Academics
A Notre Dame Education

Modern and Classical Languages

    • The NDHS Modern & Classical Languages Department

Philosophy

In today's global society fluency in another language is a life advantage. Being able to communicate in a language other than one's own assists in developing responsible citizens of the world community, provides opportunities to appreciate and understand the diversity of other cultures, and provides expanded career opportunities. 

The French, Japanese, Mandarin, Spanish and Latin Clubs provide students with opportunities to experience the foods and traditions of the cultures.  The French Club celebrates French Week with French cuisine and music.  In the Latin Club, students explore ancient Rome's influence in art, architecture, literature, law, and politics, as well as learning about Roman history and mythology and their representation in contemporary media. Students also have opportunities to recreate ancient Roman artifacts through modeling, sculpture, and graphic design. The Japanese Club provides many opportunities to expose our students to Japanese culture. The Mandarin Club will be active for the 2020 - 2021 school year to receive students who are currently enrolled in their courses or those who are curious about expanding their horizons in the ancient language and culture.   

The Spanish Honor Society also hosts Hispanic Culture Week where foods from Spanish speaking countries are served with the added ambiance of Latin music. Students also have the opportunity to use their Spanish language while serving the Spanish-speaking communities of Los Angeles during the L.A. Immersion program. 

Students in the Japanese program can practice using Japanese to communicate with Japanese students online and face-to-face. We have a group of Japanese high school students visiting us every fall. They visit Japanese classes and interact with ND students using both English and Japanese. ND students have an opportunity to host them at home. We have on-going online exchange with Japanese college students who are learning English as well.
 
For the last three years, students also had an opportunity to learn traditional Japanese music and dance with a master teacher during X-period and performed at the International Cultural Talent Show Assembly.
 

Courses Offered

List of 31 items.

  • French I

    This level 1 course is designed for students to begin to build language proficiency in the four skills of listening, speaking, reading,  and writing. The course also includes an introduction to the geography, culture, and customs of French-speaking countries.

    (UC “e” LOTE)
  • French II

    A continuation of the material started in French I with an emphasis on the four skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. This course continues the study of the geography, culture, and history of French-speaking countries. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - Passing grade in French I or demonstrated fluency/mastery of French I  concepts on the French II placement exam. Students who earn semester grades lower than C- in French I are strongly encouraged to make it up in summer school before advancing to French II. (UC “e” LOTE)
  • Honors French II

    This course, taught primarily in French, follows the same outline of French II, at an accelerated rate, with greater emphasis on verbal, reading and composition skills. These skills are strengthened through supplementary readings which stimulate conversation and vocabulary building. As a level 2 LOTE foundation class, does not meet UC Honors certification. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - A- in both semesters of French I and department approval.  (UC “e” LOTE)
  • French III

    This course, taught primarily in French, seeks to bring students from the novice level of oral proficiency to the intermediate level where they can create with language, participate in progressively more challenging conversations, and communicate successfully in basic survival situations. It stresses the mastery of grammar and vocabulary, the development of reading and composition skills, a more detailed study of French culture, and introduces the student to brief works of French literature. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - C or higher in both semesters of French II (B- or higher recommended). (UC “e” LOTE)
  • Honors French III

    This course taught entirely in French, follows the same outline as French III but at an accelerated rate, with greater emphasis on verbal, reading and composition skills. These skills are strengthened through a study of extracts of contemporary Francophone literature and articles on contemporary social issues that stimulate conversation and vocabulary building.

    Prerequisites/Comments - A- in both semesters of French II and department approval. (UC “e” LOTE-UC Honors)
  • Honors French IV

    This course, taught entirely in French, is a fourth-year course designed to provide a rigorous and challenging opportunity for motivated who are committed to learning French without having to take the AP French exam. This course is conducted in French and is designed to develop a greater fluidity in speaking and listening. Students ask questions, do presentations, create dialogues and respond to prompts in French - both written and orally. Listening and dialogues develop at increasing speed and with varied accents while expanding vocabulary to include slang, idioms, oral expression, and professional jargon on a variety of topics.

    Prerequisites/Comments - A- in both semesters of French III or III Honors and department approval. (UC “e” LOTE-UC Honors pending)
  • AP French Language

    This course taught entirely in French, seeks to further develop verbal, reading, composition and grammar skills, emphasizing the use of French for active communication. The students will put these skills into practice while exploring history, arts, literature, culture, and current events in the French world. This course prepares students to take the Advanced Placement exam in the French language; all students are required to take the Advanced Placement Language exam. A fee that covers the cost of the test will be charged to each student. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - B- or higher in both semesters of French III and department approval. (UC “e” LOTE-UC AP/Honors)
  • Cultural Themes in French Cinema

    Upon taking this course, students will expand upon their knowledge of the French language and culture through the study of French films, television, comics, and more. Students will also be given the chance to perfect their spoken and written French by talking about and analyzing important events in French history. Through group discussions and class projects, every student will work on their communications skills as well as their analytical skills. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - B- or higher in both semesters of French III Honors, Honors French IV, or AP French Language and department approval. (UC “e” LOTE-UC AP/Honors)
  • Japanese I

    This course is an introduction to the Japanese language and culture, and it seeks to help students attain a novice level of oral proficiency. Students also learn to read and write Hiragana, Katakana, and some basic Kanji. Students are introduced to Japanese cultural aspects, including geography, customs, and manners. 

    (UC “e” LOTE)
  • Japanese II

    In this course, students continue learning to use Japanese in the three modes of communication; interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational, to develop a novice level of proficiency. Students develop basic reading and writing skills, using Hiragana, Katakana, and more Kanji. Students gain further understanding of Japanese cultural practices, products, and perspectives on daily life topics. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - Passing grade in Japanese I or demonstrated fluency/mastery of Japanese I  concepts. Students who earn semester grades lower than C- in Japanese I are strongly encouraged to make it up in summer school before beginning Japanese II.  (UC “e” LOTE) 
  • Japanese III

    This course, taught primarily in Japanese, seeks to bring students from the novice level of oral proficiency to the intermediate level where they can create with language, and communicate successfully in basic survival situations. Language and culture are fully integrated and students distinguish informal and polite speech styles. Students further develop reading and writing skills and learn more kanji. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - C or higher in both semesters of Japanese II (B- or higher recommended). (UC “e” LOTE) 
  • AP Japanese IV

    This course, taught entirely in Japanese, further develops the use of Japanese in three modes of communication; interpersonal,  interpretive, and presentational, to develop an intermediate level of proficiency in culturally appropriate manners and in wider contexts. This course prepares students to take the Advanced Placement Exam in Japanese Language and Culture; all students are required to take the Advanced Placement Exam. AP exam fee required. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - B- or higher in both semesters of Japanese III. (UC “e” LOTE-UC AP/Honors) 
  • Latin I

    In this introductory course, students read, pronounce, and understand adapted Latin texts and learn the basics of Latin grammar and syntax, including the five cases of nouns and adjectives, and the present, imperfect, and perfect tenses of verbs, as well as acquire a vocabulary base of approximately 400 words. Additionally, students will make connections between grammatical concepts in Latin and English and determine the meaning of English words based on a knowledge of their Latin roots. To put Latin in a historical and cultural context, students will learn about daily life in ancient Pompeii and Roman Britain and compare it with our own culture as they demonstrate knowledge of ancient Roman mythology, geography, and early history. 

    (UC “e” LOTE) 
  • Latin II

    In this intermediate course, students demonstrate proficiency in and expand upon the skills learned in Latin 1. They will read, pronounce, and understand adapted Latin, while mastering the uses of the pluperfect tense, imperative and subjunctive moods, passive voice, vocative case, and participles. Students will continue to build their vocabulary base, adding approximately 400 words to the Latin I base. To enrich their understanding and appreciation of Latin, students will explore the culture, geography, religion, and art of Roman Britain, especially at Aquae Sulis, and of first-century Egypt in the city of Alexandria. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - Passing grade in Latin I. Students who earn semester grades lower than C- in Latin I are strongly encouraged to make it up in summer school before beginning Latin II. (UC “e” LOTE) 
  • Latin III

    In this advanced course, students will demonstrate proficiency in and expand upon the skills learned in Latin II. They will continue to read, pronounce, and understand adapted and un-adapted passages of Latin, both prose and poetry, while mastering uses of indirect statements and the supine. Grammatical objectives include all active and passive tenses of the subjunctive not learned in Latin II, deponent verbs, and all tenses of the infinitive for use in indirect statements. Students will continue to build their vocabulary base, adding approximately 350 words to the Latin II base. Now that they are reading un-adapted Latin from Classical writers such as Pliny, Horace, Ovid, Vergil, and Livy, students will analyze the content and style of Latin texts, with special attention to figures of speech such as anaphora and asyndeton, and they will scan and read aloud poetry written in hendecasyllabic meter and elegiac couplets. To broaden their cultural understanding of ancient Rome, students will explore aspects of Roman military, religious, and civil culture, including marriage customs, military organization, and public offices. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - C or higher in both semesters of Latin II (B- or higher recommended). (UC “e” LOTE) 
  • Latin IV Honors

    Having mastered all the elements of Latin grammar, vocabulary, morphology, and syntax, students will read extended passages of un-adapted Latin prose, poetry, and drama, demonstrating their comprehension through translation, critical writing, and class discussion. Works include Plautus’ Aulularia; Eutropius’ The War with Hannibal; Petronius’ Trimalchio’s Banquet; Ovid’s Metamorphoses (selections); Perpetua’s Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity; and passages from the Book of Genesis in the Vulgate Bible. Students will continue to expand their vocabulary, focusing on the words used in particular works. Not only will they analyze and describe the literary aspects of the texts, including figures of speech, rhetorical devices, and poetic meter, but they will also identify and describe how significant political, historical, or philosophical developments influence an author’s perspective. Students will strengthen their writing skills, focusing on thesis construction, development of argument, and appropriate citation of the Latin text. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - B- or higher in both semesters of Latin III. (UC “e” LOTE-UC Honors) 
  • AP Latin

    In this advanced course, students will read un-adapted Latin poetry and prose according to the College Board syllabus for AP  Latin: selections from Caesar’s Gallic War and Vergil’s Aeneid. Having mastered all elements of Latin grammar, vocabulary,  morphology, and syntax, students will continue to expand vocabulary, focusing on words used in particular works rather than isolated vocabulary lists, and develop the ability to deduce the meaning of unknown words using context clues, knowledge of root words, prefixes, and English derivatives. In keeping with the objectives of the AP Latin syllabus, students will demonstrate comprehension of un-adapted Latin poetry and prose through translation, critical writing based on Advanced Placement free-response prompts, and class discussion. To prepare for the AP exam, students will strengthen skills of literary analysis in critical essays using appropriate Latin citations, while demonstrating knowledge of the social, cultural, and historical context of the literature on the AP Latin syllabus. Students are required to take the Advanced Placement Exam. AP exam fee required.

    Prerequisites/Comments - B- or higher in both semesters of Latin III. (UC “e” LOTE-UC AP Honors) 
  • Spanish I

    This course seeks to help students begin proficiency in the four skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing and serves as an introduction to the geography, culture and customs of Spanish-speaking countries.

    (UC “e” LOTE) 
  • Spanish II

    A further study of the material started in Spanish I, with a greater emphasis on developing the novice level of proficiency in the four skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. This course continues the study of the geography, culture and history of Spanish-speaking countries. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - Requires a passing grade in Spanish I. Students who have taken a course equivalent to Spanish I for a full year, and who pass a placement exam, are also eligible. Students who earn semester grades lower than C- in Spanish I are strongly encouraged to make it up in summer school before advancing to Spanish II. (UC “e” LOTE) 
  • Spanish II for Heritage Learners

    This course is designed for learners who are adept in the Spanish language through speaking it in the home or frequently with friends/family members. The course is taught entirely in Spanish, uses a methodology similar to that used in Spanish II Honors while reinforcing written accuracy and further strengthening oral proficiency. Written and oral communication skills are also further developed through literary, historical and cultural readings. At the end of this course, students are well prepared to go on to AP Spanish Language and Culture. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - C or higher in Spanish I. Spanish-speaking students who demonstrate fluency and proficiency in listening, reading, and writing on a placement test are also eligible.  (UC “e” LOTE) 
  • Honors Spanish II

    This course is taught using Spanish immersion instructional techniques. Instruction is in the Spanish language at least  75% of the time. Honors Spanish II follows the same language development and progression outline as the content covered in  Spanish II college prep. It proceeds at an accelerated rate and covers the topics in increased depth and breadth using language immersion strategies and with greater emphasis on developing verbal, reading, and composition skills. While immersion as an instructional experience will be new to most students and may require some adjustment time, the Notre Dame MCLD department is committed to Spanish immersion as an instructional technique that research identifies as one of the best ways to guide students toward achieving language fluency. Student language skills are strengthened through supplementary material that focuses on developing reading and comprehension proficiency, along with critical thinking skills. In-class activities include simulated conversation, original literature and culture, and vocabulary-building prompts. As a level 2 foundation class, the University of California does not approve UC Honors certification.

    Prerequisites/Comments - A- in both semesters of Spanish I college prep. Students must also satisfactorily complete an Honors Spanish II placement test and obtain department approval. Spanish-speaking students with a strong academic record who demonstrate fluency and proficiency in listening, reading, and writing on a placement test are also eligible.  (UC “e” LOTE) 
  • Spanish III

    This course, taught primarily in Spanish, seeks to bring students from the novice level of oral proficiency to the intermediate level where they can create with language, participate in progressively more challenging conversations, and communicate successfully in basic survival situations. It stresses the mastery of grammar and vocabulary, the development of reading and composition skills, a more detailed study of Hispanic culture, and introduces the student to brief works of Spanish and Latin American literature. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - C or higher in both semesters of Spanish II college prep (B- or higher recommended) or C- or higher in both semesters of Spanish II Honors or Spanish II HL. (UC “e” LOTE) 
  • Honors Spanish III

    This course is taught using Spanish immersion instructional techniques. Instruction is in the Spanish language at least 75% of the time. Honors Spanish II follows the same language development and progression outline as the content covered in Spanish  II college prep. It proceeds at an accelerated rate and covers the topics in increased depth and breadth using language immersion strategies and with greater emphasis on developing verbal, reading, and composition skills. These skills are strengthened through a study of extracts of contemporary Spanish and Latin American literature and articles on contemporary social issues that stimulate conversation and vocabulary building. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - A- in both semesters of Spanish II college prep or B- or higher in Spanish II HL or Spanish II Honors. Spanish II college prep students must also satisfactorily complete a placement test and obtain department approval. (UC “e” LOTE - UC Honors) 
  • Spanish IV

    This course taught entirely in Spanish, seeks to further develop the skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing, stressing awareness and understanding of the contemporary Spanish-speaking world. This course focuses on motivating students to express and discuss their ideas, interests and experiences in Spanish, using the target language for real-life communication. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - B- or higher in both semesters of Spanish III or Spanish III Honors. (UC “e” LOTE)
  • AP Spanish Language & Culture

    This course, taught entirely in Spanish, is intended for students who wish to develop proficiency in speaking, listening, reading,  composition, and utilization of appropriate grammatical, lexical, and sociolinguistic features. Through the use of authentic materials and sources, the course strives to develop proficiency in three communicative modes (Interpersonal, Interpretive, and  Presentational) and to meet specific goals of national standards. Through the students’ exploration of numerous Hispanic cultures,  current events, and literature, this course provides students an experience equivalent to a third-year college course in the Spanish language and a greater cultural and global awareness. Students will be required to do reading, writing, and website activities the summer before the fall semester in which they enroll. This course prepares students to take the Advanced Placement exam in  Spanish language and culture, which students are required to take. AP Exam fee required. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - A- or higher in both semesters of Spanish III college prep or B- or higher in both semesters of Spanish III Honors. Spanish III college prep students must also satisfactorily complete a placement test and obtain department approval. (UC “e” LOTE-UC AP/Honors)
  • AP Spanish Literature and Culture

    This course, taught entirely in Spanish, presents an overview of literary works of all genres by renowned Spanish, Latin  American, and U.S. Hispanic authors from the 14th through the 21st century. Through the methodology’s focus on the terminology of textual analysis, features of the genres, literary movements, and the global, historical, social, and political contexts of the works, students learn to interpret texts and identify different elements of style and their themes. The thematic analyses reveal connections between works across time. Readings and activities expose students to cultural products and perspectives of various Hispanic cultures to broaden and deepen their comprehension of the works studied. Linguistic analyses of these works further promote and strengthen their oral and written expression in Spanish. This course prepares students to take the Advanced  Placement Exam in Spanish Literature and Culture, which students are required to take. AP Exam fee required. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - B- or higher in both semesters of AP Spanish Language and department approval. (UC “e” LOTE - UC AP/Honors)
  • Mandarin I

    This course introduces the fundamentals of Mandarin Chinese and builds skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The class begins with the pronunciation system (Pinyin) and the basic principles of Chinese character writing, then emphasizes grammar and vocabulary acquisition, as well as the development of listening and speaking skills. Daily dialogues provide a foundation for improving students’ communication abilities. Students will learn how to use language with topics such as family, friends, food, and school life, in addition to the cultural richness of Chinese lifestyle, values, and beliefs. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - This course is designed for students with no Chinese language background. Students with Mandarin language experience should test for Mandarin II or higher. (UC “e” LOTE)
  • Mandarin II

    This course is a continuation of Mandarin I with more advanced vocabulary, grammar, and sentence patterns. Students will learn to converse, read, and write in modern Chinese about various real-life situations including school subjects and activities, weather and seasons, shopping and payment, and Chinese food. Students will also read and study various short stories about daily Chinese life. Students will also write longer essays in Chinese and delve deeper into aspects of Chinese culture and customs. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - This course is a continuation of Mandarin I. Students who have taken a course equivalent of Mandarin I for a full year, and who pass a placement test, are also eligible. Students who earn semester grades lower than C- in Mandarin I are encouraged to make it up in summer school before taking Mandarin II. (UC “e” LOTE)
  • Mandarin III

    This course concentrates on developing oral proficiency. Extensive study and practice using everyday vocabulary, such as traveling, dining, and shopping, will provide opportunities for improving the accuracy of pronunciation and the ability to negotiate real-life situations. Reading and writing skills will be taught through the reading of short stories, news items, and writing paragraphs. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - This course is a continuation of Mandarin II. Students who have taken a course equivalent of Mandarin II for a full year, and who pass a placement test, are eligible. Students who earn semester grade lower than B- are strongly encouraged to make it up in summer school before taking Mandarin III. (UC “e” LOTE)
  • Honors Chinese III

    Chinese III (H) is an accelerated, specialized, and advanced course designed for students who have already completed the foundational work in the subject and are prepared to undertake a more rigorous study of the Chinese language and culture. The workload and rigor of Honors Chinese III are comparable to an introductory college-level course. This course precedes the AP  Chinese Language and Culture class and exam. Honors Chinese III moves swiftly through the course vocabulary and grammar,  thus allowing more time for students to dive deeper into the nuances and complex constructions of the language. A series of substantive unit projects combined with a comprehensive final examination provides students ample opportunity to exhibit the depth of knowledge and sustained mastery of subject material. By the end of the course, students should be familiar with over 1,000 Chinese characters.

    Prerequisites/Comments - Students who have taken a course equivalent of Mandarin II for a full year,  earning a grade of “B-” or higher are eligible. Department permission and/or placement testing may be required for students who do not meet the level II prerequisite. (UC “e” LOTE - UC AP/Honors)
  • AP Chinese Language

    This course is a continuation of Mandarin III. At this level students focus on advanced grammar study and increase their proficiency in listening, speaking, reading and writing skills through a wide range of issues current in China, including social changes and legal issues such as family relationships, environmental problems, events, and exhibitions. Moreover, Chinese culture will be discussed in greater depth such as ancient philosophical ideas, ancient classics and traditional customs which are still evident and influential in the social lives of modern Chinese, so students can have a better understanding of its culture and society. Classes will be conducted in Chinese; students will also practice more in using Chinese in different situations, in a way that is grammatically acceptable and culturally appropriate. The course follows the College Board standards for AP Chinese Language coursework. Students are required to take the AP Exam. AP Exam fee required. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - Students who have taken a course equivalent of Mandarin III for a full year, and who pass a placement test, are eligible. Students who earn semester grade lower than B are strongly encouraged to make it up in summer school before taking Mandarin IV. (UC “e” LOTE - UC AP/Honors)

Congratulations to our Japanese Speech Contest Winners!

Students Mikhail Tupaz (Japanese 4) won first place and Megan Pajarito (Japanese 2) won second place at the US Regional Japanese Speech Contest during the 2020-21 school year. They competed against twenty-one other high school students from all over the US. The theme was “What can we do now to overcome challenges?”. Mikhail discussed life lessons he learned from his embroidery experience during quarantine and Megan talked about the power of art to make herself and others happy in this challenging time. 

Faculty

List of 12 items.

  • Jennifer Serrano

    Modern & Classical Languages Department Chair
    Spanish II Honors
    Spanish II
    (818) 933-3638
    serrano@ndhs.org
  • Rosalina Castillo

    Spanish IV
    Spanish I
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3406
    castillo@ndhs.org
  • Jennie Chang

    AP Chinese Language
    Mandarin III
    Mandarin II
    Mandarin I
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3464
  • Alicia Coffey

    Spanish II Honors
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3407
  • Jorge Guillen

    AP Spanish Language
    Spanish III Honors
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3440
    guillen@ndhs.org
  • Reese Hatcher

    AP Lain/Latin IV Honors
    Latin III
    Latin II
    Latin I
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3442
    hatcher@ndhs.org
  • Kathleen Ludden

    Spanish II
    French I
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3499
    ludden@ndhs.org
  • Maggie Preas

    Spanish Teacher
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3412
    preas@ndhs.org
  • Kyoko Shoji

    AP Japanese Language
    Japanese III
    Japanese II
    Japanese I
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3408
    shoji@ndhs.org
  • Joanne Shumway

    Spanish II
    Spanish I
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3452
    shumway@ndhs.org
  • Christine Stewart

    AP French/French IV Honors
    French III Honors
    French II Honors
    French II
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3436
    stewart@ndhs.org
  • Buenaventura Torres-Ayala

    Spanish III
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3430
    torres@ndhs.org
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