Modern & Classical Languages
At Columbus School for Girls, we recognize the importance of teaching students to be globally literate. To that end, we have made learning a second language part of our core curriculum in the Upper School. The five languages taught at CSG are Spanish, Latin, Mandarin, German, and American Sign Language. Spanish is integrated into the curriculum beginning in Form I with Latin becoming an option in Form VII. Mandarin, German, and American Sign Language begin as options in Form IX. In the Upper School, taking three years of a second language is required for graduation, and many students take course in two languages. Classroom emphasis is on teaching language skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking) as well as culture, history, and literature. Additional languages, such as French, Italian, and Ancient Greek, may be offered for independent study. To further promote global literacy as a departmental and school-wide goal, CSG encourages and supports students to travel and study abroad annually. Recent destinations include Spain, Guatemala, Ecuador, Chile, China, Germany, and Italy.
American Sign Language I
This course provides an introduction to American Sign Language and Deaf culture. The class is taught from a communicative stance, which requires interaction with the deaf community. The course focuses on comprehension and production of fingerspelling, introductory numbers, basic ASL, and its grammatical structure.
American Sign Language II
This course utilizes a practical approach to teaching vocabulary, grammar, and cultural aspects through “real life” conversational experience. More attention is given to students’ production of the language, while receptive/comprehensive skills continue to be emphasized. Students acquire an increased awareness of ASL/Deaf culture and the rules and norms that govern their practice. We provide additional information about the deaf community via outside material and class discussions.
American Sign Language III
This course continues to develop the foundations of American Sign Language taught in ASL I and II. Students continue to focus on grammatical features such as spatialization, directionality, and non-manual components. In addition, there is intensive work in vocabulary development, as well as a deeper study of deaf culture.
This course emphasizes communication in everyday situations. Instruction focuses on communicative functions, such as greeting others, inviting friends, expressing emotions and opinions, and seeking information. A variety of exercises and activities help students become more proficient in listening, speaking, reading, and writing German. The basics of grammar are taught in and through their communicative context. In the second semester, short stories supplement the text. Students can expect to be engaged in several creative projects throughout the year including geographical/cultural research on a German-speaking city, self-authored books, and a family tree.
German II reviews the basic skills acquired in German I and expands on them. Role play, pair work, and creative assignments provide ways to increase students’ ability to read, write, speak, and understand German. Real life situations such as dialogues in restaurants and at the train station are imitated in the classroom. Class discussions, readings, and written assignments are primarily in German. Through a variety of resources, students will continue to learn more about German culture and history.
German III is taught primarily in German. All grammatical concepts are reviewed through a series of short stories that improve vocabulary and translation skills. Each semester, students are required to read a longer novel of their choosing. The course emphasizes regular writing assignments related to class readings that range from simple to quite complex.
There are additional speaking experiences designed to improve the students’ conversational skills. When possible, students will Skype with native speakers in Germany and Switzerland. When German students visit the campus as part of the Wobst/CSG Cultural Exchange Program, we take advantage of this opportunity to challenge and improve students’ conversational proficiency by engaging in many formal and informal interactions in and out of the classroom.
German IV is taught primarily in German. We review all grammatical concepts through a series of short stories that improve vocabulary and translation skills. Written German essays, which are based on a variety of subjects and themes, are required every other week. Students will work to improve their conversational proficiency by engaging in many formal and informal interactions in and out of the classroom. These interactions will include communicating with native German speakers via Skype, as well as conversing in person with German exchange students from Dresden, Germany as part of the Wobst/CSG Cultural Exchange Program. Additionally, we show German videos and films in class throughout the year to help develop each student’s listening skills. At this level, some students will have the opportunity to tutor German I and II students as the opportunity presents.
Formal introduction to the classical language is accomplished through a blend of the reading and grammar approaches using Latin for Americans grammatical approach using Wheelock’s Latin. The textbook is supplemented with Latin readings from 38 Latin Stories, a graded reader in Greek and Roman myth that accompanies Wheelock’s Latin. The focus of the course is on mastering Latin vocabulary and grammar, especially noun and verb forms, as well as building skills in reading and translation into English. Systematic expansion of English vocabulary occurs through detailed study of Latin stems bases and modern root derivation. Students are exposed to Roman culture and history through a variety of readings in English from These Were the Romans.
Students continue the blend of reading and grammar-based approaches with the Latin for Americans textbook series. A traditional grammar-based approach continues, with students completing Wheelock’s Latin by the end of the year. More complex grammar is introduced, including the subjunctive mood, participles, gerunds, gerundives, and all varieties of subordinate clauses. We continue with readings in 38 Latin Stories, a graded reader that approximates a variety of texts derived from real Classical Latin. Students develop their understanding of Roman culture and history through a variety of readings in English from These Were the Romans and from material provided by the instructor. Students also gain elementary skills in Latin prose composition.
In the student’s third year, coursework transitions from slightly adapted Latin to a focus on real Latin, with readings drawn from Greek and Roman mythology and authors such as Cicero and Livy, Aesop, Pliny, Seneca, Ovid, and Caesar. Students review grammar in depth with a concentration on those forms and grammatical constructions found in standard prose authors. This culminates in more advanced prose compositions based on the style of Cicero. Instruction then focuses on rhetorical devices, stylistic elements and literary tropes that are developed with each new author. Students gain an appreciation of classical literature by reading the Aeneid in English, as well as selections from the Iliad and Odyssey and various other works of Greek and Roman literature.
This course is a survey of Latin literature with Augustan poetry as the main focus, centering primarily on the literature of Vergil, Ovid, Horace, and Catullus. Additionally, students read selections from prose authors such as Livy, Pliny, and Caesar. Scansion of dactylic hexameter and elegiac couplets are studied in depth, with the student attaining mastery in this area by the end of the course. Following the unit on Latin poetry, students will focus on ancient philosophy by translating the Stoic and Neo-Platonic texts by Seneca and Cicero and comparing them to Greek philosophical schools and authors such as Plato, Isocrates, and Aristotle in English translation. Students will also read a variety of texts about women in Rome, so as to develop a greater understanding of women’s important but often under-represented position in the ancient world.
This course prepares students for undergraduate Latin translation and Classics courses. Students primarily read, discuss, and interpret Virgil and Caesar, but also a variety of canonical prose authors such as Cicero, Livy, Sallust, and Seneca, and important poets such as Ovid, Catullus, Horace, and Propertius. Students study scansion of dactylic hexameter and elegiac couplets through in-depth, accelerated analysis of the major poets. Students read the relevant biographical and stylistic information for each author from Gian Biagio Conte’s Latin Literature.
Advanced Placement Latin
The Advanced Placement (AP) Latin course prepares students for undergraduate Latin translation and Classics courses, as well as the AP examination in Latin. Some class time will be spent discussing the format of the exam, its scoring, and successful test-taking strategies. Students will work on numerous exercises from practice AP Exams in order to become as familiar as possible with the test. In the course, students comprehensively read, discuss, and interpret Virgil and Caesar in preparation for the AP Latin exam, but also analyze a variety of canonical prose authors such as Cicero, Livy, Sallust, and Seneca, with sight-reading from Tacitus, Suetonius, and Augustus. Students study scansion of dactylic hexameter and elegiac couplets through in-depth, accelerated analysis of the major poets, which include but are not limited to Ovid, Catullus, Horace, and Propertius. In a unit on ancient rhetoric, students address a variety of authors, including extensive readings from Cicero, as well as complete exercises in Ciceronian prose composition. Students read the relevant biographical and stylistic information for each author from Gian Biagio Conte’s Latin Literature.
Advanced Readings in Latin Literature
The Advanced Readings in Latin Literature course provides students who have completed AP Latin an opportunity to translate and analyze particular Latin authors not covered by the AP Latin curriculum. The quantity and expectation of work is equivalent to a college undergraduate reading course in Latin. The course focuses on the genre of biography, and students read and analyze the biographers Cornelius Nepos and Suetonius, who wrote about prominent historical figures ranging from Hannibal to the Roman emperors. Reading selections will change from year to year but will emphasize canonical Latin authors commonly taught at the undergraduate level, including Seneca, Cicero, Livy, and Tacitus. Students will complete exercises in Ciceronian prose composition and subsequently will render contemporary speeches into Latin. There is also a significant research writing component to the course that emphasizes breadth of preparation and analysis.
Mandarin Chinese I
Chinese I focuses on oral communication in Mandarin Chinese. Chinese culture, as well as reading and typing in Chinese are also covered. Students learn Chinese through such activities as playing language games, performing skits, watching Chinese soap operas, and conversing (via Skype) with students in China. They will also learn about Chinese foods and cooking styles. The topics that will be covered in class include: Chinese greetings, family relationships, days of the week, telling time, hobbies, visiting friends, ordering food and beverages, making appointments, and shopping. By the end of the course, students will be able to express themselves on familiar topics using learned material and memorized phrases.
Mandarin Chinese II
Students in Chinese II will continue to develop their skills in listening, speaking, reading, writing, and typing Chinese. We combine language practice with Chinese cultural knowledge by having students use Chinese in real-life contexts. Additional class activities include taking field trips and interviewing native Chinese speakers. Topics covered include school life, transportation and weather, eating out, asking directions, attending a party, and seeing a doctor. At the end of this course, students will be able to form their own sentences in order to handle a number of uncomplicated communicative tasks.
Mandarin Chinese III
Students in Chinese III will continue to develop their skills in listening, speaking, reading, writing, and typing Chinese. Students also study Chinese culture, and class activities focus on using the language in real-life contexts. In addition, students take field trips, participate in group discussions, and interview native Chinese speakers. The topics covered will include Chinese literature, the history of Chinese food, Chinese geography, and China’s educational system. At the end of this course, students will be able to handle a wide range of uncomplicated communicative tasks.
Mandarin Chinese IV
Students in Chinese IV will continue to develop their skills in listening, speaking, reading, writing, and typing Chinese. In this advanced class, students will work with longer dialogues and deal with more complicated social situations. Class activities will include discussing contemporary social issues, analyzing scenes from Chinese literature (including popular soap operas), and working together as a group to create an original situational drama.
This course teaches the basics of Spanish grammar. The class emphasizes not only written expression and correct grammar usage, but also proper oral expression and pronunciation. Students focus on creativity with the language and speak it as much as possible in class. Daily assignments and in-class activities, such as written exercises, board work, question-answer routines, mini-plays, listening exercises, and Spanish language videos, challenge students to practice and improve their Spanish listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills, as well as build their vocabulary. This class is conducted primarily in Spanish, although English may be used, especially early in the year, when the students have little or no experience with the language.
This course reviews and builds on the basics of Spanish grammar learned in Spanish I. It includes a detailed study of new grammar, including nearly every verb tense in the Spanish language, as well as many other grammatical topics. Reading and writing skills are practiced through daily assignments and board work. There is an increased emphasis on speaking and listening skills in level II, and thus many in-class activities are geared towards working on those skills. Students speak with partners, perform skits in groups, and engage in conversation with the teacher on a daily basis. Students learn new vocabulary in each unit, but they are strongly encouraged to make use of dictionaries and to practice circumlocution whenever they can. The teacher conducts the primarily in Spanish, although English may occasionally be used to clarify difficult grammatical issues.
This course provides an intensive review of the grammar learned in Spanish II, and it also introduces new grammatical and literary topics in Spanish. In addition, this course focuses on the history and culture of the many Hispanic people in the United States (Hispanic Americans), Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Spain. Historical/cultural readings from the textbook, in conjunction with literature, videos, and art, are used to foster the students’ understanding of these countries. This information also serves as a source for class discussion and for many class assignments, such as papers, skits, projects, etc. The instructor teaches the class entirely in Spanish and students speak Spanish at all times with encouragement toward creativity in conversation.
This course immerses students in the study of grammar and literature. The year is primarily dedicated to an intensive review of all Spanish grammar, with a concentration on the more challenging concepts. Students will also read several short stories in Spanish by Latin American and Spanish authors such as García Márquez, Allende, Ulibarri, Pardo Bazán, and Matute. Whether studying grammar or reading literature, students will work on improving their listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills through daily assignments, skits performed in class, composition and grammar projects, listening exercises, and class discussions. This class is taught entirely in Spanish.
This course is open to all students who wish to study and review Spanish literature and grammar. The curriculum emphasizes the study of short stories and poems, as well as the application of key grammatical points to written and oral language. Class discussions are conducted exclusively in Spanish as students practice the spoken language, debate current political and literary topics, and also write their own dramas and poems to share with their peers. Spanish films are used to support coursework and students compare and contrast the themes of the films to those encountered in the short stories we study during the school year. This student-centered course challenges each participant to think in another language and to grow in understanding of other times and cultures. Spanish V prepares the students to pursue the study of Spanish literature and language at the college level.
Advanced Placement Spanish Language
This course challenges students to develop a high level of fluency in spoken language, to acquire a command of vocabulary and language structure similar to that of a native speaker, and to understand complex literary and non-literary prose written by Spanish and Latin American authors. Class discussion is conducted entirely in Spanish. This student-centered course also challenges each participant to think in another language and to grow in understanding of other times and cultures. This college-level course prepares students for the AP Spanish Language examination. Some of the class time will be spent discussing the format of the test, its scoring, and successful test-taking strategies. Students work on numerous practice exercises from each section of the test in order to improve their skills and to become as familiar and as comfortable with the test as possible. All students enrolled in this course are required to take the AP Spanish Language examination.