Departments

Languages

Language Department Overview

In our interconnected world of the 21st century, the students of today will be the leaders of tomorrow. Geographic boundaries are becoming blurred by economic realities. Therefore, it is essential that students educated in the US be exposed to different languages, cultures, and customs. The goal of the languages department is to teach essential skills (reading comprehension, listening comprehension, speaking, writing) as the fundamental components of communication. Yet learning a language at Suffield also means experiencing a culture. The examination of history, culture, and traditions are a part of the intellectual process. Learning about customs and context helps the language come alive. The languages department operates under the belief that an essential goal of a liberal arts education is to instill in students a knowledge and appreciation of a language other than the student's native tongue. In addition, each March students are offered the opportunity to travel abroad and experience learning beyond the Suffield campus.
 
Suffield’s languages curriculum teaches students to:
↪ Better understand the world through the study of language and culture
↪ Use acquired language skills to pursue other academic disciplines
↪ Communicate in the language being studied
↪ Understand the English language more completely in the context of bilingualism

Course Descriptions

List of 23 frequently asked questions.

  • CHINESE I

    Term: Full year
    The first level course in spoken and written Mandarin Chinese introduces basic vocabulary and sentence structure for communicating about oneself, family, hobbies, and daily life. Students study Chinese pronunciation (pinyin) and tones, simplified Chinese characters, and the fundamental elements of grammar. Students practice the four basic language skills (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) with emphasis placed on the accelerated learning of Chinese characters.
  • CHINESE II

    Term: Full year
    During this course, students deepen their command of language skills acquired in the first year to further develop their speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills in a variety of topics, such as school life, transportation, and weather. Students continue the acquisition of Chinese vocabulary and the study of grammar.Class meetings emphasize oral proficiency and sharpeningreading and writing skills. Regular written assignments andlonger compositions are used to develop written proficiency. Prerequisite: Chinese I and/or placement testing.
  • CHINESE III

    Term: Full year
    This course is designed to build on the fundamental grammar and vocabulary learned in earlier levels by introducing more advanced syntax and adding more sophisticated topics for conversation and translation. Students use a variety of media to learn about Chinese culture, history and current events, while also building practical oral skills. With a focus on understanding cultural differences, students develop their language skills through discussions, written work,and interactive project-based learning assessments. Prerequisite: Chinese II and/or placement testing.
  • CHINESE IV

    Term: Full year
    This is an advanced level Chinese course that aims to help students further strengthen the four basic language skills of speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Continuous expansion of their knowledge of Chinese characters and advanced grammar allow students to read primary sources and to speak and write aboutsuch topics as cultural differences between the US and China, economic and political issues, and traveling in China. Studentslearn to use their Chinese in more sophisticated ways through interviews with native speakers, in-class debates and presentations, and discussions of literary selections. Prerequisite: Chinese IIIand/or placement testing.
  • BEGINNING LITERATURE

    Term: Full year
    This course is designed for students whose native language is not English and introduces them to American and international stories and novels that are typical for a high school English course. The texts expose students to literature that offers various points of view, rich literary devices, life lessons, and opportunities for critical thinking. Students will learn techniques to increase their reading rate, word recognition, and comprehension skills while strengthening their knowledge of authors, basic literary terms, and genres. The texts will also provide the subject matter for a variety of oral and written practice throughout the year. Writing will focus on both form and expression, and students will express themselves orally in conversation, discussions and presentations. By the end of the year, students will acquire the skills necessary for success in Suffield’s English courses. Prerequisite: Multiple-measures assessment (placement test).
  • BEGINNING GRAMMAR AND WRITING

    Term: Full year
    This course is designed for students whose native language is not English and who need to acquire a level of proficiency necessary to function successfully in their other courses. Students will learn a breadth of fundamental grammar and vocabulary to support and enhance their reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. They will learn multiple strategies to improve listening and reading comprehension skills through the use of short, fiction and non-fiction texts, podcasts and videos. They will write on a variety of topics to improve both their grammatical accuracy and their ability to express themselves in writing. Students will also practice speaking in different real-life genres to gain more confidence and fluency in everyday scenarios. By the end of this course, students will be able to use the language with greater confidence and fluency. Prerequisite: Multiple-measures assessment (placement test).
  • ENGLISH GRAMMAR AND WRITING

    Term: Full
    This course is designed for students who have completed Beginning Literature and Writing and need to keep developing their English language skills. Students will practice using the language with a focus on the four areas of language study: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. They will work towards the goals of increasing their vocabulary, sharpening their oral presentation and conversation skills, improving their reading and listening comprehension skills, broadening their knowledge of grammar, and refining their writing abilities through the use of periodicals, textbooks, and other current media. Students enrolled in this course will also be taking a regular English course. It is expected that at the end of the course, students will be able to use the language with greater accuracy and will have a stronger foundation in all areas of the English language. Prerequisite: Basic ESL or multiple-measures assessment (placement test).
  • ADVANCED SYNTAX AND T.O.E.F.L.

    Term: Full year
    This class is designed for students who have completed English Grammar and Writing and need to continue improving their English skills. The goals of the course include: sharpening students’ reading comprehension skills and expanding their academic vocabulary through the use of various pieces of fiction and non-fiction; helping students develop advanced writing skills such as paraphrasing, analyzing, critiquing, and citing sources, with an emphasis on editing and proofreading one’s work; reinforcing students’ ability to communicate clearly both orally and in writing; introducing students to advanced grammar topics such as the conditional and relative clauses, passive voice, reported speech, and punctuation in compound and complex sentences; and providing ample practice in preparation for the TOEFL exam. By the end of this course, students are expected to develop into competent readers and writers and be able to function at a level close to their native-speaking peers. Prerequisite: English Grammar and Writing or multiple-measures assessment (placement test).
  • FRENCH I

    Term: Full year
    The first level of French is an introduction to French language and culture. Through a systematic approach each student is assisted in beginning to attain a level of proficiency in the four skills of speaking, listening, reading, and writing, with an emphasis on speaking and listening.
  • FRENCH II

    Term: Full year
    The course is a continuation and expansion of the four skills (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) that the students began developing in the first year. In the second year, there is increasing emphasis on using language for oral and written communication, where study of the four skills and culture reinforce one another. Vocabulary and grammar are practiced in the context of real-life situations. Written expression is developed through work on topic-oriented paragraphs and short essays. Reading selections such as articles, ads and adapted excerpts of literary texts expand the students’ knowledge of the everyday culture and customs of French-speaking countries. Within this communicative approach, grammatical accuracy continues to play an important part in the presentation, practice and assessment of the language. Prerequisite: French I and/or placement testing.
  • FRENCH III

    Term: Full year
    In the third year of French, students learn new elements of language while continuing to use and reinforce the vocabulary and grammar introduced and practiced in French I and II. As in the first two levels, emphasis is placed on functional language for real life contexts. At the third-year level, while accuracy is still stressed as students review and learn new grammatical structures, expressing and understanding ideas in the language become increasingly important. Students work with language in context through composition writing, dialogues, essays, articles and short stories. Literature is gradually introduced in order to further develop analytical writing skills and critical thinking. Prerequisite: French II and/or placement testing.
  • FRENCH IV

    Term: Full year
    French IV is designed to build the language skills of students who plan to take French V or continue with language studies in college. The main goal of this course is to develop reading, writing, and oral communication skills. The class will review grammar topics discussed in previous courses and will study more advanced grammar. The course guides students through the study of French and civilization and culture as portrayed in literature and historical narratives. Prerequisite: French III and/or placement testing.
  • FRENCH V

    Term: Full year
    French V Honors is an advanced course in French language and literature. The course includes a thorough grammar review, while emphasis is placed on the readings and analysis of selected works of the 18th, 19th, and 20th century French literature. The class is conducted in French. Students interested in taking the French Language AP exam are given the required preparation. Prerequisite: French IV and/or placement testing.
  • SPANISH I

    Term: Full year
    The course aims to develop the skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing Spanish on a beginning level. Students are involved in a systematic study of Spanish grammar, vocabulary, and sentence and verb tense formation. The presentation of grammatical structure and vocabulary is made, in part, by reading paragraphs, as well as by the partial or complete memorization of dialogues which deal with everyday situations and a variety of geographical and historical topics. Exercises, both oral and written, are used to practice, reinforce, and review throughout the course. Increasing attention is paid to conversation and particularly to pronunciation as a grammaticalbasis becomes established. There is some focus on Hispanic culture in class discussions.
  • SPANISH II

    Term: Full year
    The course is a continuation and expansion of the four skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) that the students began to develop in the first year. Vocabulary and grammar are practiced in the context of real-life situations. Written expression is developed through work on topic-oriented paragraphs and short essays, while students’ knowledge of the everyday culture and customs of Spanish-speaking countries is expanded through reading selections (articles, advertisements, and surveys). Within this communicative approach, grammatical accuracy continues to play an important part in presentation, practice, and assessment. Prerequisite: Spanish I and/or placement testing.
  • SPANISH II HONORS

    Term: Full year
    This intensive course, while following the curriculum of Spanish II, emphasizes the use of language for communication and the development of advanced reading and writing skills. A widevariety of supplementary readings, in-class projects and presentations, and regularly assigned essays are importantelements in reinforcing the four basic skills and in ensuring the mastery of the material. Prerequisite: Spanish I and teacher recommendation, or placement testing.
  • SPANISH III

    Term: Full year
    In the third year of Spanish, students learn new elements of language while continuing to use and reinforce the vocabulary and grammar introduced and practiced in Spanish I and II. While accuracy continues to be stressed, expressing and understanding ideas in the language become increasingly important. Students work with language through composition, oral dialogues, and reading selections which provide a context for discussion of Hispanic culture. Prerequisite: Spanish II and/or placement testing.
  • SPANISH III HONORS

    Term: Full year
    The emphasis of the course is on increasing students’ speaking, reading, and writing proficiency in the context of the Spanish III curriculum. Mastery of more advanced elements of grammar is achieved through extensive work on independent culture-based projects presented by students in class. Spanish language films are shown and analyzed, the Internet is used widely as a resource, and supplementary literary selections by Spanish and Latin American authors further expand students’ understanding and appreciation of the language, history and culture. The course is conducted in Spanish. Prerequisite: Spanish II Honors and teacher recommendation.
  • SPANISH IV

    Term: Full year
    The focus of the Spanish IV course is to master the art of effective communication in the target language. It is designed to continue Spanish I, II and III in the development of functional proficiency in all four language skills (reading, writing, listening, speaking), and serve as an introduction to literature. The development of vocabulary as well as a comprehensive review of grammar is the core of this course. It is for students who are motivated to continue the study of language. The course is conducted in Spanish. Prerequisite: Spanish III and/or placement testing.
  • SPANISH IV HONORS

    Term: Full year
    Spanish IV Honors is designed to continue the development of functional proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing the language. It exposes students to the literary use of Spanish, increasing their literal and critical reading skills and enhancing their knowledge of the cultural diversity of the Spanish-speaking world. The course aims to improve the students’ speaking ability, systematically review grammar previously studied, and master—orally and in writing—new and more complex grammar concepts. The course is designed for students who are motivated to continue intensive study of the language in college and/or in preparation for the Advanced Placement examination. Prerequisite: Spanish III Honors and teacher recommendation.
  • SPANISH V

    Term: Full year
    This course aims to build on previous years of language study and increase proficiency in the four language skills: listening, reading, speaking and writing. The focus of this course is on conversation (listening and speaking), expanding vocabulary, and honing proper reading and writing skills, in addition to undertaking a comprehensive review of grammar. The course seeks to amplify the students’ perspective on history, politics, and cultural and environmental events of the Spanish-speaking world through the study of literature, cinema, and current events. Prerequisite: Spanish IV and/or placement testing.
  • SPANISH V HONORS

    Term: Full year
    This course aims to build on previous years of language studyand increase proficiency in the four language skills: listening, reading, speaking and writing. The focus of this course is on conversation (listening and speaking), expanding vocabulary,and honing proper reading and writing skills. The course seeksto amplify the students’ perspective on history, politics, cultureand environmental events of the Spanish-speaking worldthrough the study of literature, cinema, and current events. Prerequisite: Spanish IV and/or placement testing.
  • SPANISH VI HONORS

    Term: Full year
    The objective of Spanish VI Honors is to prepare students for the Spanish Literature AP Exam. As such, students adhere to the prescribed curriculum for the exam. Throughout the course of the academic year, they read selected works of those writers of prose and poetry in Spanish who have achieved renown not only in the Spanish-speaking world, but in the international arena as well. From 1492 to the Siglo de Oro and the Generación de ’98 to the renowned writers of the 20th century, students read and examine the oeuvres of those masters of Spanish prose and poetry who have contributed most significantly to Spanish letters. The works of Miguel de Cervantes, Tirso de Molina, Francisco de Quevedo, Luis de Gongora, Garcilaso de la Vega (Spain), Juana Asbaje, Hernán Cortés, Álvar Núñez de Cabeza de Vaca, José Martí, Ruben Dario, Antonio Machado, Federico García Lorca, Pablo Neruda, Gabriel García Márquez, Carlos Fuentes, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, and Isabel Allende constitute the core curriculum of this course. Prerequisite: Spanish V Honors.

Language Office

List of 9 members.

  • Gis-Ximena Nahmens 

    Chair of the Languages Department
    Universidad Catolica Andres Bello - B.A.
    Rochester Institute of Technology - M.S.
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  • Emily Balaban-Garber 

    Bowdoin College - B.A.
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  • Annabelle Hicks 

    Colby College - B.A.
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  • Anna McCarthy 

    International Student Coordinator
    St. Petersburg State University - B.A.
    St. Petersburg State University - M.A.
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  • Naomi Noyes 

    University of North Carolina Asheville - B.A.
    Middlebury College - M.A.*
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  • Erika Picciotto-Zanussi 

    University of Michigan - B.A.
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  • Yasameen Salehi 

    Mt. Holyoke College - B.A.
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  • Demetrius Toutounas 

    Syracuse University - B.A.
    New York University - M.A.
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  • Andrew Yuan 

    Grinnell College - B.A.
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Suffield Academy   185 North Main Street   Suffield, Connecticut 06078   Phone 860.386.4400  |  Fax 860.386.4411