Middle School Courses

Academic Departments

Modern Languages

Sixth-grade students select one of four languages – French, Spanish, Chinese, or Latin – earning a half credit, with another half credit in 7th grade. The modern languages are taught in the target language to ensure the acquisition of correct pronunciation, intonation, and idiomatic usage. Courses stimulate interest in the cultural diversity implicit in studying a language other than English. Eighth-graders continue with level II of the language, following the same texts and curriculum as students in Upper School. The Modern Language Department’s “readiness” policy requires that students achieve a minimum grade of G- (or approval of the department) in order to progress from one level to the next.
  • MS Spanish IA

    This course is designed to prepare students to communicate and understand basic Spanish in common everyday situations. With this goal in mind, students will practice the basic communication skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. In addition to learning the language, students will also become familiar with cultural practices and celebrations that are common in the Spanish-speaking world. Students will learn greetings, telling time, talking about the weather, using numbers, the days of the week and months, talking about likes and dislikes, describing people and things, school subjects, foods, activities and hobbies, and places to go. Students also will learn the present tense conjugation of regular verbs and some irregular verbs. 

    Assessments will evaluate the student’s ability to demonstrate functional use of the skills covered in class, as well as the student’s daily participation and completion of assignments. By fulfilling the requirements in this course, students will be fully prepared for Spanish IB. This course is the equivalent of the first half of Spanish I.

    Open to 6th and 7th graders with no prior experience with Spanish.
  • MS Spanish IB

    This course continues to introduce students to basic Spanish speech patterns, grammar, and vocabulary. Students engage in a variety of activities, projects, and assessments that are designed to develop their reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. Students will learn to order food in a restaurant, shop for clothes, prepare for celebrations, discuss health and daily routines, express emotions and feelings, give advice to friends, and prepare for travel. Students also will study direct object pronouns, reflexive verbs, informal commands, comparisons, and demonstrative adjectives, as well as the present progressive and the preterite tenses. In Spanish IB, students rely on a textbook for reference, but their classroom experience is supplemented by authentic resources as well as content developed by teachers and students. This course is the equivalent of the second half of Spanish I.

    Prerequisite: G- in Spanish IA or adequate performance on a placement exam. Open to students in grades 6 through 8.
  • MS Spanish II

    The objective of this course is to review the material studied in Spanish IA and IB and to learn new language functions, while introducing more complex grammatical concepts and vocabulary. The students learn a variety of language functions, such as talking about daily routines and hobbies, asking for and giving advice, expressing opinions and giving commands, making comparisons and plans, talking about staying healthy, ordering food in a restaurant, telling stories, talking about events in the past, discussing clothes, bargaining in a market, talking about the news and reacting to it, and talking about environmental issues and solutions. In addition, students learn adverbs, the preterite tense including irregular verbs, informal commands and irregular informal commands, the imperfect tense including irregular verbs, superlatives, and formal commands. Students also analyze the theoretical differences between a variety of verbs and are introduced to the basic differences in the uses of the preterite and imperfect tenses. 

    Prerequisite: G- in Spanish IB, departmental approval, or adequate performance on a placement exam. Open to students in grades 6 through 8.
    1 credit
     
  • MS French IA

    French IA is offered only in the Middle School and is the equivalent of the first half of Level I. The objectives of this course are to achieve basic proficiency in French in all four language skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing), and to be aware of and sensitive to existing cultural differences. Students will learn basic French grammar, vocabulary, sentence structure, and pronunciation. The course is designed to simulate real-life communicative situations, in which students learn to participate and express themselves. Students will learn vocabulary and language functions pertaining to making introductions; making and responding to invitations; ordering and talking about food; and discussing family, friends, home life, and weekend plans. Students will learn pronouns, question words, articles, noun and adjective agreement, present tense conjugation of regular and some irregular verbs, and an introduction to the passé composé of regular verbs. Students are encouraged to take risks to express themselves through group activities while striving for accuracy in communication. This course is the equivalent of the first half of French I.

    Open to 6th and 7th graders with no prior experience with French.
  • MS French IB

    French 1B is offered only in the Middle School and is the equivalent of the second half of Level I. The objectives of this course are to achieve basic proficiency in French in all four language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing), and to be aware of and sensitive to existing cultural differences. Students will continue to learn basic French grammar, vocabulary, sentence structure, and pronunciation. The course is designed to simulate real-life communicative situations, in which students learn to participate and express themselves. Students will learn vocabulary and language functions pertaining to discussing wants and needs; making plans; asking and giving directions; making purchases; and discussing physical health, clothing, summer and winter sports, vacation plans, their house and city, and food and meals. Students will learn more irregular present tense verb conjugations, immediate future tense, immediate past tense, stem-changing verbs, passé composé, comparisons, commands, stress pronouns, and direct and indirect object pronouns. Students are encouraged to take risks to express themselves through group activities and class projects while striving for accuracy in communication. This course is the equivalent of the second half of French I.

    Prerequisite: G- in French IA or adequate performance on a placement exam. Open to students in grades 6 through 8.
  • MS French II

    The objectives of this course are to achieve greater proficiency in French in all four language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing), and to be aware of and sensitive to existing cultural differences. Students will review the material covered in French IA and French IB and will learn more complex French grammar, vocabulary, sentence structure, and pronunciation. The course is designed to simulate real-life communicative situations, in which the students learn to participate and express themselves. Students will learn vocabulary and language functions pertaining to mealtime, vacations, travel, leisure activities, daily routine, health, shopping, and current events. Students will learn additional irregular verbs, pronominal verbs, the imperfect verb tense, the future verb tense, the conditional verb tense, present participles, direct and indirect object pronouns, relative pronouns, “if” clauses, and an introduction to the present subjunctive. Students are encouraged to take risks to express themselves through communication activities, class projects, and cultural presentations while striving for accuracy in communication. 

    Prerequisite: G- in French IB, departmental approval, or adequate performance on a placement exam. Open to students in grades 6 through 8.
    1 credit
  • MS Chinese IA

    The course objective is to learn basic speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills in standard Mandarin Chinese.  Students will learn the Pinyin Romanization sound system with four tones. Students will gain knowledge of the basic concepts of the Chinese writing system: Chinese radicals and characters and simple grammar structure. They also learn to follow simple commands related to classroom tasks; carry on simple conversations about such topics as names, nationalities, and occupations; and give brief oral presentations about their families. In addition, students will learn tongue twisters, raps, and songs to improve their pronunciation and increase their fluency. They also explore Chinese ways of living and Chinese customs related to the language requirements of the course. This course is the equivalent of the first half of Chinese I.

    Open to 6th and 7th graders with no prior experience with Chinese.
  • MS Chinese IB

    Students continue to develop their oral skills and gain more knowledge of the basic concepts of the Chinese writing system. They will comprehend directions and commands related to classroom tasks, readings of simple sentences, and short paragraphs containing the characters required in the textbooks. There is a greater variety of topics for students to expand their abilities for communication. Students also learn to ask questions and carry on simple conversations about such topics as family, school, the calendar and hobbies; share likes and dislikes regarding animals, food, fruit, and leisure activities; and use verbal and nonverbal communication for culturally appropriate social behaviors in everyday Chinese life. This course is the equivalent of the second half of Chinese I.

    Prerequisite: G- in Chinese IA or adequate performance on a placement exam. Open to students in grades 6 through 8. 
  • MS Chinese II

    Chinese level II is a basic language course in which students will review and continue with the materials introduced in Chinese IA and IB with the expectation that students will master more in terms of degree and quantity. They will continue to build vocabulary, learn grammar, and immerse in richer Chinese cultural and historical traditions.  A variety of language tasks will be provided for students to increase their ability to acquire information through listening, express themselves with more confidence, and read and write characters with greater ease. Beyond the textbook, students will recite raps, sing songs, read and write stories, watch short films, and play games. At the successful completion of this course, they will be able to make appointments with teachers and friends, as well as ask and answer questions involving areas of school life, leisure time activities, shopping, and transportation. Students also will create a Chinese picture book by the end of the year. 

    Prerequisite: G- in Chinese IB, departmental approval, or adequate performance on a placement exam. Open to students in grades 6 through 8.
    1 credit
     

Middle School Faculty

  • Photo of Preston Achilike
    Preston Achilike
    Spanish Instructor, Middle School Coordinator of Equity & Inclusion
    University of Texas at Austin - Ph.D. Candidate
    Harvard University - M.A.
    Boston College - M.Ed.
    Boston College - M.Ed.
    University of Texas at Austin - B.A.
  • Photo of Maria Ibañez
    Maria Ibañez
    Spanish Instructor
    Arizona State University - MA
    Universidad Federico Villarreal del Peru - BS
  • Photo of Valerie Kelly
    Valerie Kelly
    French Instructor
    University California Santa Cruz - B.A.
    San Jose State University - M.A.
  • Photo of Juan Rodriguez
    Juan Rodriguez
    History Instructor
    Middlebury College - MA (In Progress)
    University of Texas - BA
  • Photo of Ying Xu
    Ying Xu
    Mandarin Chinese Instructor
    Harbin Normal University - B.A.
Address: 6500 St. Stephen's Dr., Austin, TX 78746
Phone: (512) 327-1213