St. Andrew's-Sewanee Students choose from three languages: Chinese, Latin, and Spanish. The Language Department also offers courses for English Language Learners (ELL). Arrangements may be made with the Academic Dean for other language instruction through private lessons or university courses.
Chinese I students learn pronunciation patterns, tones, and basic grammatical structures. While the focus of the class is primarily on oral proficiency, with students learning phrases and conversational Chinese, students will also learn to read, write, and type basic Chinese characters. At the end of this course, students will have acquired the ability to ask and answer questions and conduct meaningful conversations in Chinese. Units on Chinese history and culture will complement the language portion of the course.
Chinese II is a continuation of Chinese I with emphasis on listening, speaking, reading, and writing complex sentences and Chinese characters. Students will continue developing the four basic language skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing in Mandarin Chinese. More Chinese characters will be introduced in this class. Classes are interactive with students participating in games, dialogues, oral presentation, and imaginative tasks. Students continue to explore Chinese culture through Chinese legends, history stories, movies, cooking, and handicraft making.
Chinese III students continue to develop their aural understanding, speaking, reading, and writing of Mandarin Chinese. Grammatical constructions introduced in Chinese I and II will be practiced in this course with increasing sophistication in style and usage. Students are required to comprehend and produce paragraph-level Chinese. Students will participate in rigorous practice of spoken and written Chinese in complex communicative activities. Students will also do intensive reading of expository writings on a variety of cultural topics and current issues in China and in the world.
Chinese IV is further training in listening comprehension and oral expression. Students continue working on the writing system, emphasizing the acquisition of an acceptable expository writing skill. Throughout the course, students develop necessary knowledge of Chinese, including pronunciation, vocabulary, idiomatic expressions, grammatical structures, and written characters. The course also helps students broaden their worldview by comparing Chinese cultural products, practices, and perspectives with those of their own society. With this background, students can ultimately move beyond a basic knowledge of Chinese culture to an understanding of how this reflects a Chinese worldview. Language and culture are inseparable; knowledge of Chinese culture is an integral part of this language and culture course.
Chinese V continues to develop proficiency at the intermediate-advanced level. This course improves students’ Chinese language skills and knowledge of the culture with an emphasis on reading and writing. Students are required to speak Chinese as much as possible. The instructor conducts the course primarily in Chinese.
Students learn more advanced grammar structures and sophisticated vocabulary. Vocabulary development and readings from a variety of sources help students comprehend increasingly difficult texts. Recordings of various conversations and reports are analyzed for listening comprehension. There is a focus on developing critical thinking skills and using them to formulate strong oral or written responses to questions concerning students’ own opinions or academic texts using appropriate vocabulary, word usage, and sentence structure.
Students continue developing skills in preparation for the academic work they encounter in high school and college courses and the TOEFL. Students practice summarizing, paraphrasing, note taking, and categorizing skills. Class discussions and homework assignments focus on integrating various skills in order to produce clearly organized and coherent essays or oral responses that exhibit control of advanced vocabulary, word choice, and sentence structures.
Latin I students follow Unit One of the Cambridge Latin Course (CLC), a reading-intensive approach that prefers visual and intuitive senses to understand language rather than the traditional memorization of paradigms. Each chapter introduces one or two linguistic concepts, just like traditional texts, but the CLC more fully integrates an interesting and continuous story line for subsequent chapters that educates students also in the fascinating cultural background of Roman affairs in the ancient Mediterranean world. Unit One is set in Pompeii and follows the family of Lucius Caecilius Iucundus, an historical character whose family actually lived in Pompeii before Mt. Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79. Students also focus on a “Checklist Vocabulary” for each chapter, recognizing a core set of words that will set them at a great advantage in English classes, the SAT, and everyday life.
Unit Two of the CLC follows the same pattern as Unit One and builds on its linguistic foundation but introduces students to a new locale. Mt. Vesuvius has erupted and Caecilius’ son Quintus escapes to Roman Britain near the Fishbourne Roman Palace, where a new set of characters are introduced. In the second half of Unit Two, Quintus recalls his initial travels after the eruption to Alexandria, Egypt. By the end of Unit Two, students have learned enough Latin that they are beginning to recognize grammatical paradigms that students of older more traditional texts are accustomed to, but they can read lengthier passages of Latin more quickly, with greater understanding and more enjoyment.
Unit Three of the CLC builds on Unit Two’s linguistic foundation, picking up in the Roman province of Britain, in the city of Aqua Sulae, or modern day Bath. Quintus is involved in various adventures, negotiating his way between a native king (Cogidubnus, or “C-Dub” as coined by SAS students) and an unscrupulous Roman official by the name of Salvius, who served under the famous Agricola (immortalized by his son-in-law the Roman historian Tacitus). By the end of Unit Three, students have learned enough about Latin that they recognize most of the grammatical paradigms that students of older more traditional texts are accustomed to, but they can read lengthier passages of Latin more quickly, with greater understanding and more enjoyment. Their knowledge of subjunctive usages exceeds that of traditional-text students. The quality of cultural information the CLC texts provide is outstanding, and students by now have a good working knowledge of Roman cultural history in a variety of areas: theater, gladiators, food, rhetoric, political process, Roman Britain, Roman Egypt, glass making, religions, military, and farming among many other topics.
Unit Four of the CLC builds on Unit Three’s linguistic foundation. In Unit Four the setting moves to Rome, a few years before the events from Unit Three in Britain. These stories follow Salvius and his ally Haterius along with several other aristocrats and ordinary citizens (plebeians). Salvius coordinates the famous downfall of the emperor Domitian’s wife. Before the end of this unit, students have been introduced to most every grammatical feature of the Latin language, so after a few Stages in Unit Four we may turn to reading actual Latin authors as determined by student interest. Lately we've read Caesar, Catullus, Petronius, and Vergil. We also have the luxury at SAS to change course slightly and study Greek. It is an excellent opportunity for students—they are usually eager for this—and their background in Latin helps them acquire the rudiments of this third sister language rather easily. By the end, they can often read the koine Greek of the New Testament with reasonable facility.
Latin V students collaborate with the instructor to focus on reading ancient Latin texts. The variety of choices is wide, but some of the more commonly selected authors we've recently read are: Caesar, Cicero, Apuleius, Vergil, Horace, Catullus, Petronius, Seneca and Lucretius. This advanced class is roughly the equivalent of a third or fourth year college course.
Spanish I is an introduction to Spanish language and Hispanic cultures. Students learn grammar and vocabulary and develop their speaking and listening skills. They construct, practice, and present simple dialogues and essays.
Spanish II students begin the year with a thorough review of grammar and basic skills of conversation and strengthen those skills. In pairs and in groups, they write paragraphs and short stories, working to expand vocabulary.
Spanish III students review grammar and are responsible for using constructions that are more sophisticated in written and oral communication. Students work in groups to research topics and present their findings in Spanish to the class.
Spanish IV students focus on improving communication and comprehension skills through a study of some of the most important legends of Latin America. We continue to focus on vocabulary and grammar.
Spanish V is designed to give students a deeper insight into the culture and history of Latin America and Spain through a study of films, music, and important texts written by contemporary Hispanic authors. Students are asked to keep a journal in Spanish, and they also turn in short papers every week in order to improve their writing skills. The class is conducted entirely in Spanish, and students are expected to actively participate during class discussions.
Spanish VI is an advanced level language course conducted completely in Spanish that focuses on the culture and history of Spain and Latin America. Students build on proficiency-based skills: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Students use literature, current events, and movies as points of departure for class discussions, presentations, and papers. Students keep a Spanish journal, which is checked and corrected to help improve vocabulary and grammar usage.