BB&N has a rich history of providing its students with a wide range of choices when it comes to world language courses. These courses are designed to teach more than just grammar and vocabulary – they emphasize the importance of meaningful communication, literature, and culture. Studying a world language enables students to appreciate other cultures and civilizations through one of the most fundamental means of communication. The department believes that the ability to comprehend a civilization that is not one’s own, whether modern or classical, is invaluable for its humanizing and broadening effects, and for contributing to students’ global competency. Learning a new language brings students into contact with new ideas and exposes them to a more expansive view of the world.
The Lower School focuses on engaging students in the target language, with basic Spanish or French and age-appropriate activities that build vocabulary and comprehension skills, emphasizing listening and speaking, and incorporating cultural elements from around the world. In the Middle School, Latin is introduced as a third option, and all students continue their language-learning journey with in-depth exposure to grammar and oral proficiency while maintaining cultural understanding at the core of the Language Program. In the Upper School, Arabic, Chinese, and Russian are added to the portfolio of available languages, as well as the introduction of the Double Language Program option. Students aim to reach oral proficiency by the end of their fourth year, with upper-level classes offering experiential learning through discussion-based learning units.