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. Modern languages are taught in the target language to encourage communicative competence; our classrooms are supportive environments that inspire students to take academic risks and meet challenges. Courses stimulate interest in the cultural diversity implicit in studying a new language. Eighth-graders continue with level II of the language, following the same texts and curriculum as students in Upper School.
  • 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 become familiar with cultural practices and celebrations that are common in the Spanish-speaking world. Students will learn greetings, telling time, 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. 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.
     
    Open to 6th and 7th graders with no prior experience learning 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 further 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 will increasingly use their developing language skills to communicate, both in speaking and in writing, and to understand and interpret what they hear and read. Projects and assessments will focus on integrating skills and topics in the present as well as the past tenses.
    Prerequisite: G- in Spanish IA or adequate performance on a placement exam. Open to students in grades 6 through 8.
  • MS Spanish II

    Students in this course learn new language functions, more complex grammatical concepts and vocabulary. Language functions include talking about daily routines and hobbies, expressing opinions, giving commands, making comparisons, telling stories, reacting to new information, health and wellness, technology, and discussing communities and their celebrations. Students will use Spanish as they work interactively with each other and the teacher. By the end of the course, students will be able to read and understand the main ideas and specific information in short articles, write short paragraphs on selected topics, understand short conversations, and respond orally to specific questions on a variety of topics. Students will also be familiar with traditions, major festivals and holidays, and people and places of historical importance in the Spanish-speaking world.

    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

    The aim of this course is to begin 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 are encouraged to take risks to express themselves through group activities while striving for accuracy in communication.

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

    The objective of this course is 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. Participation in real-life situations provides students with opportunities to express themselves and improve their communicative skills. 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 increasingly be asked to narrate in the past and present. Students are encouraged to take risks to express themselves through group activities, individual projects and class projects while striving for accuracy in communication.

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

    Students will learn more complex French grammar, vocabulary, sentence structure and pronunciation, while continuing their journey towards proficiency in the language. 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 are encouraged to take risks to express themselves through increasingly complex communication activities, class projects and cultural presentations while striving for accuracy in communication and variety in language structures.

    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.

    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 on which students can expand their communicative abilities. 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.

    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 students 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 activities, shopping and transportation.

    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 Ann Befroy
    Ann Befroy
    Spanish Instructor
    New York University - Ph.D.
    Dartmouth College - B.A.
  • Photo of Marite Ibañez
    Marite 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