au courant,” well-versed, in the various cultures, literatures and languages of France and the Francophone world.

FRENCH 70. Advanced French – Francophone Literature and Film, Fall, Spring. The Department. 4 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: French 60 or Permission of the Department. This course is a literature course designed to introduce students to the history of French literature and literature of the Francophone world. We will read and analyze novels, plays and poems of nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first century authors from around the Francophone world. We will see and compare the cinematographic adaptation of a couple of our literary selections. The choice of our literature pieces will be based on the interests, experiences and background of the students enrolled in this course.  We will also address major and pertinent current events shaping the francophone world. The course aims to develop verbal and written communication abilities as well as analytical and critical skills. Students are expected to engage, contribute and interact actively.  THIS COURSE WILL NOT BE OFFERED IN 2019-2020.


Spanish Courses: 2019-2020

The Spanish Department incorporates the study of Spanish-speaking countries’ culture and literature to enhance communication and interaction in Spanish. All levels are conducted in Spanish in order to create a learning environment where students develop interpersonal, interpretive and presentational modes of communication. The course contents are structured to promote exploration of Spanish in context and develop students’ understanding of the language. Students are required to demonstrate knowledge of Spanish language and be able to use it in real-life settings.

SPANISH 11. Spanish. Fall. The Department. 5 meetings weekly. For students with no previous or limited experience with Spanish. This is the foundation course in Spanish, stressing both the oral and grammatical functions of the language. The language in the classroom is Spanish; English is used only to help in the explanation of grammar. Emphasis is placed upon comprehension, pronunciation, and self-expression. Materials include textbook, workbook, audio programs linked to the text, web exercises and iPad language laboratory sessions.

SPANISH 12. Spanish Grammar. Fall, Spring. The Department. 5 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: Spanish 11 or Permission of the Department. This course is the continuation of the foundation course. Its goals are to introduce new tenses and grammar points, amplify vocabulary and increase written expression. Materials include textbook, workbook, audio programs linked to the text, web exercises and iPad language laboratory sessions.

SPANISH 21. Intermediate Spanish – Part I. Fall, Spring. The Department. 5 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: Spanish 12 or Permission of the Department. Grammar skills are reinforced with writing assignments and in-class conversation. Other tenses are introduced, including compound tenses. Vocabulary and idiomatic expressions are expanded. Materials include textbook, workbook, audio programs linked to the text, web exercises, outside readings and iPad language laboratory sessions.

SPANISH 22. Intermediate Spanish – Part II. Fall, Spring. The Department. 5 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: Spanish 21 or Permission of the Department. This course is a continuation of Spanish 21, emphasizing self-expression, conversational skills, and grammar. Materials include textbook, workbook, audio programs linked to the text, web exercises, outside readings and iPad language laboratory sessions.

SPANISH 31. Advanced Spanish – Part I. Fall, Spring. The Department. 5 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: Spanish 22 or Permission of the Department. The course offers an introduction of advanced grammar topics with further acquisition of vocabulary and idiomatic expressions. Additional tenses and compound structures are presented and incorporated through reading and writing. Active vocabulary and proficiency in speaking and listening are developed through conversations and oral presentations. Spanish and Latin American texts are introduced to support curricular objectives and provide the subject matter for in-class discussions and short compositions. Materials include textbook, workbooks, audio programs linked to the text, web exercises, outside readings, and iPad language laboratory sessions.

SPANISH 32. Advanced Spanish – Part II. Fall, Spring. The Department. 5 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: Spanish 31 or Permission of the Department. The continuation of Spanish 31, this course further studies the essentials of advanced Spanish grammar and offers an exploration of more complex contextual themes. Works studied include ¿Qué me quieres, amor? by Manuel Rivas. Students develop higher proficiency in all areas of language in preparation for special topic and/or Advanced Placement courses. This course requires regular compositions, oral presentations, and class discussion. Materials include textbook, workbooks, audio programs linked to the text, web exercises, outside readings, and iPad language laboratory sessions.

SPANISH 41. The Latino Experience in USA. Fall. The Department. 4 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: Spanish 32 or Permission of the Department. This course will explore the complex history and the rich cultural production of Latinos in the US, and their peculiar position in American society. Despite having partaken in the American experience from the very beginning, Latinos have been stubbornly perceived as outsiders and strangers. However, from their frequently marginal position Latinos have managed to cleave their mark on every aspect of American life. Through the discussion of literary works, scholarly articles, art, film, and music, the students will expand their knowledge of the heterogeneous and complex Latino experience and improve their conversational Spanish.

SPANISH 42. Cuba, México and Spain: Culture and Social Turmoil in the 20th Century. Spring. The Department. 4 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: Spanish 32 or Permission of the Department. This course will introduce the students to a variety of materials concerning relevant topics of the history and culture of Cuba, México and Spain. Focusing on specific historical events (the Cuban and Mexican Revolutions, the Spanish Civil War and the Transición) the students will be exposed to literary works, films and articles that dealt, and in some instances even contributed to shape, the historical events discussed. Advanced grammar topics will be reviewed in connection with the material, and class discussions, presentations and papers will be used to assess the improvement of the spoken and written Spanish.

SPANISH 43. Spanish and Latin American Film. Fall. The Department. 4 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: Spanish 32 or Permission of the Department. This course uses Spanish language cinema to highlight cultural issues in the Spanish-speaking world. By way of carefully chosen films from a variety of Spanish-speaking countries, students will examine a wide variety of geographic, cultural, and historical settings. For example, in Nueve reinas students will learn about recent Argentinian history and will discuss issues of national identity and representation, in También la lluvia they will learn about social conflicts in South America and the legacy of Spanish colonialism, and in No they will learn about Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile and the transition to democracy. The class will be taught entirely in Spanish. The development of vocabulary and grammatical sophistication will also be cornerstones of the course, thus giving students the opportunity to continue on to the AP level.  THIS COURSE WILL NOT BE OFFERED IN 2019-2020.

SPANISH 45. Spanish and Latin American Literature. Spring. The Department. 4 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: Spanish 32 or Permission of the Department. In this course students will read a mix of novels, plays, essays, and poems, with the goal of furthering their analytical ability, vocabulary, and cultural understanding. It is a student-centered course with heavy emphasis on in-class discussion, oral presentations and written analysis of works studied. The class will be taught entirely in Spanish. The development of vocabulary and grammatical sophistication will also be cornerstones of the course, thus giving students the opportunity to continue on to the Advanced Placement level. Works studied will include: Crónica de una muerte anunciada by García Márquez, poetry by Sor Juana, Gabriela Mistral and Alfonsina Storni, La casa de Bernarda Alba by Federico García Lorca and a selection of readings from the essay Breve historia de la misoginia by Anna Caballé. THIS COURSE WILL NOT BE OFFERED IN 2019-2020.

SPANISH 60. Advanced Placement Spanish Language and Culture. Year. The Department. 5 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: Permission of the Department. Many materials are utilized, including audio and video programs as well as a lengthy reading list including works of many Spanish and Latin American authors. The class also makes use of many current Spanish newspapers and periodicals. This course provides preparation for the Advanced Placement Examination in Spanish Language and Culture.

SPANISH 70. Advanced Placement Spanish Literature and Culture. Year. The Department. 5 meetings weekly. Prerequisite: Permission of the Department and successful completion of Spanish 60. This course is intended for students with special interest and ability in Spanish language and literature who wish to prepare for the Advanced Placement Examination in Spanish Literature and Culture. This course is a survey literature course beginning with works such as Lazarillo de Tormes and ending with the works of Gabriel García Márquez.