BB&N has a long tradition of offering its students a wide range of choices of world language courses. These courses teach not only grammar and vocabulary, but they emphasize the significance of communication, literature and culture. And BB&N has long distinguished itself among its peer schools for offering three less commonly taught languages—Chinese, Arabic, and Russian. World language study enables the student to appreciate other cultures and civilizations through the most fundamental means of communication. Emphasis is put on meaningful oral communication: classes are taught in the target languages and students aim to reach oral proficiency by the end of their fourth year, so upper-level classes offer experiential learning through project-based learning units. The department believes that the ability to comprehend a civilization not one's own, be it modern or classical, is invaluable for its humanizing and broadening effects and contributing to students' global competency. Knowledge of languages brings students into contact with new ideas and exposes them to a more expansive view of the world. All languages offer student-led clubs, as well as cultural and linguistic immersion trip and exchanges abroad.
All students must take three full, consecutive years of the same language in the Upper School to fulfill their World Languages graduation requirement. Students must take a language course through Grade 11, completing at least level three of a language.
Students who previously studied a language not offered at BB&N and are new to the school in Grade 11 need to successfully complete two full years of the same language at BB&N. New students repeating Grade 11 must take a language course in Grade 11 and complete at least level three of language at BB&N; alternatively, these students may take and successfully pass a new language for two years.
The Upper School offers six languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, Latin, Russian, and Spanish. World Languages offer first, second, third, fourth, and fifth year language study. In addition, French, Latin, and Spanish have Honors sections starting in the second and third year, as well as upper-level electives (described below). Chinese has an Honors section starting in the third year. Chinese, French, Latin, and Spanish offer Advanced Placement level courses.
Double Language Program
A student who completes seven years or more of language study during Grades 9 – 12 qualifies as a Double Language Student. Only courses taken at BB&N or a previous secondary school (for students new to the School in Grades 10 or 11 only) fulfill the seven-year requirement. Courses taken with Global Online Academy do not fulfill any part of the seven-year requirement.
BB&N Language Scholar Program
A student who completes study in a primary language to the highest level offered (depending on the language); completes study in a secondary language to the third level (III) or the fourth level (IV) for a student who begins in the second level (II) in Grade 9; and earns a B or above for final grades in every year studied) will be recognized as a BB&N Language Scholar. Language Scholars are expected to continue in their Advanced Placement courses through the end of senior year (through Senior Spring Project) and to take the Advanced Placement exam in May. Only courses taken at BB&N or a previous secondary school (for students new to the School in Grades 10 or 11 only) fulfill the requirement for the BB&N Language Scholar Program. Courses taken with Global Online Academy do not fulfill any part of the BB&N Language Scholar requirement.
Global Exchange Ambassador Program
The Global Exchange Ambassador Program seeks to recognize students who commit to and engage deeply in a BB&N World Languages Exchange Program. The Global Exchange Ambassador Program has limited enrollment for students in Spanish, French, and Russian who wish to complete extensive preparation for their respective cultural exchange program and also reflect upon the experience afterwards. To receive the Global Exchange Ambassador designation on the transcript, students must be accepted into the program through an application process (which takes place during the spring prior to the exchange program) and satisfactorily complete all aspects of the program (including attendance on the exchange program, six to eight additional meetings per year, independent research on a topic of the student's choosing, completion of a portfolio, and a final presentation).
The first third of this course is dedicated to the mastery of the phonetics and phonology of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). The Arabic I course focuses on the development of vocabulary, as well as analyzing and producing basic structures in speaking, reading, writing, and listening. Throughout the application of the language, students use texts, articles, the Internet, audio-visual materials, and discussion to create a geographical and cultural context for the language. Additionally, a passive familiarity with regional variation establishes a framework for Arabic language in practice.
Building on skills from Arabic I, Arabic II students increase the subtlety of their communication with expanded vocabulary and complex structures. Students actively engage with the pattern and root system that serves as the underpinning of Arabic word meaning. They continue to work with authentic materials from across the Arabic-speaking world. Presentations and projects reinforce cultural material and strengthen fluency throughout the year. This course aims to increase students’ cultural competency in Arab cultures and prepare them for interaction with native speakers.
Building on the skills from Arabic I and II, students delve deeper into the Arabic language with more focus on reading and listening to authentic material. Their vocabulary expansion at this level equips them to communicate at levels outside of their immediate surroundings. Cultural presentations, written essays, and skit performances enhance and strengthen their fluency. This course engages students at an intermediate level.
Having mastered the core structures and concepts of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), students in Arabic IV contextualize and expand their knowledge as the class journeys across the Arab world through film, television, news, art, and literature. An emphasis on various spoken dialects allows students to gain a sense of variation within the vastly diverse geography of the Middle East and North Africa. This course is a window into the many manifestations of Arabic language and how they connect back to the essential structure and meaning found in MSA.
This course is designed for students with no previous background in Mandarin Chinese. Students are introduced to and concentrate on pronunciation and the four tones through intensive phonetic and sentence-pattern drills. Audio and video recordings, Chinese computer software, and other aids are used. Students are expected to learn basic structures of Mandarin Chinese and to acquire a basic oral competency in simple daily communications. Students learn approximately 500 simplified characters and acquire a proficiency in reading and writing in simplified characters. Exposure to Chinese history, culture, and geography is also provided.
Chinese II is a continuation of Chinese I, conducted in pinyin and simplified characters. The goal of this course is to develop a solid grammatical base and a strong listening and speaking ability. Audio and video recordings, and oral and written exercises with increasing complexity help students attain a higher level of competency in the language. Students learn approximately 500 characters and increase their vocabulary to nearly 1,000 words. Students also read and write short compositions either in pinyin or characters and further their study of Chinese culture.
Chinese III/Chinese III (Honors)
This course helps students learn complex sentence patterns and vocabulary. Short newspaper articles, simplified literary works, and video and audio recordings supplement the text. Oral proficiency and grammatical accuracy are emphasized. Students learn approximately 500 characters, increase their vocabulary to nearly 1,500 words, and type short papers in Chinese characters.
Prerequisite for Chinese III (Honors): Chinese II and approval of the World Languages Department
While oral proficiency continues to be emphasized, attention in this course is given to reading and writing. Character-only materials replace character-pinyin texts. Students increase their character vocabulary to 2,000 words and learn to write with 300 characters.
Advanced Placement Chinese Language and Culture
Students who take this course follow the College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) Chinese Language and Culture curriculum. This course focuses on increasing the students’ level of Chinese proficiency across three communication modes (interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational) while interweaving Chinese culture throughout the course. Texts and supplementary materials are carefully selected or edited from authentic sources to support the linguistic and cultural goals of this course.
Prerequisite: Chinese III (Honors) and approval of the World Languages Department
Chinese V (Honors)
Chinese V (Honors) is a full-year elective for qualified students who are interested in perfecting their study of Chinese language and culture. In this course, students continue to build upon their language skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Texts of greater complexity and various styles are introduced to students in the cultural context of Chinese-speaking societies. At the end of this course, students are able to communicate, in both spoken and written Chinese, at the intermediate- to mid-level of proficiency, as defined by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. This course is entirely conducted in Chinese. This course is also open to Chinese-heritage students, upon approval of the World Languages Department, who want to have one year of advanced study in Chinese after fulfilling their BB&N World Languages graduation requirements.
Prerequisite: Advanced Placement Chinese and approval of the World Languages Department
French I is an introductory course of French language and culture. Students develop skills in the four language modalities (speaking, listening, reading, and writing). Emphasis is put on meaningful oral communication as well as accuracy of expression. Students develop basic structured sentences and acquire vocabulary to ask questions and provide information on likes and dislikes, personal and school life, family and friends, and travel and vacation. Interactive and group activities, audio and video recordings, and online material are regularly used in and outside the classroom. This first-year course also provides a general overview of the geography and cultures of the French-speaking world through readings and videos. By the end of the year, this course is taught mostly in French.
French II offers a comprehensive review of introductory French while expanding and presenting structures, vocabulary, and cultural material suited for intermediate levels. Students acquire a solid grammatical base, a stronger listening comprehension, and more fluent speech. Students also acquire proficiency in reading short texts and writing simple compositions in French. The goal of the course is to develop the four linguistic skills (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) and to help students gain an understanding and appreciation of the French language, people, and culture. This course is based on the use of a grammar book and some short reading comprehension texts, supplemented by the use of films, podcasts, CDs, projects, and online material. This course is conducted in French.
French II (Honors)
Students in the French II (Honors) course complete the French II curriculum at a more rapid pace. In addition, they study an intensive and extensive grammar program. Students are encouraged to use the language creatively and apply basic conversational patterns of French speech towards functional communication. They complete the reading of Le Petit Prince by Saint-Exupery in its original version accompanied with audio and video material. They study L. Malle’s film Au Revoir les Enfants without subtitles, and they watch other French movies such as Kirikou et la Sorcière and Une vie de chat. Students read and research various works from French-speaking authors around the world. This course is conducted in French.
Prerequisite: French I and approval of the World Languages Department
French III offers a comprehensive review of intermediate French. Students continue to refine the skills necessary to acquire proficiency in the language. This course provides further practice in speaking and listening, as students are expected to participate and to present research and projects in French. Students also continue their grammar study and are encouraged to apply their knowledge in a meaningful context through their written work. Students read poems from the French-speaking world, read authentic texts in the target language such as Goscinny’s Le Petit Nicolas, and study films such as Intouchables. This course is conducted entirely in French.
French III (Honors)
Students in the French III (Honors) course complete the French III curriculum at a more rapid pace. This course includes an in-depth grammar review and the reading of a complete work of French literature, Rhinocéros, a play by Eugene Ionesco, as well as a selection of shorter texts, articles, poems, and stories (by Guy de Maupassant and others). Students improve their writing, comprehension skills, and oral fluency through conversation, expository writing, listening to songs, watching and analyzing films, and acting out scenes from the various literary works. This course is conducted exclusively in French.
Prerequisite: French II (Honors) and approval of the World Languages Department
This course is open to students from French III and French III (Honors) who want to practice and refine their speaking and writing skills as an alternative to the Advanced Placement (AP) French Language and Culture course. One class each week is dedicated to the review of essential grammar points though the emphasis of this course is on oral conversation and interactive activities. This course utilizes newspaper articles, online material, films, songs, games, projects, and group work. Through the use of these different media, students discuss various topics related to contemporary French society and Francophone cultures around the world. This course is conducted exclusively in French and students are expected to make every effort to use French.
Advanced Placement French Language and Culture
Students in this course study the four language skills (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) utilizing six major themes (World Challenges, Science and Technology, Modern Life, Identity, Family and Community, and Aesthetics). Students complete a variety of individual and group activities, as well as research, bringing them from proficiency to fluency. They examine authentic documents from various media such as newspapers, podcasts, or the Internet, and they use computers and iPads to enhance their learning. This course also refines the students’ study of literature through the reading of poems and books such as L’école des Femmes by Molière and L’Étranger by Camus. Students explore culture through films such as Entre les Murs. Throughout the course of the year, each student completes an in-depth study of a French-speaking country. Teacher and students use French exclusively in this course. This course prepares students to take the Advanced Placement French Language and Culture exam in May.
Prerequisite: French III (Honors) or French IV and approval of the World Languages Department
French V (Advanced): Cinema for French Conversation
This course is an elective cinema course that culminates in the making of a movie that is written and performed in French and filmed by the students themselves. Emphasis is placed on conversation through interactive activities drawn from the study of French films. This includes group research, oral presentations, debating the issues presented in a film, and exploring cultural units related to the film. The films are chosen based on their historical, literary, linguistic, or geographical significance and may vary from year to year. Recent selections include Monsieur Ibrahim, Welcome, Le Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain, Jean de Florette, La Veuve de Saint-Pierre, and Cyrano de Bergerac. Teacher and students use French exclusively in this course. This course is open to students in French IV who want to practice and refine their listening and speaking skills. Students from the Advancement Placement French Language and Culture course may be accepted with approval of the World Languages Department.
French V (Honors): Culture and Cuisine in Films and Fiction
This is an elective French language and culture course in which students use literature and cinema to examine the role, the importance, and the evolution of food in French society. Students continue to develop and refine their reading and writing skills with the in-depth study of a complete work (Cyrano de Bergerac by E. de Rostand) and excerpts from other classical and contemporary authors. Emphasis is placed on oral fluency through conversation, discussion, and the study of authentic French movies (Les Saveurs du Palais, Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain). Using the class’ interactive website, students work in groups on project-based units: they produce a film festival, explore a local food market, take a cooking class, organize a food tasting, and conclude the course by writing, performing, and filming a cooking show. Teacher and students use French exclusively in this course.
Prerequisite: Advanced Placement French Language and Culture or fluency in French and approval of the World Languages Department
Latin I introduces the Latin language including the four verb conjugations and the five noun declensions. Students read simple adapted Latin while learning the rules of grammar and syntax. Students also learn basic elements of Roman civilization including mythology, the Roman house, and Roman history. Each student works on a project of their choosing and presents to the class.
Latin II beings with a rapid review of Latin fundamentals, after which the class masters the vocabulary, grammar, and syntax in Chapter 25 – 50 of Jenney’s First Year Latin. Students read adapted selections of Ritche’s Fabulae Faciles and other suitable texts in order to hone their skills as translators. The majority of the readings deal with Roman mythology, culture, and history.
Latin II (Honors)
After a rapid review of Latin I, students master the vocabulary, grammar, and syntax in Chapters 25 – 55 of Jenney’s First Year Latin. Students read increasingly longer selections from Sarah Roche’s Libellus as well as short passages from Martial and adapted passages from other authors. Students complete projects on topics of Roman culture, architecture, and history.
Prerequisite: Latin I and approval of the World Languages Department
Latin III is a prose Latin course moving from adapted Latin reading about early Roman history and culture to the unadapted reading of Caesar. Students may read Livy, Plautus, Petronius, and other authors. Students learn the history of Republican and Imperial Rome. They also study cultural, topographical, and biographical material. Students complete projects on the topics of Roman history, culture, and architecture.
Latin III (Honors)
Latin III (Honors) is a prose Latin course moving from adapted Latin reading about early Roman history and culture to the unadapted reading of Caesar’s Bello Gallico. In the third trimester, students translate Cicero’s First Catilinarian in concert with Sallust’s Bellum Catilinae. Students learn some of the history of Republican and Imperial Rome. They also study cultural, topographical, and biographical material. Students complete projects on the topics of Roman history, culture, and architecture.
Prerequisite: Latin II (Honors) and approval of the World Languages Department
Students in Latin IV study Roman poetry, including authors such as Ovid, Vergil, Catullus, and Horace. To deepen their understanding of Latin literature, students study dactylic hexameter, read scholarly articles, and learn rhetorical device. To further hone their agility with the language, students learn advanced aspects of Latin prose composition.
Advanced Placement Latin
Students who take this course follow the College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) Latin curriculum. Students will read selections from Vergil’s Aeneid and Julius Caesar’s Bellum Gallicum. This course emphasizes literary analysis and essay writing.
Prerequisite: Latin III (Honors) or Latin IV and approval of the World Languages Department
Latin V (Honors)
This course includes readings by authors found within the former AP Latin Literature curriculum, including Catullus, Horace, and Ovid, along with additional works such the elegiac poetry of Propertius and Tibullus. With an emphasis on literary analysis, students are expected to translate poems from Latin into English and supplement their own translation work by reading commentaries and select poems in English translation.
Prerequisite: Advanced Placement Latin and approval of the World Languages Department
Students in Russian I learn the basics of conversation, reading, writing, and listening in a fun and energetic setting. While building vocabulary relating to homes, families, cities, and schools, students learn most of the Russian case system, all the forms of the Russian verbs, and a number of idioms and set phrases that are useful for real-world application. This course uses the American Council of Teachers of Russian (ACTR) book series Live from Russia! which includes an audio component for homework and also a soap-opera-style movie about Kevin, an American living in Moscow. Ten percent of this course consists of Russian culture, politics, literature, and history, which are discussed in English.
Students in Russian II deepen their knowledge of many themes from Russian I: they aim to have control over Russian nouns and verbs and to learn more complicated sentence structures. While continuing to build vocabulary around the themes of school life and personal interests, students work to become conversationally proficient for their encounter with the Russian exchange students. The course continues with the ACTR book Live from Russia!, working with Volumes I and II from the series, and continues to follow the adventures and misadventures of Kevin and his Russian friends. As with Russian I, ten percent of this course consists of Russian culture, politics, literature, and history, which are discussed in English.
Students in Russian III continue to build upon the four major language skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Students in this course strive to move from the sentence level to the paragraph level in Russian and transition from expressing a single idea to presenting a series of ideas in a sophisticated context. While striving for mastery over the Russian case system, students also work to gain control over a number of irregular—but frequently used—Russian verbs. This course continues with the ACTR book Live from Russia!, Volume II, as Kevin continues to develop his knowledge of the Russian language and culture. Ten percent of this course consists of Russian culture, politics, literature, and history, which are discussed mostly in English.
Students in Russian IV strive to complete their knowledge of beginning to intermediate level Russian grammar, while also fortifying their conversational skills. This course aims to deepen the knowledge of practical Russian and ensure that students feel comfortable in a variety of real-world situations. Students produce longer, more focused monologues and also undertake more complex written compositions. The course continues with the ACTR series, moving on to the Welcome Back! text, where Kevin and his friends move into a more adult stage of their lives. Ten percent of this course consists of Russian culture, politics, literature, and history, which are discussed mostly in Russian.
Russian IV (Honors)
This course is the more advanced version of Russian IV, and students are accepted upon approval of the World Languages Department. In addition to the Russian IV components, students spend an additional 30 – 40 percent of time outside of class developing their writing and listening skills. Students in this course are expected to participate in the ACTR-sponsored Russian Olympiada. Students are strongly encouraged to take the National Examinations in World Languages (NEWL) Russian exam and also to continue Russian through Senior Spring Project.
Prerequisite: Russian III and approval of the World Languages Department
Spanish I/Spanish IP
In this first-year course, students are introduced to basic structures and high-frequency vocabulary, which enable them to perform a variety of communicative functions such as asking questions and providing information, expressing likes, wishes, and needs, describing and discussing daily life, and talking about past, present, and future actions. Communicative ability is developed through structured contextual practice leading to more personalized student generated situations and presentations. A variety of strategies are presented to help students develop successful techniques for speaking, reading, writing, and listening in Spanish. This first-year course also begins to expose students to the cultural riches of the Spanish-speaking world. By the end of the year, this course is taught mostly in Spanish. This course is designed for students who have little to no background or experience studying Spanish.
Spanish IP is a course that is open to students who have previously taken Spanish in the middle or lower school but who are not yet ready for the Spanish II course. Enrollment in this course is based on the results of the placement test and the decision of the World Languages Department. This course moves more quickly through the basic introductory vocabulary and grammar, but students spend more time learning and reviewing the present and preterit verb tenses and the more challenging grammar concepts that are necessary to master prior to Spanish II. By the end of the year, this course is taught mostly in Spanish.
In this second year course students review and practice grammar structures introduced in Spanish I. They continue to learn many new grammar structures, including the preterite and imperfect tenses, the future and conditional tenses, and all of the commands. They are also exposed to a variety of new vocabulary in order to advance their communicative skills. Emphasis is placed on applying the newly learned material to speaking and writing. Students engage in listening comprehension activities and are also exposed to cultural aspects of the Spanish-speaking world. Students are expected to give oral presentations and write compositions. This course is conducted in Spanish.
Spanish II (Honors)
In this second-year course, students review and practice grammar structures introduced in Spanish I. They continue to learn many new grammar structures, including the preterite and imperfect tenses, the future and conditional tenses, and the subjunctive mood. They are also exposed to a variety of new vocabulary in order to advance their communicative skills. Emphasis is placed on applying the newly learned material to speaking and writing. Students engage in listening comprehension activities and are also exposed to cultural aspects of the Spanish-speaking world. Students are expected to give oral presentations and write compositions, and will be held to high standards in all areas of their study of the language. Students read short stories and write an original children’s storybook. This course is conducted in Spanish.
Prerequisite: Spanish I/IP and approval of the World Languages Department
This course is an intermediate Spanish course designed to improve students’ speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills and to explore the culture of the Spanish-speaking world. This course integrates language and culture through a communicative approach. Students review and learn new forms of grammar with an emphasis on the subjunctive mood. New, more advanced vocabulary is introduced and applied in a variety of contexts. This course is conducted in Spanish.
Spanish III (Honors)
Students in this course continue to develop and refine the skills necessary for acquiring proficiency in Spanish. The course provides students with further practice in reading, writing, listening and speaking, with an increased concentration on accuracy and communicative functions. To this end, the course consists of an in-depth grammar review of all major structures, frequent oral and written composition work in which students can put these structures to use in meaningful contexts, guided listening and comprehension activities, readings of short stories and articles by well-known Hispanic authors, and the viewing of at least one Spanish-language film. Oral work consists of both structured conversational exercises as well as more open-ended, student-generated situations. Students are encouraged to focus on communicating as well as developing accuracy of expression at this level. This course is conducted exclusively in Spanish.
Prerequisite: Spanish II (Honors) and approval of the World Languages Department
Spanish IV: Culture and Conversation
This fourth-year course aims to deepen students’ knowledge and understanding of the Spanish-speaking world and refine their ability to communicate in real-world situations. Students review major grammar topics and high-frequency vocabulary essential for functional communication in everyday settings such as travel, school, and family life. Oral work focuses on communicative functions such as description, narration, gathering of information, persuading, and circumlocution. A wide variety of cultural topics are explored through a combination of project-based assignments, readings, videos, film, and songs. This course is conducted in Spanish and students are expected to make every effort to use Spanish exclusively.
Advanced Placement Spanish Language and Culture
This is an Advanced Placement (AP) course in Spanish that emphasizes the use of Spanish for active communication and allows students to reach advanced levels in their oral, aural, reading, and written skills. The course introduces students to the literary analysis of Spanish and Latin American literature, culture, and current events around the world. In addition, the course integrates the WE Learning Framework into the AP experience, enabling students to apply academic learning to service initiatives while strengthening their understanding of AP course content and skills. Students carry out a project that has positive impact on local and global issues. This course prepares students for the AP Spanish Language and Culture exam in May. Teacher and students use Spanish exclusively in class. WE Service Learning is recognized on the transcript for those students who successfully complete the service-learning component of the course.
Prerequisite: Spanish III (Honors) or Spanish IV and approval of the World Languages Department
Spanish V: Contemporary Spanish and Latin American Cinema
In this advanced language and culture course, students examine recent major works of film in their social, political, and historical contexts. Films from throughout the Spanish-speaking world are viewed and analyzed both in class and as homework. Students develop their speaking skills as the themes, characters, and cultural lessons from the movies serve as springboards for intensive conversation. In addition to classroom discussions, students give oral presentations, do frequent written assignments, and use online sources to listen to songs and read current articles in Spanish. Teacher and students use Spanish exclusively in class. Students from the Advancement Placement Spanish Language and Culture course may be accepted with approval of the World Languages Department.
Spanish V (Honors): Literature, Film, Art, and Multimedia
This course combines the study of Spanish language and culture by interweaving literature, film, and art from Spain and Latin America. Students continue to refine all their skills in Spanish, broaden their vocabulary, and enhance their fluency. At the end of the year, students write an original play and perform it in front of their peers. Teacher and students use Spanish exclusively in class.
Prerequisite: Advanced Placement Spanish Language and Culture or fluency in Spanish and approval of the World Languages Department
The following language courses are offered to students in Grades 11 and 12 through Global Online Academy:
- Japanese I: Language Through Culture (Yearlong)
- Japanese II: Language Through Culture (Yearlong)
- Japanese III: Language Through Culture (Yearlong)
For more information on this course, please refer to the Global Online Academy section of this Program Planning Guide.