World LanguagesMrs. Lisa Hernandez, Head of Department
The Cistercian World Languages Department commits itself to educating students to be linguistically and culturally proficient in world languages. The students are prepared for college and exceed the introductory level collegiate requirements. This includes fostering sensitivity to and an awareness of other cultures in order to communicate successfully in a pluralistic American society and abroad. Our department commits itself principally to whole language acquisition, promoting understanding of culture and language.
The Foreign Language program in the Middle School complements the Language Arts curriculum by introducing the students to Latin. Latin has been chosen as the required foreign language throughout the Middle School for several reasons. First, the study of Latin helps the students see how a text’s grammatical structure yields its meaning. The study of Latin also expands, deepens, and reinforces their English vocabulary. Furthermore, it serves as an effective introduction to the study of any inflected language, particularly the modern European languages offered in the Upper School. Finally, the study of Latin opens up to the students the cultural wealth of Western civilization from ancient Rome through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
Basing itself on the results of four years of Latin in the Middle School, the Foreign Language program in the Upper School provides the opportunity for the students to learn one of two major modern languages of the West—Spanish or French. From a utilitarian standpoint, Spanish introduces students to the language and the culture of our neighbors to the south, as well as to the vibrant Hispanic heritage present in this country. While Spanish is the foreign language most-widely spoken in Texas and most-often studied in the United States, French remains the second most frequently taught after Spanish. French culture and language are studied in the context of the various 43 French speaking countries; Spanish culture and language are studied in the context of the various 19 Spanish speaking countries. French is the language spoken by our largest trading partner, Canada. In fact, France’s economy is the 5th largest in the world. In the foreign language courses, along with work in grammar and vocabulary, there is regular practice in oral and written expression. In the first two years students learn basic vocabulary and grammatical forms. In Form VII, the study of culture, history, and literature enriches the students’ continued practice in writing and conversation. In Form VIII, students have the option of taking a seminar class in French and Spanish. The seminar course focuses on building fluency in writing, listening, and conversation.