World Language

Culture and Communication.

The World Languages Department believes that one of the core components of a well-educated person is the knowledge of at least one foreign language and culture. The department faculty strives to provide  students with a practical knowledge and deep appreciation of the languages and cultures we teach. Course offerings include French, Japanese, Latin, Mandarin, and Spanish. Latin courses emphasize the study of grammar, vocabulary, history, mythology and culture. They provide a thorough exploration of Latin, examining its relationship to English and to Romance languages, and helping students develop an appreciation for Roman and Greek history, logic, literature, law and aesthetics. Spanish, French, Japanese and Mandarin courses emphasize oral proficiency, written communication, reading and culture. Our hope as modern language teachers is to create classrooms where students may:

  • strive for mastery of grammatical structures, vocabulary, and idiomatic expressions so as to communicate effectively both in conversation and in writing
  • read, analyze and interpret written material, including literature, in their historical or cultural context
  • develop respect and appreciation for the diversity of other cultures both within and beyond our own borders and begin to take in interest in global affairs
  • develop insight into their own language and culture
  • use foreign languages to access information offered by interdisciplinary study
  • recognize, through literature and media, the distinctive viewpoints that are available only through the study of a foreign language and its cultures


Incoming Freshmen

How do I know which world language class I will study?
When you are admitted to Menlo School, you will be administered two placement tests: one for Math and one for World Language. Your performance on the test will let the World Language Department know which level is best for you. We have two main goals in placing you in a world language class: we want you to be challenged, always learning and growing in your study of your chosen language. At the same time, we want you to feel comfortable and successful in your language class.

Can I take more than one world language class?
Yes! We have many students who take more than one language class.

How many years do I need to study a world language?
You need to have two requirements in mind when deciding how long to study your chosen language. First, Menlo has a language graduation requirement: two years of a world language, or through level 3. That means, for example, that if you start your study in level 3, you need to study through level 4. However, if you start in level 1, you need to study through level 3. These years of study need to be consecutive levels of the same language.

Second, you need to bear in mind college entrance requirements. As an example, the University of California requires two years of a world language, but recommends three. Other colleges may have different language study requirements.

Does the World Language Department offer trips abroad?
Trips abroad are run through Global Programs and Studies courses.

Rising Sophomores and Juniors

Should I take 3 Honors or 3?
Your level 2 teacher will recommend your placement in honors- or regular-level classes based on your performance in level 2. You must earn an A- in level 2 to be recommended for placement in honors level. Beyond that recommendation, this is a question you should discuss with your parents and your college counselor. The honors program in all languages requires a significant amount of homework, study and commitment. You should consider how much time you have—including regular study and extracurricular activities—before making this decision.

Should I take an Advanced Placement class or a regular level class?
Your 3 Honors or level 4 teacher will recommend your placement in Advanced Placement based on your performance in those classes. You must earn an A- in 3 Honors or level 4 to be recommended for placement in AP. Again, this question should be discussed with your parents and your college counselor. You should remember that AP classes are college-level classes. As with honors classes, they require real commitment on the part of a student and should be made after evaluating all of your obligations and your level of interest.