World Languages In Grade VIII

(Five periods/250 minutes per cycle)

After choosing a language to study in Grade VII, students continue their work in French, Mandarin, or Spanish in Grade VIII.

French II at Shady Hill is a study of various cultures of the francophone world through their shared linguistic heritage. The four basic language skill areas of listening, speaking, reading and writing continue to be developed at the same time that students explore the interconnection between culture and language.

Second year students build upon the foundation of skills that they constructed during the previous year, layering on the conversational vocabulary associated with new communicative contexts and mastering more advanced grammatical and verbal constructions. Materials are pulled from a wide variety of sources such as taped interviews, CDs of songs, excerpts of newspaper articles, magazines, web sites, and children’s books and videos.

As in the previous year, each six-week unit revolves around a developmental question or statement, which is accompanied by a number of linguistic and grammatical objectives. As real communicative competency is the ultimate goal, lessons are presented almost exclusively in French, and students engage in a wide variety of activities, which are all designed to encourage the growth of all four of the language skill areas.

Regular exchange throughout the academic year of pen pal letters with middle school students at the Collège Pasteur in St. Rémy, France allows Shady Hill students to hone their newly acquired reading and writing skills in French, and the cultural contact is a pleasure for all students on both sides of the Atlantic.

Mandarin II at Shady Hill is a study of some of the various cultures of the Chinese-speaking world through their shared linguistic heritage. The four basic language skill areas of listening, speaking, reading and writing continue to be developed concurrently while students explore the interconnection between culture and language.

Second year students build upon the foundation of skills that they constructed during the previous year, layering on the conversational vocabulary associated with new communicative contexts and mastering more advanced grammatical and verbal constructions. There is a continued emphasis on correct tones and pronunciation when speaking and on accurate stroke order when writing characters. Resources include the Ni Hao textbook, workbook, and online supplemental material, Chinese CDs and films, children’s books, magazine articles, realia, and teacher-generated materials.

As real communicative competency is the ultimate goal, the majority of the lessons are presented in Mandarin. Students learn to speak idiomatically, acquiring four-character “proverbs” as well as colloquial expressions. Students engage in a wide variety of activities, which are all designed to encourage the growth of all four-language skill areas. Through a pen pal exchange with students in China, students have the opportunity to use their language skills for meaningful communication.

Spanish II at Shady Hill continues its study of Hispanic cultures through their language. The four language skills — listening, speaking, reading, and writing — are developed concurrently throughout the year, with an emphasis on speaking and listening. Spanish is the primary language of the classroom.

During the second year, the focus will be on Chapters 5-9 of the Descubre textbook. With this text, the language is taught in context with numerous supplementary materials that support the development of each skill. The goal in the second year is to focus more on advanced grammatical topics and to expand the range of vocabulary allowing students to express themselves and discuss everyday activities. Through the cultural readings and video components of the text, students are able to explore the differences between American and Hispanic cultures in everyday situations. The students are expected to speak and present in the target language on a weekly basis. There will be a special emphasis on project sharing.

At home, students will continue to develop their skills with the Descubre online workbook. With the features of a traditional workbook, students will practice reading and writing skills; additionally, students will practice speaking and listening skills, many of which provide instant feedback. This real-time feature enables students to see which areas need attention and to work at their own pace.
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