Philosophy for the Teaching of Classical and Modern Languages

In the teaching of  languages, the teachers in the Classical and Modern Language Department are committed to the belief that all students can and should become proficient in a second language. To enable students to gain as great a degree of proficiency as possible all modes of communication, we present our materials in as many differing ways and from as many different perspectives as possible. We therefore avoid at the beginning stages of instruction ability grouping of our students and embrace the tenets of differentiated instruction in order to maximize the opportunities that our students have in their learning. We are committed to assisting all students in any and all ways possible to gain maximum benefit from their work with us both within and without the classroom.

We use the target language in all instruction, even at the most elementary levels, as the principal, and eventually sole means of teacher and student communication. Our goal is to present the language in as natural and native a format as possible, encouraging our students to learn much the same way they learned their first language. At the beginning stages of language instruction, we employ such methods as TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading & Storytelling), pictures, basic synonyms, and the like. With our more advanced students, we encourage reading for meaning in context to decipher unknown vocabulary, as well as target-language-to-target-language definitions.

In the grammar arena, we strive to embed grammatical structures within meaningful contexts. Research has consistently pointed out the limited applicability of formal grammatical vocabulary as well as the futility in trying to impart such structures to the vast majority of students.

Our goal is not perfection, but accurate communication. Our assessment system, all in rubrics that communicate the quality of our students’ achievement and not the quantity, speaks further to this purpose. Our dedication to maximizing our students’ learning is uncompromised and uncompromisable. To this end we shall be ever searching to discuss, to learn, to experiment, to implement, and to challenge both our own thinking and that of our students.


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