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World Languages

In philosophy, the Department of World Languages and Cultures believes that direct acquaintance, through language, with the varied cultures and peoples of this world provides students with an experience of inestimable value. Learning other languages and understanding the culture of the people who speak them is a 21st Century skill that is vital to success in the global environment in which our students will live and work. Clearly, language education is critical to our students’ success in the world of the future: a world that will insist upon their need to interact effectively with others who do not speak English.

At CSN, language communication, while definitely a central goal, is not the only focus of study in world language courses. Additionally important is culture, focusing on the history, literature, civilization, and contemporary mores of the world communities speaking these languages. Students gain an understanding of the global and personal perspectives of target language communities, enabling them to establish connections with and make comparisons to their own community and culture, leading to greater international understanding.

It is also our philosophy and a primary expectation, as recommended by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, that teachers use the target language 90% of the time in their instruction and that students be encouraged and required to communicate in the language while in class (except for Latin, a classical language), both in interactions with the teacher and with one another. Research indicates that effective language instruction must provide significant levels of meaningful communication and interactive feedback in the target language in order for students to develop language and cultural proficiency.

Currently CSN offers full programs of modern language study in Spanish and French, from the entry levels, where initiates acquire language structures, to the third level and beyond, where students apply language communication to topical studies in themes of everyday life, global issues, literature, and civilization. The Chinese program constitutes a third option in modern language study. Furthermore, students may study Latin in conjunction with or in lieu of modern languages.

CSN students are required to take three upper school level courses in a modern language or Latin. The sequence of courses is determined by the successful completion of prior courses according to proficiency achieved in the three modes of communication, not by grade level. In honors classes the linear progression of the course is extended, and the students are taught at an accelerated pace with more cognitively challenging strategies. Advanced Placement courses provide students with rigorous instruction and therefore, are intended for juniors and seniors. To access honors classes, and most particularly AP courses, students must have teacher recommendations based on past performance and proficiency level. Students must possess academic maturity and a strong work ethic, and they must demonstrate exceptional talent for world language learning. In addition, students may be asked by the language department to sit for a placement test.

For rising ninth graders who began language studies prior to Upper School classes, students are placed in classes as warranted by placement examination results, teacher recommendations, and standardized testing. CSN reserves the right to place students according to the judgment of the Upper School academic department and the Dean of Academic Affairs.