World Languages and Cultures

The emphasis of the World Languages and Cultures Department concentrates on language proficiency based on language choice, focused practice, and mastery of written, reading, and listening comprehension combined with speaking skills. Also emphasized are the cultures which the languages represent, so that students learn how people who speak another language think and act. Latin, as our Classical Language, emphasizes reading and cultural comprehension in lieu of written and oral production. The Department offers Chinese, French, Latin, and Spanish. Preparation for the Advanced Placement examination is offered in French, Latin, and Spanish. To qualify for graduation, students must successfully complete Level 3 of a language. After completing graduation requirements, students are strongly encouraged to continue language-learning at the advanced levels. The department uses the standards of the American Council on Teaching Foreign Languages as the basis for its curriculum planning and classroom activities.


World Languages and Cultures Faculty


Chinese

Chinese 1

Year - 6 credits

Students in Chinese 1 will master elementary Chinese language skills in a cultural context, enabling them to navigate basic conversational situations in a Chinese-speaking country. In addition to learning Chinese characters, students will also learn Pinyin – a phonetic pronunciation tool for reading characters. By incorporating traditional Chinese art forms, crafts, and games with project-based learning, this class helps students progress towards fluency by using simple Chinese language structures, writing and understanding dialogues, and conversing on familiar topics from everyday situations. Learning to read, write, listen, and speak in the target language is the focus of all classes and activities. Besides teacher-developed handouts and materials, we are using Discovery Chinese volumes 1 & 2.

Chinese 2

Year - 6 credits

Prerequisite: successful completion of Chinese 1. Students will progress in their mastery of Chinese language skills in a cultural context, enabling them to navigate more advanced conversational situations in a Chinese-speaking country. In addition to learning additional Chinese characters, students will continue to use Pinyin – a phonetic pronunciation tool for reading characters. By incorporating traditional Chinese art forms, crafts, and games with project-based learning, this class will help students progress towards fluency by using increasingly complex Chinese language structure, writing and understanding dialogues, and conversing on familiar topics from everyday situations. Learning to read, write, listen, and speak in the target language is the focus of all classes and activities. Besides teacher-developed handouts and materials, we are using Discovery Chinese volumes 3 & 4.

Chinese 3

Year - 6 credits

Prerequisite: successful completion of Chinese 2. Students will progress further in their mastery of Chinese language skills in a cultural context enabling them to navigate still more advanced conversational situations in a Chinese speaking country. In addition to learning additional Chinese characters, students will also continue to use Pinyin – a phonetic pronunciation tool for reading characters. Students start to do in-depth research and group projects about various aspects of Chinese language, culture, and history. By incorporating traditional Chinese art forms, crafts and games with project-based learning, this class will help students progress towards fluency by using increasingly complex Chinese language structures, writing and understanding dialogues, and conversing on familiar topics from everyday situations. Learning to read, write, listen and speaking in the target language is the focus of all classes and activities. Besides teacher developed handouts and materials, we are using Magic Tour of China, volume 1.

Topics in Chinese Literature and History

Year - 6 credits

Prerequisite: successful completion of Chinese 3. Students will continue to progress in their mastery of Chinese language skills in a cultural context enabling them to navigate complex conversational situations in a Chinese-speaking country. Students are required to do in-depth research and group projects on various aspects of Chinese language, culture, and history. By incorporating traditional Chinese art forms, crafts, and games with project-based learning, this class will help students progress towards fluency by using increasingly complex Chinese language structure, writing and understanding dialogues, and conversing on familiar topics from everyday situations. Learning to read, write, listen, and speak in the target language is the focus of all classes and activities. Besides teacher-developed handouts and materials, we are using Magic Tour of China, volume 2.

Chinese 4

Prerequisite: successful completion of Chinese 3. Students will continue to progress in their mastery of Chinese language skills in a cultural context enabling them to navigate complex conversational situations in a Chinese-speaking country. Students are required to do in-depth research and group projects on various aspects of Chinese language and culture. By incorporating traditional Chinese art forms, crafts, and games with project-based learning, this class will help students progress towards fluency by using increasingly complex Chinese language structure, writing and understanding dialogues, and conversing on familiar topics from everyday situations. Learning to read, write, listen, and speak in the target language is the focus of all classes and activities. Besides teacher-developed handouts and materials, we are using Magic Tour of China, volume 2.

Advanced Seminar in Chinese

Year - 6 credits

Prerequisite: successful completion of Chinese 4. Students will progress in their mastery of Chinese language skills in a cultural context, enabling them to navigate complex conversational situations in a Chinese-speaking country. Students are required to do in-depth research and group projects about various aspects of Chinese language, culture, and history. By incorporating traditional Chinese art forms, crafts, and games with project-based learning, this class will help students increase their fluency by using increasingly complex Chinese language structure, writing and understanding dialogues, and conversing on familiar topics from everyday situations. Learning to read, write, listen, and speak in the target language is the focus of all classes and activities. Besides teacher-developed handouts and materials, we are using Magic Tour of China, volume 3 & 4.

Chinese 5

Year - 6 credits

Prerequisite: successful completion of Chinese 4. Students will progress in their mastery of Chinese language skills in a cultural context enabling them to navigate complex conversational situations in a Chinese-speaking country. Students are required to do in-depth research and group projects about various aspects of Chinese language and culture. By incorporating traditional Chinese art forms, crafts, and games with project-based learning, this class will help students increase their fluency by using increasingly complex Chinese language structure, writing and understanding dialogues, and conversing on familiar topics from everyday situations. Learning to read, write, listen, and speak in the target language is the focus of all classes and activities. Besides teacher-developed handouts and materials, we are using Magic Tour of China, volume 3.

French

French 1

Year - 6 credits

Students will be immediately immersed in simple, comprehensible conversations and stories that will allow them to begin to talk about themselves and their daily lives in French. Priority is given to high-frequency vocabulary and structures that will enable students to discuss common interests and events. Emphasis is placed on listening and reading comprehension with the understanding that students will develop accuracy in speaking and writing over time. Over the course of the year, students learn to narrate events, describe people and things, and express their opinions.

French 2

Year - 6 credits

Prerequisite: successful completion of French 1. Students will expand their ability to communicate in French about topics such as school, hobbies, hometown, childhood, food, and travel. The class undertakes a year-long comparison of various facets of daily life in Pittsburgh and Paris. Students explore Quebec, Martinique, and Guadeloupe as travel destinations, practicing real-life tasks such as ordering a meal and shopping. Emphasis is placed on high-frequency vocabulary and structures that increase students’ abilities to describe, narrate, compare and explain in writing and speaking. Exposure to popular music and free reading prepares students to engage with French culture outside of the classroom.

French 3

Year - 6 credits

Prerequisite: successful completion of French 2. Students explore about the culture of daily life in communities throughout the francophone world, delving into varied topics such as housing, dress, education, sports, arts, health, cuisine, and holidays. They read novellas that present stories of cultural exchange and watch contemporary films that bring the topics they are studying to life. The novellas and films, supplemented with fairy tales, fables, and children’s literature, serve as the basis for class discussions, writing assignments, presentations, and projects. Students use the language to draw connections, make comparisons, and express and support their opinions. Emphasis continues to be placed on high-frequency vocabulary as more varied grammatical structures are introduced. Continued exposure to popular music and free reading encourage students to engage with French culture outside of the classroom.

Advanced Topics in Francophone Cultures

Year - 6 credits

Prerequisite: successful completion of French 3. Students explore the diverse perspectives, experiences, and identities in the contemporary francophone world through compelling narratives in film, graphic novels, short stories, songs, and journalistic reporting. Students develop their language proficiency as they deepen their cultural understanding, gaining insight into their own culture and identity as well. Units are developed around cultural topics of interest to the students, and the class follows and discusses current events throughout the year. Student work takes the form of creative and analytical writing and speaking assignments, class discussions and debates, cultural presentations, and research projects. In addition, students choose their own avenues for engaging with French independently outside of the classroom, such as through novels, films, or music.

French 4

Year - 6 credits

Prerequisite: successful completion of French 3. Students will hone their communication skills and deepen their cultural understanding through the study of units centered on significant people, places, events, and cultural products throughout modern francophone history. Students will work with authentic materials such as films, video clips, news articles, radio broadcasts, literature, and songs. They will deepen their cultural understanding while broadening their range of vocabulary and grammatical structures. Student work will take the form of classroom role plays and debates, creative writing assignments, cultural presentations, and research projects. In addition, students will choose their own avenues for engaging with French outside of the classroom, such as novels, films, or music.

Advanced Seminar in Francophone Cultures

Year - 6 credits

Prerequisite: successful completion of French 4 or Advanced Topics in Francophone Cultures. Students study key issues in the contemporary francophone world through journalistic reporting, literature, films, podcasts, and songs. Themes center around societal issues, such as immigration, the environment, the economy, politics, and science and technology. The class also follows and discusses current events throughout the year. Students gain a deeper understanding of a variety of global challenges, as well as the specific ways they play out in various francophone countries. They demonstrate their understanding by engaging in class discussions and debates, writing analytical and persuasive essays, and presenting their research to their classmates. Throughout the course, students will polish their communication skills in preparation for continued study at the college level.

AP French Language and Culture

Year - 6 credits

Prerequisite: successful completion of French 4. Students will explore key issues in the contemporary francophone world through journalistic reporting, literature, film, music, and other art forms. Themes will include language and identity, immigration and multiculturalism, religion and secularism, gender roles, and environmental challenges. Students will gain a deeper understanding of the diversity of francophone cultures and identities, as well as an appreciation for how place and perspective have shaped them. Student work will include class debates, persuasive essays, individual research, cultural comparisons, and multimedia presentations. Throughout the course, students will polish their communication skills in preparation for the AP exam and continued study at the college level.

Latin

Latin 1

Year – 6 credits

This course introduces the student to the basics of the Latin language and to life as it was lived in diverse areas of the Roman Empire. The focus is on reading Latin rather than simply memorizing endings, and so students begin reading extended passages of Latin at the outset. As their skill develops, the passages become longer and more challenging. Their developing skills in reading Latin will include grammar, vocabulary, and syntax. Through their readings they will become acquainted with life in Roman Italy, the agrarian and turbulent province of Britain, and cosmopolitan Alexandria, Egypt.

Latin 2

Year – 6 credits

Prerequisite: successful completion of Latin 1. Students will continue to build on the work they did in Latin 1, to enhance their ability to read more complex passages of Latin. They will learn new vocabulary and syntax necessary for that task. Students will be introduced to the literary style of Classical Latin literature. The passages they read will broaden their knowledge of life and culture in Imperial Rome by learning about the organization of the Roman army, life in the court of the Emperor Domitian, and the siege of Masada and its aftermath.

Latin 3

Year – 6 credits

Prerequisite: successful completion of Latin 2. In this course, students will complete their study of the main features of Latin syntax and inflectional forms. The first six chapters of their book form the end of the “novel” that students began reading at the beginning of Latin 1. Students will subsequently read un-adapted passages from authors such as Pliny, Cicero, Ovid, Horace, Catullus, Sallust, and Vergil.

Latin 4

Year – 6 credits

Prerequisite: successful completion of Latin 3. The texts for this course are selected in consultation with those students of Latin 3 who intend to pursue a fourth year of study in the language. In the past, students have read Terence’s comic play Adelphoe, Cicero’s philosophical “theory of everything” as set forth in The Dream of Scipio, passages from Vergil’s Aeneid, selections from Petronius’ Satyricon, the poems Catullus and Horace, and others. Grammar and inflectional forms are reviewed and exercised regularly.

AP Latin

Year – 6 credits

Prerequisite: successful completion of Latin 4. This course is designed to provide the most advanced students with a rich and rigorous course in Latin poetry and prose, and to prepare them to take the Latin AP exam. As required by the College Board, the prose selections come from Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic Wars, and the poetry is excerpted from The Aeneid of Vergil. In addition to working out precise, literal translations for set passages, students will practice reading at sight and will master the terminology devised by scholars to describe and analyze Latin grammar, syntax, and literary style. As stated by the College Board, the ultimate goal of the course is to help students “fully grasp the ideas, nuances, and emphases, and to appreciate the literary art of the Latin text.”

Spanish

Spanish 1

Year - 6 credits

This course will allow students to acquire the necessary skills to satisfy most survival needs and limited social demands in a Spanish-speaking country. Students develop the ability to understand the information using simple Spanish structures, and to write and understand paragraphs or dialogue on a familiar topic in order to function in everyday situations. Students familiarize themselves with the culture of the language they are learning through the study of geography and topics related to daily life.

Spanish 2

Year - 6 credits

Prerequisite: successful completion of Spanish 1. Students will learn to use more complex structures in the present, past, and future tense (orally and in writing), on familiar topics and situations. The culture of daily life, traditions, and famous landmarks in the Hispanic world are studied. Students also learn about the Spanish-speaking countries of Latin America.

Spanish 3

Year - 6 credits

Prerequisite: successful completion of Spanish 2. Students will learn to support opinions with more spontaneity and accuracy, and to describe and narrate using broader vocabulary and more complex sentence structures on familiar topics, both in written and oral forms. They will be able to create and combine new material with greater ease and understand conversations and texts on cultural topics from authentic sources.

Spanish 4

Year - 6 credits

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Spanish 3. This class is designed to give students a high level of cultural competence of the cultures of Spanish-speaking peoples. Students will read a wide variety of texts, including: a textbook, poetry, essays, short stories, and at least one novella and one full play. Students will gain cultural content knowledge through reading class materials and completing research using contemporary sources such as online documents, movies, music, paintings, sculptures, architecture, magazines, journals and newspapers. In order to continue developing their communication skills, students will compose short and long critical and expository essays, create examples of creative nonfiction writing, write at least one long research paper, and deliver several in-class presentations. Students will finish the class by presenting their research on a topic of contemporary importance, centered in a culture of the Spanish-speaking world. This course will cover grammar only as needed by individual students in the class.

AP Spanish Language and Culture

Year - 6 credits

Prerequisite: successful completion of Spanish 4. Students will polish and master their linguistics skills in preparation for the AP examination. An increased amount of authentic materials in the target language, such as newscasts, movies, newspapers, and magazines, will be used to help students practice listening, reading, and speaking skills. Students are trained to converse freely and write about everyday, abstract, and hypothetical topics.

Apply Now

Make a Gift

Contact Us

City Campus
555 Morewood Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
P: 412-578-7500
F: 412-578-7504

North Campus
4225 Middle Road
Allison Park, PA 15101
P: 412-486-8341
F: 412-578-7504