Middle School World Language

Menlo Middle School Spanish students learn about Andean culture by weaving bracelets in class. Photo by Marisa LaValette.

Communication. Culture. Creativity.

World language is a core component of the academic program at the Menlo Middle School. With a combination of immersion in the target language, creative projects, skill development, and cultural activities, supportive teachers guide students through the rigorous program, preparing them to continue their study in the Upper School and to become engaged members of the global community. Four equally vibrant languages are offered: French, Spanish, Latin, and Mandarin.

Communication

Our students practice reading, writing, listening and speaking in a new language. As their skills develop, they hone their ability to communicate effectively and to interact with the world around them.

Culture

While exploring the traditions surrounding a new language, our students open their eyes to a new world, come to understand their own world better and learn to appreciate differences and embrace diverse cultures.

Creativity 

Our students enjoy celebrations and cultural projects through art, music, skits, field trips, guest speakers, and technology.

Meet our Middle School World Language faculty.

Course Catalog

  • French 6

    French 6 is an introduction class, part of the three-year program offered in the Middle School. Communication is the goal, students hear mostly French in the classroom, and from day one they converse. Students learn fundamental grammar and basic vocabulary and work with their classmates on a variety of projects and role-plays. They explore different cultures, art, geography, and history of the French-speaking world.

    Students study the present tense of both regular and irregular verbs and the near future tense. They learn how to introduce themselves and others, talk about their families, their activities, interests, get food, and converse in a variety of other daily life situations. During the year students complete different projects, present and discuss current events of the Francophone world, watch French films and videos, learn songs, cook and celebrate different holidays at their French café. They are encouraged to participate in Francophone cultural activities in the Bay Area and the class goes on a cultural field trip.

  • French 7

    This course continues to develop the four basic skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. The “immersion experience” continues and students learn to express increasingly complex ideas in French and hold more sophisticated conversations.

    Each unit of study includes a corresponding activity or project, which promotes the relevancy of new grammar and vocabulary. These units are based on everyday situations according to different themes such as food, vacations, daily routine, health habits and sports, going to the doctor, visiting different countries in the world where French is spoken, and handling transportation. By the end of 7th-grade students should be able to speak and write using present, future, and some past tenses, reflexive verbs, expressions of quantity and the partitive articles, as well as direct and indirect object pronouns. During the year students will complete different projects, learn songs, cook and celebrate different holidays at their French café, and go on a cultural field trip.

  • French 8

    This course builds on the skills learned in French 6 and 7. Students develop their oral communication, reading and listening comprehension, and writing skills. This course is taught exclusively in French. Students continue to acquire practical vocabulary and idioms and learn more advanced grammatical structures. Reading and writing increases in sophistication.

    Students work with films, videos and news to improve their comprehension. They read various children books and write and illustrate their own books. They complete different projects, make an iMovie, continue learning about the French-speaking world via current event articles. At the end of the year, students have a 15-minute conversation with their teacher and write a one-page essay.

  • Latin 6

    The primary goal for students is to learn to read and write basic Latin fluently while following the daily life of a Roman boy named Quintus and his family, as portrayed in the Oxford Latin Course. Quintus grows up to become the famous Roman poet known as Horace, who witnessed the collapse of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire under Augustus! Throughout the course, students explore Latin grammar and vocabulary in-depth, focusing on the various cases of nouns in the first three declensions and various forms of verbs in the present tense. In addition, they cultivate a love of language by exploring the histories of words, not only English but also the Romance Languages, and their roots in Latin and Greek. Integral to the study of language is reflection on the foundations of western civilization through explorations of Roman daily life, history, literature, geography, and mythology. In addition, each student begins to understand how he or she learns and to develop strategies for optimizing memory, for launching clear written and oral expression, and for establishing critical thinking skills.

    All Latin students belong to the California Junior Classical League and have the option to participate in local and statewide conventions.

  • Latin 7

    During the second year course, students work to understand and use more complex grammar and more extensive vocabulary, especially both in reading and writing. They now learn the other verb tenses, having primarily focused only on present tense in the previous year. Students continue to follow the story of Quintus, the young poet Horace, as he leaves home in the Italian countryside to pursue his education in Rome. In following Quintus’ story, students learn about historical characters such as Julius Caesar, Cicero, and Cleopatra. They refine their knowledge of etymology, especially how morphemes affect word meaning, and continue to ponder the foundations of western civilization through explorations of Roman daily life, history, literature, geography, and mythology. Each student reflects on his or her individual progress and refines strategies for improving memory, polishing written and oral expression, and deepening critical thinking skills.

    All Latin students belong to the California Junior Classical League and have the option to participate in local and statewide conventions.

  • Latin 8

    During the third year of study, students read complex Latin narratives fluently and are able to express themselves with greater ease and length in written Latin. They explore and reflect on how the history of words, ideas, culture, and art has shaped our modern world, especially in relation to their travels in Washington D. C. Students concentrate on further strengthening and refining their learning skills in preparation for more advanced levels of language study, especially Latin, in Upper School courses. Upon completion of this course, students are ready to enter Upper School Latin at the second level. In the spring, students finish the portfolio, which they have been building continuously since sixth grade.

    All Latin students belong to the California Junior Classical League and have the option to participate in local and statewide conventions.

  • Mandarin 6

    The Middle School Mandarin program is an interactive course designed with an emphasis on communication and cultural understanding. In the first year, students will learn to introduce themselves, greet people, talk about their families and pets, count in Chinese, and talk about their likes and dislikes. Discussion and exploration of Chinese culture are integrated into the curriculum and enriched by experiential learning activities like dumpling making, brush painting, crafts projects, lion dance classes, and an annual field trip. While the emphasis is on developing overall proficiency, some attention is devoted to areas like pronunciation and character writing to prepare students for success in higher level classes.

  • Mandarin 7

    The second-year Mandarin course has a dual goal of developing students’ language skills in Mandarin and deepening their understanding of and appreciation for Chinese culture. Students will grow more confident in their speaking and writing, and learn to handle a wider variety of conversational situations. The themes of the units will include talking about different countries and languages, discussing food and cuisines, conversing about sports and hobbies, celebrating a friend’s birthday, and describing your daily life. While the focus is on overall communication skills and cultural competency, fundamentals of the Chinese language including proper pronunciation and character writing will continue to be emphasized. Lessons will be taught in a gradually immersive approach in order to increase learners’ exposure to authentic language input and prepare them for real life interactions with native speakers. Discussions of traditional values and practices, historical and current events, and contemporary Chinese culture will be integrated into all aspects of the class and deepened through experiential learning activities like a cooking project and an annual field trip.

  • Mandarin 8

    Building on the foundation laid in the previous two years, students in their third year of Mandarin study will learn to communicate with more precision and complexity in a wider range of topics. The themes of the units will include going to the stores, discussing clothing and fashion, dining at a restaurant, talking about the weather, and making phone calls. Lessons will be taught in an immersive setting in order to maximize learners’ exposure to authentic language input and prepare them for real life interactions with native speakers. Cultural understanding and appreciation will continue to serve as the underpinning of this course, where discussions of historical and current events, traditional values and practices, and contemporary culture will be integrated into all aspects of the class, and deepened through a research project and an annual expedition to a local Chinese community.

  • Spanish 6

    In this introductory level course, students will learn to speak, read, write and play in Spanish while learning about the cultures of the Spanish-speaking world. Students will learn to use the language with ease, both inside and outside the classroom, in everyday situations.

    Students will learn about the geography, culture and traditions of the Spanish-speaking world while they build basic communication skills and gradually immerse in the language. By the end of the year, students will be able to introduce themselves; to talk about their families and friends, their communities and their school; and to discuss their likes, dislikes, interests and activities. Students will study the present tense of regular and irregular verbs. They will be familiar with ser and estar, as well as have a good foundation in vocabulary relating to sports, clothing, entertainment, emotions, weather and school life. Throughout the year, students will complete projects about famous people, places and traditions of Spain and Latin America.

  • Spanish 7

    This second-year Spanish course immerses students in Spanish language and culture and continues to develop their speaking, listening, and writing skills. Students learn to express increasingly complex ideas in Spanish and hold typical conversations with each other and with native speakers. Students often choose the focus of their projects, their work partners, and the structure of their presentations. Varied learning styles are supported on a daily basis.

    Students learn how to communicate in authentic everyday situations through oral and written activities. Units are real-world and adolescent-focused and thematic in nature: food, shopping, celebrations, visiting the doctor, staying in shape, talking on the phone, and describing self and others. The present tense is reviewed, and the preterit tense and reflexive verbs are introduced. Spanish culture is explored through current events, a food project, a field trip, music, and art projects.

     
     

  • Spanish 8

    This third-year Spanish course immerses students in Spanish language and culture and continues to develop their speaking, listening, and writing skills. Students learn to express increasingly complex ideas in Spanish and hold typical conversations with each other and with native speakers. Students often choose the focus of their projects and the structure of their presentations. Varied learning styles are supported on a daily basis.  


    Students learn how to communicate in authentic everyday situations through oral and written activities. Units are real-world and adolescent-focused: describing feelings, telling a story, making comparisons, giving explanations, suggestions, and directions, talking about the news, and describing a problem. The present, preterit, and reflexive tenses are reviewed, and the imperfect and present perfect tenses are introduced. Spanish culture is explored through a Day of the Dead project, a video project, music, and a field trip.

 

Video: World Languages at Menlo

Video: Sixth Grade World Language Offerings