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.

Watch a video about the Middle School World Language Program:

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 and interests, order food, and converse in a variety of other daily life situations. During the year students complete different projects, create a portfolio which they continue building through 8th grade, present and discuss current events of the Francophone world, watch French films and videos, learn songs, cook and celebrate different holidays at their monthly 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 past tenses, reflexive verbs, expressions of quantity and the partitive, 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 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 on the internet to improve their comprehension, read various excerpts of Francophone literature and write and illustrate their own children books. They complete different projects, make an i-movie, continue learning about the French-speaking world via current event articles and complete their portfolios. At the end of the year students have a “10 minute conversation” with their teacher, write a one-page essay and use most of the French verb tenses.

  • Latin 6

    The primary goal for students is to learn to read basic Latin fluently, to write and to have basic conversations while following the daily life of Caecilius, an actual Roman, and his family, as portrayed in the Cambridge Latin Course. In achieving this goal, they explore English grammar and vocabulary in-depth. 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.

    Students explore the basic elements of vocabulary and grammar including the syntax of nominative and accusative nouns in three declensions, the present, imperfect, and perfect tenses of verbs, simple dependent clauses, comparison of adjectives, first and second person pronouns, and histories of vocabulary words studied in Humanities and Science classes. Life in the city of Pompeii, Caecilius’ home, is the touchstone for learning about ancient civilization.  They also become familiar with the Olympian deities, as well as the Trojan War, the wanderings of Odysseus, and myths about the Underworld. Students select their own topics for a project in the fall semester based on ancient civilization. In the spring, they create a portfolio, which they build continuously through eighth grade. Students enjoy crafting Roman jewelry, make Roman costumes and participate in field trips.

  • 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 also continue to practice the spoken language in skits and basic conversations. They refine their knowledge of etymology, especially how morphemes affect word meaning. Students 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.

    Students work on increasing vocabulary and learn new verb constructions, especially with irregular verbs. They explore uses of the dative and ablative cases of nouns in three declensions to build their knowledge of syntax. They learn relative pronouns and demonstrative adjectives, and comparisons of regular and irregular adjectives. Main characters of the Cambridge Latin Course series move from Pompeii to Britannia and then on to Aegyptia, and so studies of civilization stretch to the boundaries of the Roman Empire. They also study heroes in mythology, such as Hercules and Jason, the creation of the Roman Republic, and the histories of vocabulary words studied in English, History, and Science classes. In the fall, each student completes a project of his or her own choice relating to the ancient world, and in the spring, each student updates the portfolio begun during sixth grade. Students participate in field trips and enjoy sampling Roman crafts, like mosaic making.

  • 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 and oral Latin, doing role-plays of ancient historical characters. 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.

    Students now master and work fluently with all the forms of all five noun declensions, demonstrative adjectives and third person pronouns. They have expanded their comprehension of Latin syntax by learning uses of the ablative and genitive cases. They also have learned to read and write sentences with vocatives, imperatives, and all six verb tenses. This year they also learn how to form and use participles and begin an exploration of the subjunctive mood.  They apply their knowledge of antiquities to their studies of United States history during their trip to Washington, DC, and they continue to build Latin and English vocabulary.

    Latin and French students collaborate on explorations of the Roman occupation of Gallia, using research, skits and other hands-on activities and sharing each other’s knowledge of language.  After voyaging through Judaea, the real life Roman characters of the Cambridge Latin Course land in the city of Rome itself.  In addition, they study the minor myths of the Olympian deities and also some Eastern religious cults popular during the Roman Empire.

    Upon completion of this course, students are ready to enter any level of Upper School Latin up to and including the third year. 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 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 a native speaker interview project, a Day of the Dead project, a field trip, and 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. By the end of the year students are prepared to enter level 2 or 3 in the high school.

    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 conditional tenses are introduced. Spanish culture is explored through a Day of the Dead project, a filmmaking project, and music and art projects.