Academics
Academic Departments

World Languages Department

While words and phrases can be learned in any number of electronic ways, the Department of World Languages offers real-world experience within the classroom, breaking down its fourth wall. Through an immersion pedagogy, our students are encouraged to use the target language to express themselves in an authentic and candid manner. This way,  not only do our students learn to communicate in the target language, but they also become culturally literate in the customs and traditions of the people and places studied.

In addition to the rigors of daily language lessons, students in French learn how to haggle the price of a street-side portrait in Montmartre. In Spanish, they might learn about Pachamanca, a Peruvian dish that is buried in burlap sack while cooking over hot stones. When the class takes a trip to the Central Andes over Spring Break, they will anticipate knowingly a meal from the earth, a tradition that is delicious, savory and 600 years old. Students of Chinese enjoy eating moon cakes, playing Chinese chess and celebrating Asian New Year alongside students from China and Korea. Erasmus once taught that in Latin you can say “thank you” in 150 different ways. We teach all our languages with the same spirit of generosity.
  • Chinese I

    Prerequisites: None. Open to students in grades nine through twelve.
     
    In Chinese I students build a strong foundation in modern Mandarin Chinese. Beginning with a focus on Chinese phonetics and character systems, students move into a thematic study of various topics to build a practical vocabulary around themes such as introductions, friends and family, numbers, time, hobbies, buying and selling, and many other topics. While undergoing an integrated study of the language, students also experiment with studying Chinese characters in a systematic way designed to help them remember the meaning and writing of characters long term. Outside of class students maintain a weekly quota of Chinese character writing through iPad software and meet regularly with native-speaking Chinese language partners for speaking practice. Classroom instruction is in Chinese with English used in limited form for guidance and learning strategies.
     
     
  • Chinese II

    Prerequisites: Chinese I or approval from Chinese teacher based on assessment
     
    In Chinese II students continue from the foundation built during the previous year. In addition to more thematic study on topics including transportation, sports, school life, special events and relationships, students strengthen their reading skills by working through short books and articles designed for upper beginner levels. Chinese II students continue a weekly quota of Chinese character practice through iPad software and meet regularly with Chinese language partners for speaking practice.
     
     
  • Chinese III

    Prerequisites: Chinese II or approval from Chinese teacher based on assessment
     
    In Chinese III students move into more demanding intermediate-level skills. With a higher focus on independent vocabulary learning, class time is nearly all in Chinese and devoted to developing skills based on what students are already working on outside of class. At this point students have a base of more than 300 characters, which greatly enhances their ability to access and understand a growing variety of authentic sources outside the textbook. Topics include dining out, weather, parties, healthcare and giving directions.
     
     
  • Chinese IV

    Prerequisites: Chinese III or approval from Chinese teacher based on assessment
     
    Building on all the skills acquired over the previous three years, this fourth-year Chinese course is an immersion environment in which students can drive their own learning through normal text work as well as advanced projects including short novels, Chinese presentations and colloquial language. Topics covered in the primary text include relationships, housing, sports, extended travel and farewells.
     
     
  • French I

    Prerequisites: None. Open to students in grades nine through twelve.
     
    French I emphasizes an integrated approach and a balanced development of the four language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Instruction at the first level stresses the fundamentals of French through contextual presentation of theme-based vocabulary, grammar and verb conjugations. The textbook we use exposes students to life in contemporary France and Francophone countries. Various Internet sites, music, magazines, movies, cookbooks, comic strips and children’s stories are used to facilitate the development of elementary skills by which students can listen and read in the target language. French I is designed to highlight proficiency in communication by giving students meaningful, everyday expressions they can use immediately in real life situations.
     
     
  • French II

    Prerequisites: French I or approval by the Department Chair
     
    The second level of French builds upon the fundamental skills learned in French I. Students study advanced grammar and idiomatic structures as well as read and write passages of increased length and difficulty. The textbook and supplementary web-based materials used in this class enhance students’ cultural knowledge of real-life situations in contemporary France and Francophone countries. French II is designed to expand proficiency in communication, give students meaningful expressions they can use immediately in everyday situations and prepare them to communicate in both the spoken and written form at an intermediate level.
     
     
  • French III

    Prerequisites: French II or approval by the Department Chair
     
    The third level of instruction is designed to teach further advanced aspects of grammar as well as to polish skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking. Through the use of a college-level textbook and corresponding web-based materials, students explore the French language through the lens of a native speaker as they are exposed to a wide variety of authentic resources and are challenged to interpret and synthesize ideas in multiple ways. Overall, the lessons learned in French III add sophistication and real-life context to students’ knowledge of modern French culture, and teach them to write well-organized and substantive essays, to communicate effectively in a conversation and to become proficient readers of French.
     
     
  • French IV

    Prerequisites: French III or approval by the Department Chair
     
    French IV is offered to students who have demonstrated continued excellence and interest in the study of French. French is used almost exclusively as a means of communication so to help students transition into a college-level environment with greater ease and to prepare them for progression into the AP French Language and Culture course the following year. Students complete a thorough review of complex grammatical structures, idiomatic expressions and vocabulary as well as explore a variety of historical, political, literary and cultural movements in Francophone countries around the world. A college-level text is used, supplemented by a variety of web-based materials and authentic resources to support and guide progress. Formal and informal writing, literary analysis, organized debates, projects and conversational exchange (both prepared and spontaneous) are many of the activities used to engage students and help them to develop a greater proficiency in listening, speaking, reading and writing.
     
     
  • AP French Language and Culture

    Prerequisites: (summer work required)
    Completion of French IV with an average grade of 90 or better, the support of the department and the recommendation of the current teacher are required.
     
    Centered around six overarching themes established by the College Board, the AP French Language and Culture course is designed to challenge the advanced French student to reach beyond traditional grammar and vocabulary acquisition to apply presentational, interpretive and interpersonal skills to a real-world context. Through the exclusive use of authentic resources, students broaden their understanding of the French-speaking world through the lens of native-born speakers. Through exposure to the many products, practices and perspectives that make each culture unique, students are challenged to think critically as they work to compare and contrast their own native cultures to those corresponding to Francophone countries worldwide.
     
    Integration of Authentic Materials and Course Themes
    The course is designed in such a way to use various literary and cinematic works to allow students to develop the three types of communication while exploring the six cultural themes. The academic year is divided into units based upon major works of literature or collections of more modern excerpts. Within each unit, students work to improve their competency through formal and informal reading, writing and listening activities.
     
     
  • Spanish I

    Prerequisites: None. Open to students in grades 9 through 12.
     
    Spanish I provides students a solid foundation in the basic structures of Spanish grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary. This knowledge is actively put into practice as students develop basic skills in written and oral communication. The course emphasizes an integrated approach and a balanced development of the four language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students also become familiar with the geography, customs and the diversity of the Spanish-speaking world. A combination of textbook and web-based materials are used to facilitate students’ progress through the curriculum.
     
     
  • Spanish II

    Prerequisites: Spanish I or approval by the Department Chair
     
    Spanish II is an intermediate course in which students continue to strengthen their vocabulary, grammar and conversation skills. Students work through regular and irregular verbs in all tenses of the indicative mood, including all forms of the preterit and imperfect, as well as learn to incorporate theme-based vocabulary into both the written and oral context. Creating dialogues based on specific situations and role-playing are an important aspect of oral assessment. Students also expand their understanding of the history and culture of all Spanish-speaking countries. Spanish II is highly interactive and much of the course is conducted in Spanish. A combination of textbook and web-based materials are used to facilitate students’ progress through the curriculum.
     
     
  • Spanish III

    Prerequisites: Spanish II or approval by the Department Chair
     
    Spanish III is an intermediate-level language course.  The goal of this course is to bridge the gap between elementary and advanced levels in the further development of listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. Students will be encouraged to attach meaning directly to Spanish without depending on English for understanding. For this reason, Spanish will be the language used for communication at all times. Students should continue to become better learners of language by continuing to apply useful learning strategies to their work. Students conjugate regular and irregular verbs in all tenses of the indicative and subjunctive moods and all forms of the imperative mood. Authentic texts, both auditory and visual, expose students to a wider variety of cultural, political and social aspects within the Spanish-speaking world. To facilitate their learning in a variety of facets, students work from a college-level textbook and accompanying web-based materials.
     
     
  • Spanish III Honors

    Prerequisites: Spanish II, recommendation from the student’s previous Spanish teacher or approval by the Department Chair. Designed for those students who have shown superior aptitude and interest in the study of Spanish.
     
    The goal of this course is to bridge the gap between elementary and advanced levels in the further development of listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. Students will be encouraged to attach meaning directly to Spanish without depending on English for understanding. For this reason, Spanish will be the language used for communication at all times. Students should continue to become better learners of language by continuing to apply useful learning strategies to their work. They read, write and converse in a variety of situations through the use of extensive, theme-based vocabulary and advanced grammar concepts, and learn to synthesize ideas in a variety of forms. In addition, students will be exposed to cultural, political and social information from throughout the Spanish-speaking world and will be expected to acquire an appreciation of the diversity and richness of Hispanic culture by means of directed reading assignments and creative projects. Broadening students’ knowledge and exposing them to a more in-depth view into Spanish-speaking countries and their cultures is accomplished with a college-level textbook and corresponding web-based materials.
     
     
  • Spanish IV

    Prerequisites: Spanish III or approval from the Department Chair based on testing. Offered to students who have demonstrated continued excellence and interest in the study of Spanish.
     
    In this course, Spanish is used almost exclusively as a means of communication to help students transition into a college-level environment with greater ease and to prepare them for progression into the AP Spanish Language and Culture course the following year. Students complete a thorough review of complex grammatical structures, idiomatic expressions and vocabulary as well as explore a variety of historical, political, literary and cultural movements in the Spanish-speaking world. A college-level text is used, supplemented by a variety of web-based materials and authentic resources so to support and guide progress. Formal and informal writing, literary analysis, organized debates, projects and conversational exchange (both prepared and spontaneous) are many of the activities used to engage students and help them to develop a greater proficiency in listening, speaking, reading and writing.
     
     
  • Spanish IV Honors

    Prerequisites: Spanish III or approval from the Department Chair based on testing. Offered to students who have demonstrated continued excellence and interest in the study of Spanish.
     
    In this course, Spanish is used almost exclusively as a means of communication to help students transition into a college-level environment with greater ease and to prepare them for progression into the AP Spanish Language and Culture course the following year. Students complete a thorough review of complex grammatical structures, idiomatic expressions and vocabulary as well as explore a variety of historical, political, literary and cultural movements in the Spanish-speaking world. A college-level text is used, supplemented by a variety of web-based materials and authentic resources so to support and guide progress. Formal and informal writing, literary analysis, organized debates, projects and conversational exchange (both prepared and spontaneous) are many of the activities used to engage students and help them to develop a greater proficiency in listening, speaking, reading and writing.
     
     
  • AP Spanish Language and Culture

    Prerequisites: (summer work required)
    Completion of the Honors Spanish IV with an average grade of 90 or better, the support of the department and the recommendation of the current teacher are required.
     
    Centered around six overarching themes established by the College Board, The AP Spanish Language and Culture course is designed to challenge the advanced Spanish student to reach beyond traditional grammar and vocabulary acquisition to apply presentational, interpretive and interpersonal skills to a real-world context. Through the exclusive use of authentic resources, students broaden their understanding of the Spanish-speaking world through the lens of native-born speakers. Through exposure to the many products, practices and perspectives that make each culture unique, students are challenged to think critically as they work to compare and contrast their own native cultures to those corresponding to Spanish-speaking countries worldwide.
     
     
  • Spanish VI: Advanced Seminar

    Prerequisites: Completion of the AP Spanish Language and Culture course and approval by the Department Chair
     
    A seminar-style course, this class challenges students to continue to develop second language acquisition through natural progression while increasing cultural awareness and appreciation for the rich history and culture of Latin America. The students explore a variety of authentic resources (film, poetry, prose, music and art) as they work to expand their knowledge and awareness of contemporary Latin American culture. The course is centered around five main themes that challenge the students to think globally and critically:
     
    • Women’s rights and the female “voice” in Latin American society
    • Social issues 
    • Immigration
    • Drug trafficking
    • Revolutions, dictatorships and political regimes
     
    Through class debates and discussions students continue to expand and develop their interpersonal communication skills. The hope is for students to become more proficient in each of the four key components of second language acquisition (reading, writing, speaking and listening) while at the same time developing a more advanced ability to synthesize what they have learned for a broader and more complex understanding of the world in which they live. Students analyze Latin American literary excerpts and contemporary cinema and use their discoveries as the basis for active class discussion, presentation and composition.
     
     

Department Staff

  • Amanda Rhem

    R. Maxwell Meador Chair of World Languages/ Spanish Teacher/ Assistant Coach, Boys Varsity Tennis
    434-385-3826
    Lander University - B.A.
    Middlebury College - M.A.
  • Zachary Abeles

    Spanish teacher/Coach, JV Soccer,Girls Basketball & Track & Field
    434-385-3832
    Sewanee: The University of the South - B.A.
    Sewanee: The University of the South - B.S.
    James Madison University - B.A.
  • Jennifer Anderson

    Dean of Faculty/Spanish Teacher/Head Coach, Cross Country
    434-385-3639
    James Madison Unversity - B.A.
    University of Virginia - M.Ed
    Read Bio
  • Susan Foster

    French Teacher
    434-385-3830
    University of Richmond - B.A.
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - B.S.N.
  • Matthew Johnson

    Chinese Teacher /Coach, Volleyball & PingPong/ Asst International Student Coordinator
    434-385-3621
    Gordon College - B.A.
    Xiamen University - Graduate Certificate
  • William Rhem

    Coordinator of Global Initiatives/English and Spanish Teacher/ Coach, Boys Soccer, Boys Basketball
    434-385-3828
    Wofford College - B.A.
    Middlebury College - M.A.
    Columbia University - M.Ed.
  • Christian Whittemore

    Spanish Teacher/Coach, JV Volleyball, Yoga
    434-385-3857
    Sewanee: The University of the South - B.A.
  • Erin Woloschek

    French Teacher/ Coach, Drama
    434-385-3702
    Eastern Kentucky University - B.A.
    University of Kentucky - M.A.
A College Preparatory, Independent Boarding and Day School for Students in Grades 9-12
400 VES Road, Lynchburg, VA 24503 • 434.385.3600