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World Language

world language

The SMUHSD World Languages Department offers five language programs: Chinese (Mandarin), French, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish.

To graduate students are required to have at least one year of World Language study. However, most universities require a minimum of two to three years.  

In all language programs, our goal is to support our students in reaching communicative proficiency across the three communicative modes: interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational. Students will work with authentic materials and communicate in real life settings. Cultural proficiency is an integral part of our program, so that students will be well prepared to compete in our global economy. Students will develop an understanding of the target culture, connect with other disciplines, and compare their native language and culture to those being studied.

California World Language Standards (2019)

California World Language Framework (pre-publication)

ACTFL - American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages: National Standards for Foreign Language Education

Chinese

Chinese I

Students will learn Pinyin, radicals, frequently used characters, word usage, sentence patterns, and grammar. Students will develop basic listening, speaking, reading, and writing abilities in Mandarin Chinese. The students will also acquire the knowledge of Chinese culture and history. This course is for beginning students or non-native speakers only.

Chinese II  

This is a continuation of Chinese I with a holistic approach to develop reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills of the Chinese language. This course seeks to provide students with the most commonly used Chinese characters and phrases, further understanding of Chinese grammar, and abilities to write short paragraphs. Students will advance the knowledge of Chinese culture and society. At the end of the year, students are expected to conduct basic daily communication in some real-life situations. 

Chinese III

This is a continuation of Chinese II. In this course, students will further develop their communication skills in the areas of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Rigorous emphasis will be placed on students’ speaking and writing skills in Chinese and appreciation of Chinese culture. The instruction is conducted mostly in Chinese.

Chinese IV Honors

This is a continuation of Chinese III. The course is a preparation course for AP Chinese. This course is continuingly intended to develop the four communications skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Typing in Chinese is another skill to be addressed. Students will also acquire more vocabulary and grammar patterns. Students will gain some basic knowledge of Chinese literature during the second semester. At the end of the year, students will be able to produce and present their own viewpoints of events by using the Chinese language in both spoken and written forms. The instruction will be conducted in Chinese.

Advanced Placement Chinese Language and Literature

This course is designed to provide students with ongoing and varied opportunities to further develop their proficiencies across the full range of language skills within a cultural frame of reference reflective of the richness of Chinese language and culture, in preparation for the Chinese AP exam.


French

French 1

This  beginning  course  provides  students  with  a  general introduction  to  the  French  language, its sound system and pronunciation. Introductory  topics  such  as  describing  oneself,  friends,  family; school  and  home  life;;  leisure  activities,  dining  out,  shopping, getting around in a city and travel are  treated. Through  the  acquisition  of  vocabulary and structures based on these themes, students gain basic skills for  proficiency in listening, speaking, reading and writing French. Emphasis is given to  understanding cultural perspectives, customs, art and music of France.

French II

This  second  year  elective  course  is  designed  to  further  develop  basic  communicative  skills   through  topics  such  as  holidays,  cuisine  and  mealtime,  cinema, technology,  health  and  nature.  Classroom  instruction  is  designed  to  engage  students  in communicative  tasks  that  relate  to  the   present,  past  and  future.  Students  learn  the  target  language  in  a  contemporary  cultural  context   that  supports  living  in  a  global  society.

French III

This is a third-year French course in which students will continue to develop their proficiency in the language together with their understanding of Francophone culture. The course will help students develop the productive, receptive, and cultural skills useful in communicating with native speakers. Students will also be able to speak and write with more complexity, including conversations, journals, letters, interviews, and short essays.

French IV Honors

Students will continue to build their skills through lessons in advanced  structures, vocabulary and   idiomatic  expressions of  the  language and cultures of the French speaking world. Use of blogs, journals, realia, authentic texts, social media and assigned projects enhance units of study.  The themes of study (global challenges, science and technology, contemporary life, personal and public identities, family and community, beauty/aesthetics) correlate with those presented on the AP French Language and Culture Exam which many students opt to take at the end of French IV Honors.

IB French (Capuchino)

During the two years of the International Baccalaureate Program, students will complete their inventory of advanced grammatical structure and verb tenses. At the same time, they will sharpen their speaking and writing skills in preparation for the oral and written examinations of the IB. Students will extend their knowledge of the literature, film, music, current events, and culture of the francophone world. Special emphasis will be placed on topics which are important to adolescents, such as technology, entertainment, social issues and the environment.


Italian

Italian I

This is an introductory course in which students will begin to understand and convey information about themselves (physical and personality traits, likes and dislikes) and the world around them (family, home, school life, leisure activities, foods, shopping, numbers, means of transportation, destinations).  Students will comprehend and reproduce memorized words, phrases, and sentences when speaking or writing.  They will understand uncomplicated speech when listening and simple texts when reading.  In addition, students will start developing cross‐cultural appreciation by learning the products, practices, and perspectives of the Italian culture.

Italian II

This course is designed to build upon the skills already acquired in Level 1/2.   Students will begin to understand and convey information beyond themselves and their world (geography, directions, cultural and historical figures, places and events, health, travel and work, narrating events in the past and future).   Students will use and understand connected sentences and short paragraphs when speaking, reading and writing.  In addition, students will continue to develop cross‐cultural appreciation by learning the products, practices, and perspectives of the Italian culture.

Italian III

This course is designed to build upon the skills already acquired in LevelII.   At this level, students are asked to communicate using more complex language. Students will begin to understand and convey information about art, history, literature, music, current affairs and civilization with an emphasis on significant people and events in these fields. Students will continue to use and understand connected sentences and short paragraphs when speaking, reading, and writing.  In addition, students will continue to develop cross‐cultural appreciation by learning the products, practices, and perspectives of the Italian culture. Cultural understanding will be expanded through the use of authentic sources (reading, video, audio, Internet).

Advanced Placement Italian Language and Culture

AP Italian Language and Culture is similar to third year university courses that focus on advanced speaking and writing in Italian. The course is organized thematically, with authentic listening, reading, writing and speaking activities focusing on a unifying theme. Grammar instruction is related to the theme as appropriate.  The class seeks to develop the language and cultural skills necessary to take the AP Italian Language and Culture exam, which students are expected to take in May.  


Japanese

Japanese I

Japanese I is designed for students with no background in the language.* Considerable time in the first semester will be spent in basic communicative tasks such as introductions, discussing one’s day, telling time, making appointments and giving and receiving instruction. The level of speech is polite/formal, appropriate for most situations. Students learn the two phonetic alphabets and begin to write basic dialogues and short paragraphs.  Chinese characters are introduced during the winter and students learn a total of 140 within the year.  Instruction is primarily in Japanese.  The second semester builds upon the first by incorporating more explicit grammar and writing. Students are expected to communicate with one another and the teacher in Japanese whenever possible.  A variety of technology is incorporated in the curriculum. Students will learn to use these tools as they learn Japanese.

Japanese II

This course will further develop the communication skills of the student.  Students will be able to express personal opinion and give reasons for it, and be able to reflect upon events.  Emphasis will be placed on the informal forms of speech needed for discussion among peers including gender specific familiar speech.  Parallel to this will be gradual introduction of more formal language structures expected of young adults in Japan.  Students will learn an additional 150 Chinese characters.  To further their ability to use the new structures, students will use role play to: demonstrate  cooking and gift giving practices.  They will be able to give directions and plan and promote a trip to Japan.  They will be able to write Haiku in Japanese, compare and choose an apartment, and successfully describe an illness or injury at a medical clinic.  Written expression will be emphasized through journals and short essays.  Students will continue to build their technology skills.

Japanese III

This course is designed for students who have already studied Japanese language for two years, and have more advanced functional communication skills in Japanese as well as a working knowledge of the writing systems. In this course, students will further develop their communicative ability in Japanese. Emphasis will be placed on reading and listening comprehension, conversation, short essay writing and appreciation of Japanese culture. This course is designed as a pre AP course to prepare students who are planning to take the Japanese AP Exam in the following year. The instruction is conducted mostly in Japanese.

Advanced Placement Japanese Language and Culture

In order to support student success in the AP exam, this course will further develop the communication skills of the student.  Students will be able to express their hopes and plans for the future.  They will further strengthen their ability to use formal speech patterns with superiors as well as more informal speech with their peers.  They will also begin to make conjectures about what might happen.  To practice their new structures, students will use role play to prepare a news program, advertise for and apply for a job, and persuade others to try their favorite hobby.  Student writing will continue to be emphasized.  This course prepares students to take the Advanced Placement test in Japanese Language and Culture.

Japanese IV Honors

In this course, students will further develop their communication ability in Japanese language. Emphasis will be placed on reading and listening comprehension, conversation, writing short essays, and appreciation of Japanese culture. Students will be expected to express/exchange their opinions to/with the teacher and other students. More Kanji will be taught. This course is also designed as a pre-AP course to prepare students who are planning to take the AP Japanese exam the following year. The instruction will be conducted mostly in Japanese.


Spanish

Spanish I

This is an introductory course in which students will begin to understand and convey information about themselves (physical and personality traits, likes and dislikes) and the world around them (family, home, school life, leisure activities, foods, shopping, clothes, numbers, means of transportation, destinations).  Students will comprehend and reproduce memorized words, phrases, and sentences when speaking or writing.  They will understand uncomplicated speech when listening and simple texts when reading.  In addition, students will start developing cross‐cultural appreciation by learning the products, practices, and perspectives of the Spanish speaking world.

Spanish II

This course is designed to build upon the skills already acquired in Level I.   Students will begin to understand and convey information beyond themselves and their world (geography, directions, cultural and historical figures, places and events, health, travel and work, narrating events in the past and future).   Students will use and understand connected sentences and short paragraphs when speaking, reading and writing.  In addition, students will continue to develop cross‐cultural appreciation by learning the products, practices, and perspectives of the Spanish speaking world.This course is taught 90% in Spanish.

Spanish III

This is a third-year Spanish course in which students will continue to develop their proficiency in the language together with their understanding of Spanish-speaking culture. Building on the vocabulary and grammar learned in Spanish II, this course will help students develop the productive, receptive, and cultural skills useful in communicating with native speakers. Students will also be able to speak and write with more complexity, including conversations, journals, letters, interviews, and short essays. The instruction is conducted mostly in Spanish.

Spanish IV

Students will strengthen speaking, listening, reading and writing skills using a variety of authentic texts and real-life experiences in the language and cultures of the Spanish speaking world.  Students will continue to expand their knowledge of grammar, vocabulary and orthography at an advanced level.  Topics of study include Latin American history and archaeology, cultural practices, dialects of the Spanish speaking world, Magical Realism, professions, letter writing and technological innovations of the future.

Spanish IV Honors

This course is designed to build upon the skills already acquired in Level III.   Students will continue to progress toward a higher level of proficiency in the target language.  They will deepen their understanding and their ability to convey information about art, history, literature, music, current affairs, career choices, the environment and social issues.   Students will expand their use and understanding of connected sentences and short paragraphs when speaking, reading and writing.  Cultural and linguistic understanding will be increased through the use of authentic sources (reading, video, audio, Internet) and the study of the products, practices, and perspectives of the Spanish speaking world.

Advanced Placement Spanish Language and Culture

AP Spanish Language is the equivalent to a third year university Spanish course.  In this course students expand their knowledge of the Spanish language and cultures of the Spanish-speaking world through authentic content.  In addition, they strengthen their academic discourse and critical thinking skills through persuasive essays, analysis of text and recordings, formal correspondence, oral presentations, and structured class discussions.

Advanced Placement Spanish Literature and Culture

Students will further develop their Spanish proficiencies in reading, writing, speaking and listening with attention to critical reading and analytical writing. Students will read plays, novels, short stories and poems from Spain, Latin America and U.S. Hispanic literature. Students will reflect on the diverse voices and cultures represented in Hispanic literature and analyze the works within their literary, historical, sociocultural, and geopolitical contexts.

IB Spanish (Capuchino High School)

During the two years of the International Baccalaureate Program, students will complete their inventory of advanced grammatical structure and verb tenses. At the same time, they will sharpen their speaking and writing skills in preparation for the oral and written examinations of the IB. Students will extend their knowledge of the literature, film, music, current events, and culture of the francophone world. Special emphasis will be placed on topics which are important to adolescents, such as technology, entertainment, social issues and the environment.

Spanish for Native Speakers I

Content and Curriculum will focus on communication (basic academic reading, writing, speaking and listening skills), culture (practices and perspectives in Spanish speaking countries and other countries), connections (applying Spanish language to explore connections across curriculum) and comparisons (exploring similarities and differences between Spanish speaking cultures and other cultures such as English speaking cultures). Curriculum will focus on academic expectations in a new culture and school system; expanding academic vocabulary; complete sentence structure; comparisons of informal vs formal language; fiction and non-fiction reading comprehension; presentational as well as interpersonal speaking skills. The curriculum will include exploration of current culture and events from the Spanish-speaking world, Hispanic cultures and issues of identity of heritage speakers of Spanish in the United States, as well as historical and cultural materials as part of the students’ preparation for continued studies in the SNS program sequence.

Because heritage speakers of Spanish students may have widely varying educational backgrounds, teachers must adjust the vocabulary and content of this course to reflect developmentally appropriate interests. This course will be taught over one year. The introduction and integration of technology is an important tool in accessing Spanish resources and materials that reinforce the acquisition of academic language as well as introducing students to and practicing many of the tools they will need to navigate in order to be successful in all of their high school classes as well as life beyond high school.

Spanish for Native Speakers II

This course is tailored to build upon the existing skills of students who have Spanish as a primary language. Students will refine and expand their linguistic abilities. Areas of focus will include basic and advanced grammatical structure and orthography through reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Through a variety of media, students will also explore culture, geography, history, current events, and literature of the Spanish-speaking world.

Spanish for Native Speakers III

This course is tailored to build upon the existing skills of students who have Spanish as a primary language.  Students will refine and expand their linguistic abilities.  Areas of focus will include basic and advanced grammatical structure and spelling through reading, writing, speaking and listening.  Through a variety of media, students will also explore culture, geography, history, current events, and literature of the Spanish‐speaking world.  This class will be taught exclusively in Spanish.

District World Language Coordinators: 

Alejandra Cheever | Qi Fan


Department Chairs

Aragon: Alejandra Cheever | Qi Fan

Burlingame: Kent Robie

Capuchino: Liliana Klatt

Hillsdale: Michael Silva

Mills: Valerie Bolante | Carmel Turek

San Mateo: Amy Mitchell