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.
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 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
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.
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 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.
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.
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.