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Academics
Academics
Berwick Academy Foreign Language Departmental Vision
Grades 5-12:

The Berwick Academy Foreign Language Department is committed to promoting linguistic and cultural competence through a Pre-K – grade 12 approach. We recognize that “to study another language and culture gives one the powerful key to successful communication:
knowing how, when and why to say what to whom.” (National Standards for Foreign Language Learning, 1996, p.11)  We strive to develop proficiency in the four skills (speaking, reading, writing and listening) of the target language in order to instill in our students a global mindset, cultural awareness and communicative abilities.


Upper School Philosophy:

The mission of the Upper School Foreign Language Department is to provide students with a rigorous program wherein they can dedicate themselves to gaining proficiency in at least one other language, while also acquiring knowledge of other countries, their cultures and a broader understanding of the world. In modern language classrooms we use the target language as the sole means of teacher-student and student-student communication. We integrate the four language skills into our activities and assessments, and strive to make language-learning accessible for students of all backgrounds and abilities. Our language classes include relevant and engaging activities such as interviews, presentations, small group work, games, skits, research, recordings, viewing of films. We strive to provide real-life contexts for students as they negotiate meaning. Aside from our academic courses, we offer international travel opportunities, Honor Societies, a Foreign Film Club, a school-wide Language Day, National Exams/Competitions administration, and also support study abroad experiences.
 

Upper School Language Courses

List of 19 items.

  • French III

    Grammar, especially verbs, will be reviewed and perfected.  Emphasis is on development of listening comprehension and written skills and the ability to eliminate a dependency on English.  In addition to the grammar text, Poursuite Inattendue will be used to develop listening and vocabulary recognition skills, with the addition of Le Petit Nicolas in the second half of the year. The final 6 chapters of Bon Voyage, Level 2 are completed. Honors option available which would include peer tutoring of other students, extra sections on most exams, and require a higher level of participation and of quality in written work.
  • French IV Honors

    A fourth-year honors level course for students who have completed the 3-year language requirement, this course focuses on the advanced written and oral components of the language. The course offers review, polishing and expansion of French grammar and vocabulary, with the goal being to improve the student’s ability to use the language more effectively in real life situations. There is also expanded cultural and historical study of francophone countries.
  • French V Honors; Advanced Competency in French Language and Literature

    To finish out a fifth advanced year of French, this course will allow students to enhance all their language skills in such a way they each could, if desired, take the AP exam in May.  However, the focus in this most advanced course will be based on French culture and history from the 17th through the 20th century, enriched by literary and film selections as the basis for more accomplished writing and speaking.
  • Latin I

    Latin I introduces the student to the classical language which is the basis of so much of our English language and to the people who had so great an influence on the society of the western hemisphere.  Formal work in grammar and syntax is taught to enable the learner to read simple Latin, and to prepare him/her for further progress in the following years.  Emphasis is placed on an increased English vocabulary through the study of Latin roots. This introduction to the study of Latin is for beginning students and for those who have previously studied Latin but not enough to enter Latin II.  This course will also cover Roman civilization: art, architecture, mythology, and the like. In the first and third trimesters the student will be required to research a topic of their own choosing and create a project and present it to the class. 
  • Latin II

    This course continues the traditional approach begun in Latin I completing the essential grammar, particularly the subjunctive constructions. The remainder of the year is devoted to reading prose authors of increasing complexity, usually Perseus, Jason and the Argonauts, The Twelve Labors of Hercules, Ulysses, and Caesar’s Gallic Wars.
  • Latin III

    Latin III is an advanced prose reading course primarily devoted to studying and analyzing the political, legal, and philosophical works of Cicero. Those to be read include: In Catilinam I, II, III, IV and Pro Lege Manilia. Should time allow, the end of the year will be spent reading select passages from Petronius’ Satyricon and Pliny the Younger’s Eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
  • Latin IV Honors

    This is a non-required elective course for advanced students committed to intense continued work in Latin.  Advanced work in understanding literature and history, particularly Ovid, Catullus, Horace, and Vergil, are stressed with intensive vocabulary and grammar work and the scansion of poetry. Students enrolling in Latin IV should take the SAT II Latin exam, either in the current year or in their senior year. 
  • Latin V Honors

    This course is designed to allow qualified students who are passionate about Latin to continue to a higher level of inquiry. A significant portion of the program presents a wide variety of Latin literature by other authors not yet studied. By this time, students should be able to approach Latin literature on an advanced level and be able to analyze the styles and motivations of the various authors. Readings are selected from four areas: lyric poetry and epigrams (Catullus, Horace, and Martial); philosophical and scientific observations (Cicero’s De Senectute and the Elder Pliny’s Historia Naturalis); lesser known Latin (including medieval works and the Bayeux tapestry); and music.
  • Mandarin I

    This course is designed to introduce students to the unique Chinese language and culture. With the importance of empathy towards others and gaining a deeper understanding of a different culture as the foundation for the class, students will develop the skills necessary to use Mandarin in their daily life. The course starts with an introduction to pinyin, the phonetic system of Mandarin, and moves on to basic skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing. The main goal of this class is to help students develop a strong foundational knowledge of the language to provide a solid base for future study. By the end of the course, students will be able to recognize and write characters, hold simple conversations using basic vocabulary and grammar structures, and be acquainted with different aspects of Chinese culture and society. The textbook used in this course is Chinese Link Level 1, Part 1.
  • Mandarin II

    This course is a continuation from Chinese I, with an increased learning of characters, grammar, and authentic expressions used in daily communication. The course also prioritizes a more in depth exploration of Chinese culture and encourages students to better understand China’s role in the modern world. Speaking, reading, listening and writing will be equally emphasized and learned in a communicative context in order to prepare students to use the language in more realistic contexts. By the end of the course, students will be able to recognize and write more complex characters, hold conversations about daily life using appropriate vocabulary and grammar structures, and be comfortable with participating in and exploring different aspects of Chinese culture through in-class and extracurricular activities. The textbook used in this course is Chinese Link Level 1, Part 2. 
  • Mandarin III

    Mandarin III is an advanced Chinese course devoted primarily to reading and discussing literature and culturally related topics in Chinese. The main purposes of this course are to enlarge students’ vocabulary, to increase students’ reading speed, to improve students’ reading comprehension, to maintain students’ conversation skills through class presentation and class discussion, and to enhance students’ writing ability through composition assignments, and a writing project. The textbook used in this course is Chinese Link Level 2, Part 1.
  • Mandarin Advanced Oral Expression

    A fourth-year course for students who have completed the 3-year language requirement, this course focuses on the oral components of the language. By the end of the year, students are expected to speak and listen in Mandarin throughout the school year both inside and outside of the classroom. The course offers some review and expansion of Mandarin grammar and vocabulary with the goal being to improve the student’s ability to use the language more effectively in real life situations. A significant part of the grade for this course comes from prepared oral presentations as well as spontaneous dialogue, oral exercises and conversations in class. The textbook is Chinese Link, Level 2, Part 2.
  • Spanish I

    The purpose of this course is to introduce the students to elementary concepts of Spanish grammar and vocabulary through conversations and written exercises in class.  Much emphasis is placed on speaking, listening, and understanding the Spanish language. In addition, reading and writing skills are emphasized in homework assignments. Cultural exploration of the Spanish speaking world plays an important and active role in the classroom. This course is taught in Spanish as much as possible. 
  • Spanish II

    Students continue to strengthen all four language skills. More complex structures are introduced and students’ vocabulary is expanded.  Classes are conducted as much as possible in Spanish, and students are expected to use the target language whenever possible.  Appropriate reading passages and longer written work is expected. Listening comprehension is emphasized and students are expected to prepare for oral assessments. 
  • Spanish III

    Spanish III is an immersion Spanish course.  Students are expected to speak and listen in Spanish throughout the school year.  Spanish III students read several short cultural reading assignments that relate to vocabulary or grammar that they are studying. Previously-learned grammar is reviewed more in-depth in level III.  The course introduces new and more advanced grammar concepts.  By the end of the year, all verb tenses will have been covered in this course.  The vocabulary is more detailed and a higher level than previous vocabulary. Students speak the language casually in every day classes, and are expected to prepare for oral assessments. 
  • Spanish III Honors

    Spanish III Honors is an immersion Spanish course.  Students are expected to speak and listen in Spanish throughout the school year both inside and outside of the classroom while communicating with the instructor and each other.  Spanish III Honors students read several short cultural reading assignments with some facilitation from the instructor.  Toward the end of the year, they build the skills and confidence to read longer and more complex reading assignments with limited guidance from the instructor.  Their comprehension is assessed by summarizing these reading assignments verbally or in writing or by taking a quiz on the reading.  Previously-learned grammar is reviewed more quickly in Spanish III Honors and new concepts are introduced early in the year.  The vocabulary is more detailed than previous Spanish courses.  It is expected that the honors section has a strong grasp on old vocabulary words and are able to use them along with the new words in context.  Students work on several short essays and written assignments and are held accountable for new and old grammar.  By the end of the year, students will incorporate most grammatical concepts into their essays.  Students speak the language casually in every day classes and are expected to prepare oral interviews and quizzes more frequently than in the regular Spanish III section. All students will have covered some advanced Spanish grammar by the end of this course and they will have learned all verb tenses. 
  • Spanish Cultural Studies

    The Spanish IV: Cultural Studies course is a yearlong course conducted entirely in Spanish.  The class explores a variety of topics from around the Spanish-speaking world and through a variety of mediums including short stories, film, poetry, essays and art.  Topics range from the Spanish conquest of the Americas to the Dirty War of Argentina and everything in between.   Classes are discussion based and students are expected to converse regularly.  Students are assessed in a number of ways including oral presentations, interviews, video projects, analytical essays, creative writing and more traditional tests.  Occasional 1-2 week grammar units are included throughout the year.  
  • Spanish IV Honors: Advanced Topics

    This is a fourth year honors-level course for advanced students committed to intense continued work in Spanish. This class is conducted entirely in Spanish. Compositions, research projects, oral presentations and/or creative writing are frequently required in order to develop all four language skills. Advanced conversation and listening comprehension are stressed. The main text for the class is an online version of TEMAS. The first three themes are tackled in detail. Students complete and submit textbook and workbook exercises online to the instructor which include, but are not limited to, oral presentations, grammar activities, reading comprehension assignments, responses to video and audio selections, email responses, and investigations. 
  • AP Spanish

    This course is designed to prepare students for the Advanced Placement Spanish Language and Culture Exam and to continue their Spanish studies beyond the Advanced level. An AP course is a college-level course requiring extra time and commitment from the student. Students will be expected to complete required summer work before the beginning of the course as well.  AP Spanish: Preparing for the Language and Culture Examination is used throughout the year to familiarize students with the AP testing formats, directions, and sources. The main text for the class is an online version of TEMAS, Themes 4-6. Students complete and submit textbook and workbook exercises online to the instructor. Other activities, such as a study of proverbs, essay writing, Spanish-language music activities and various games are woven in throughout the year to broaden the student’s perspective and experiences in the language. Students who take this course are required to take the College Board Advanced Placement Exam and will be expected to take the SAT II Spanish subject test.

Serving Maine, The Seacoast of New Hampshire, and the North Shore of Massachusetts

Berwick Academy is Maine's oldest, independent Pre-K through Post Graduate private school. Our community is dynamic, offering challenging academics, competitive athletics, and creative arts programs. Members of the community operate within a context of caring and respect as we pursue our quest for "useful knowledge" as "one school with three divisions." Students and faculty are encouraged to expand their horizons by balancing academics with athletic, dramatic, and musical options.