Language Courses

Berkshire offers Chinese, French, Latin and Spanish courses at all levels. Below are descriptions of each level and any prerequisite information. 


Chinese I is an introductory Mandarin Chinese course designed for students with no Chinese background. This course provides basic training in listening, speaking, reading and writing Mandarin Chinese. The goal of this course is to lay a solid foundation for further Chinese language study and to strive for well-round development of communicative skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing as well as developing an understanding of Chinese culture.


Students continue to develop their communication skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing via student centered activities. Chinese word-processing is introduced. Students learn Chinese culture by reading, watching Chinese movies and doing cultural research projects. The goal of this course is to lay a solid foundation for further Chinese language study and to develop well-round communication skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing as well as developing an understanding of Chinese culture.


Chinese III aims to continue to develop the students' communicative skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing in Mandarin Chinese through task-based activities. Students start to read Chinese without Pinyin except for new words. Common idioms and ancient stories behind them are introduced and students continue to gain a better understanding of Chinese culture.


Chinese IV promotes mastery of the language beyond the three-year language requirement and prepares students for further language studies in college. All the reading will be in Chinese characters with more sophisticated grammar and syntax. The goal is to further enhance students’ linguistic skills as well as their appreciation for Chinese language and culture. Modern prose is introduced.


Chinese V emphasizes and integrates the 5Cs principles of the National Standards for Foreign Language Education: Communication, Cultures, Comparisons, Connections and Communities as well as Berkshire School’s own curriculum goals by emphasizing the five core skills of communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and community. The goal of the course is to prepare students for further Chinese studies at college. Formal expressions are introduced and students are exposed to “media literacy.” Multimedia is used often for Chinese language and cultural understanding.


This introductory course is designed for students who have had no previous instruction in Spanish or for those in need of additional study before meeting the demands of Spanish II. The course emphasizes the acquisition of basic oral and literacy skills by teaching the use of Spanish in daily situations such as meeting people, telling time, expressing likes and dislikes, and going shopping. Students are expected to participate actively in class and to be adventurous in the usage of simple expressions and verbs.

SPANISH II (Regular and Advanced)

Spanish II continues to develop oral and listening proficiency, literacy skills and cultural knowledge through a variety of activities. The course focuses on the continued acquisition of grammar structures and vocabulary and covers the following topics: imperfect, imperfect/preterite contrast, subjunctive, perfect tenses, future, and conditional. Thematic vocabulary is integrated into each lesson. The use of audio and visual materials in class, as well as in the Language Lab, encourages conversation in the target language. Spanish culture, art history and literature are incorporated extensively through supplementary readings and multimedia activities.

SPANISH III (Regular and Advanced)

Spanish III students continue to develop strong listening, oral, reading and writing skills by intensive immersion in a language classroom conducted completely in Spanish. After a comprehensive review during the first few weeks, emphasis is placed on a systematic review of Spanish grammar and the acquisition of the subjunctive. Emphasis is also placed on studying Hispanic culture and society through short films, reading and discussion, and extensive use of the Language Lab.


Spanish V focuses on the dual themes of our place in society and how external factors influence our development as human beings. Students read from works such as El Ingeniosos Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes, Doña Perfecta by Benito Pérez Galdós, Romancero Gitano by Federico García Lorca, Canto General by Pablo Neruda as well as selections from Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Jose Donoso, Gabriel García Márquez, and others. They also watch and discuss films and study current world events. Writing essays and giving oral presentations about the topics covered in class allows students to continue improving their writing and speaking skills. Qualified students may take the AP Spanish Language Exam with permission of the instructor.

Prerequisite: Spanish IV and permission of the Department


The AP Spanish course is designed to strengthen the four core language skills (speaking, listening, writing, and reading) that students have developed over the years, and to prepare them for the AP Spanish Language examination. Students read selected literary works and articles, listen to dialogues and short narratives, write essays regularly, and watch newscasts, documentaries and other programs from Spanish television. Since the course is conducted entirely in Spanish, students are required to speak only Spanish for the duration of the class.

Prerequisite: Permission of the Department

SPANISH IV (Regular and Advanced)

This course is designed for students with at least three years of experience in the language. Emphasis is placed on the acquisition of strong oral skills and guided conversation. Students will read a series of short stories focusing on common social situations. The stories always place importance on cultural, social and grammatical aspects of the language. Students are expected to participate actively in class and to be adventurous in the usage of new expressions and verbs.


This introductory course is designed for students who have had no previous instruction in French or those in need of additional study before meeting the demands of French II. Students will develop a strong foundation through exposure to the four core language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students will learn to appreciate different French cultures around the world, and communicate in simple terms through interactive and cooperative learning. Literature, art history, film, and current media sources are incorporated extensively in this course.

FRENCH II (Regular and Advanced)

French II continues to emphasize the four core language skills with increased attention to grammar and pronunciation. Students communicate in both simple and complex sentences with a rich vocabulary. Communication skills are expanded with the goal of oral fluency and improved writing. Students begin to compose short essays in French and to read selected excerpts from various Francophone authors. French culture and civilization are studied in great detail through art history, film, and literary sources. The regular use of digital media is frequently integrated into the course.

FRENCH III (Regular and Advanced)

French III students continue to increase their proficiency in oral communication, reading and writing. They learn to express themselves in many ways in most of the tenses and with a richer vocabulary. They describe their likes and dislikes, analyze some of La Comtesse de Ségur’s short stories and read Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Students work towards a mastery of listening and reading comprehension, grammar, and writing.

FRENCH IV (Regular and Advanced)

French IV students continue to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to speak French clearly and to read and write it critically. They watch live French newscasts, learn to analyze a text in the target language, and to express themselves clearly and expressively. They are able to hold a conversation, report clearly on an event, and discuss and debate ideas in all of the tenses. Since all classes are taught entirely in French, students who master French IV are able to function and interact easily in any French-speaking country.


The AP French Language & Culture course is designed to elevate the students’ communicative and analytical skills, improve their cultural awareness, and prepare them for the interpersonal, interpretive and presentational modes of communication demanded by the AP exam. Students are immersed in the French language during class, and they engage in many activities designed to improve their oral fluency. French, as an expression of the Francophone cultures in this interconnected world, creates a bond with those diverse communities for students along the way. The speaking, reading and written elements of the AP course centers around global challenges, science and technology, contemporary life, personal and public identities, families and communities, and finally beauty and aesthetics.

Prerequisite: Four years of high school French and permission of the Department.


Latin I is designed for students who have had no previous instruction in Latin. Students receive a thorough grounding in basic grammatical forms, including the five noun declensions and agreement of nouns and adjectives; pronouns; and the six verb tenses in the active and passive voice as well as elementary vocabulary. Students also learn about Roman civilization and the importance of the Latin language in Western culture.


Students in Latin II complete their study of basic Latin grammar and syntax, as well as expanding their vocabulary. Students begin to read extended prose passages to prepare them for reading classical Latin prose in their third year.


Students in Latin III undertake a comprehensive review of basic Latin grammar and vocabulary in the first semester. Students read the First and Third Catilinarian orations of Cicero during the second semester. Students also study Roman oratory and the general principles of rhetoric.


Students electing Latin IV are committed to developing a mastery of the language beyond the three-year language requirement. Latin IV is primarily a literature course which focuses on Latin poetry. The lyric poetry of Catullus and Horace or Vergil’s Aeneid are offered in alternate years. This format allows students to take five years of Latin if they wish. Topics include the literary and historical contexts of the poetry, the language peculiar to each poet, and the various meters of Latin lyric and epic poetry. The primary aim of the course is to develop a critical understanding of Latin poetry.

Berkshire School

245 North Undermountain Road
 |  Sheffield, MA 01257
 |  T: 413 229 8511

Berkshire School is a co-ed, New England college preparatory boarding and day school offering a rigorous academic course of study in the northeast United States. Our campus, located in Massachusetts, has state-of-the-art academic, artistic and athletic facilities on a stunning 400-acre campus in the Berkshires.

Berkshire School received 5 out of 5 stars from over 3 Google reviews.
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