Middle School Foreign Languages

Foreign language courses in Weston follow the proficiency model of foreign language instruction reflected in the Massachusetts State Curriculum Frameworks and the National Standards for Education. Students are presented with both grammar and vocabulary in context and are encouraged to express themselves in the target language independent of a text as soon as possible. Awareness of cultural differences and similarities is also essential to a complete language education. Interdisciplinary themes allow students to use the language they acquire to learn about their world in general. They also demonstrate a more authentic use for the language as a means of communicating important information.

While Latin does not require the same instructional shift from a more traditional methodology to the proficiency model as do Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and French, curricular objectives for Latin have been modified to make study of the language more relevant to students. Projects, games and historical lessons complement working with grammar and vocabulary, which is presented in context and in an age-appropriate manner. In addition, students learn to recognize parts of speech and vocabulary derivatives which enhance their understanding of their native language. Study skills are an essential part of the curriculum as well.

Benchmarks, Expectations, and Can-Do Statements

Spanish Gr. 6-8

French Gr. 7-8

Latin Gr. 7-8

Mandarin Gr. 7-8



Course M561   GRADE 6 SPANISH   Full Year
Sixth grade Spanish serves as a continuation of the elementary school Spanish program. Students will be taught to express themselves in the target language and comprehend simple statements, commands and descriptive passages. Grammar will be addressed only in context and grammatical accuracy will be secondary to general communication. Hands-on activities, games and songs will be used to reinforce the material. The ultimate goal of studying a second language at this grade level will be enjoyment of, awareness of the need for, and commitment to language study. This course will meet two periods each week.

Course M573   SPANISH NOVICE I   Full Year
Students in this Grade 7 course will continue their study of Spanish that began in the elementary schools. The course will meet four periods per week and the curriculum will build on students‘ previous learnings. Regular classroom instruction will be supplemented with work conducted in our digital language lab.

Students will be encouraged to use both grammar and vocabulary for self-expression and as communication tools for discussing work in other areas of study. Homework will be assigned on a daily basis, and more traditional and project-based assessments will replace the less formal methods used in Spanish classes at the elementary school level. An important focus of language education at this level will continue to be the acquisition of oral/aural skills. In addition, reading and writing will become a more integral part of instruction. Students will be introduced to linguistic structure as an abstract construct that enhances the precision of speech. Work in grammar and vocabulary will be supported by a traditional language text as well as by teacher-designed materials. Classes will be conducted as much as possible in Spanish, and the use of English will be reserved for more complex explanations of grammar or for ensuring student comprehension of less easily understood classroom procedures.

Course M581   SPANISH NOVICE II   Full Year
Prerequisite: Spanish Novice I
This Grade 8 course is designed for students who have successfully completed Spanish Novice I (Course M573). As is the case in Spanish Novice I, the class will be conducted primarily in the target language with English reserved for grammar explanations and for some classroom procedures. Weekly use of the digital language laboratory will supplement class work. The year will begin with a brief review of the material covered in Spanish I. However, at this level, our study will focus beyond everyday situations to include storytelling and histories, both personal and cultural, using the two past tense conjugations of verbs. Additionally, students‘ language production will be expanded to include command forms, all object pronouns and more idiomatic expressions.

Independent use of the language continues to be an overarching goal of the program, and students will be encouraged to speak and write creatively in Spanish. Reading and listening selections will provide cultural material from the Spanish speaking world as well as reinforcement of the grammar and vocabulary in each lesson. A traditional language text will serve as a guide for the work; however, much of the sequence and pacing is determined by the teacher in response to the needs of the class. Hands-on projects and interdisciplinary work will help students make connections between the language they are learning and other aspects of their lives. Whenever possible, native speakers will be invited to classes for both formal and informal presentations, and students will be encouraged to use their language skills in real life situations.
Students completing this level of language instruction will be prepared for the Intermediate level at the High School.

This Grade 7 course introduces students to basic concepts of language study, familiarizes them with the various French speaking cultures, and begins the process of building a foundation in vocabulary and grammar which will allow them to communicate in the target language. Traditional teacher-centered instruction will be supplemented with student projects, use of the language laboratory for both drill and listening comprehension exercises, and reading selections. Units of study will include telling time; describing themselves and their friends and families; ordering in a restaurant; and asking for and giving information with regard to weather, daily schedules and activities.
Students will be expected to master the simple present tense; however, as the need arises other tenses may be introduced for comprehension only. Even at this early stage of language acquisition, students will be encouraged to use the language independently to express themselves.


Course M570   FRENCH NOVICE I   Full Year

Course M580   FRENCH NOVICE II   Full Year
Prerequisite: French Novice I and teacher recommendation
Students in this Grade 8 course will expand their work with the language and culture by learning to express and comprehend simple command forms, personal preferences, object pronouns and many common idiomatic expressions. They also will begin their study of the simple past tense as it is used to tell stories, give personal histories, and describe occurrences in the past. Often major historical events from the target culture will be introduced at this point. Although vocabulary and grammar begun in Novice I will be reviewed, there will be an increase in both the pacing and amount of the material to be mastered.

Reading and listening selections, while carefully constructed to reinforce the material presented, will continue to provide challenges for student comprehension. Written and oral assignments will be designed to allow creative, contextualized use of the language.
French Novice II will be conducted entirely in the target language with English reserved only for complex explanations of grammatical structures.


Course M511   LATIN NOVICE I   Full Year
Students in this introductory Latin course will focus on the connections between Latin, English and the Romance languages; acquire basic vocabulary and grammar needed to read and comprehend the Latin language; and begin their study of ancient Roman history. In addition, students will explore such cultural topics as the study of Roman houses, families, geography, professions, theater and slavery. Traditional classroom instruction will be enhanced by hands-on projects that encourage the integration of language skills.

Course M512   LATIN NOVICE II   Full Year
Prerequisite: Latin Novice I and teacher recommendation
Latin Novice II will review all grammar and vocabulary taught in Latin Novice I and introduce more complex grammatical concepts needed to read, write, and comprehend modified Latin stories and passages. The course will continue to focus on Roman cultural topics, including religion and the stories of the Iliad, Odyssey and Aeneid. Emphasis will be placed on gaining mastery of the concepts of case and the ability to translate and comprehend with ease. Traditional classroom instruction will be supplemented by projects.

Mandarin Chinese

Prerequisite: None
This course is designed to reflect the proficiency-based orientation of all our oral foreign languages. Classes are instructed primarily in the target language, with English reserved for complex directions or for grammatical explanations not immediately obvious to young students. Producing and responding to simple instructions, expressing wants, exchanging greetings and limited personal information, counting, and naming common objects comprise the bulk of the linguistic goals of this year‘s study. Cultural information about China, a familiarity with the written language, and an understanding of both similarities and differences between Chinese language and culture and that of the United States are also critical components of our curricular design. As Mandarin is a particularly difficult language for speakers of English to master, students enrolling in this class must commit to a full two years of study before deciding to continue with Chinese or to change languages at the High School.

Course M513   GRADE 8 MANDARIN CHINESE II   Full Year
Prerequisite: Mandarin Chinese I
Building on the skills introduced in Mandarin Chinese I, students will add to their knowledge of the spoken and written language. Many of the topic areas covered in Mandarin I are revisited and expanded in the second year of the course. Again, the class is conducted primarily in Chinese, with English reserved for complex conceptual understanding. Entering students are expected to have mastered pin-yin, as well as sufficient characters to express the simple statements or questions presented in the previous year‘s study. Songs, simple traditional poetry, and folk stories adapted for beginning language learners serve as both a vehicle for developing additional linguistic skills and as an introduction to important components of Chinese culture and history. While the class continues to be teacher directed, independent projects, group projects and work in our digital language lab encourage students to use the language they are studying for creative self-expression.