Classical & Modern Languages
Language shapes the way humans perceive, think, and communicate. Studying another language provides an opportunity to experience a different mode of thought from one’s native language, to make forays into and connections across the barriers of language, culture, and time. Language study is a critical tool in helping students understand themselves as well as their roles and responsibilities in a global society.
The study of language and culture offers a window into ourselves and the wider world around us. Through language we delve into questions of identity, history and contemporary challenges. Hotchkiss offers a robust for-credit program in two classical languages -- Latin and Greek -- and four modern languages -- Chinese, French, German, and Spanish.
In addition to its academic program, our department supports our students’ discovery of language and culture by offering numerous travel opportunities and programming through its Language & Culture Center.
“Why study Classics?” There are likely as many answers to this question as there are people who study Latin and Greek, which is also to say that there is something in the study of the Classics for everyone. We may teach the ancient Latin and Greek languages, but in our classrooms we also study ancient history, art, architecture, politics, religion, philosophy, archeology, and more—Classics is a fully interdisciplinary pursuit. Our broad goal is to get our students reading original Latin and Greek texts as early as possible in their studies, while giving them some familiarity with the important achievements and contributions of the Greeks and Romans. Students will read original authors like Caesar and Plato in the second year of language study, but also study ancient cultures and their significance for us in the twenty first century.
Students at Hotchkiss who find great enjoyment in Latin or Greek often pursue the Classics Diploma, the only special diploma offered by the school. Students who complete the equivalent of six years in Latin and Greek are eligible for the diploma.
Modern language courses are designed to help students achieve proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing while exploring diverse aspects of the represented cultures. By deepening our students’ appreciation of the role culture plays in shaping our response to the world around us, we help them develop empathy for the complexities inherent in each individual’s and community’s experience.
Upper-level courses emphasize the study of literature as an art and a lens into history and contemporary society. Students are encouraged to read closely and to interpret texts in both analytical and creative ways.
The Language Department strongly encourages its students to avail themselves of opportunities to immerse themselves in the languages and cultures they study in the classroom. Through the School Year Abroad program, some students may be eligible to complete one of their last two years in Beijing, China; Rennes, France; Viterbo, Italy; or Zaragoza, Spain. Faculty members frequently design spring break or summer trips to complement students’ study here in Lakeville. In recent years, faculty have organized language and culture trips to French-speaking Canada, France, Morocco, Senegal, Germany, China, Cuba, Spain, Italy and Greece.
- 60 iPads specifically designated for use in the Foreign Language classroom
- The Confucius Classroom, which includes apps and special resources for learning Chinese
- Language & Culture Center
- Language tables and clubs to encourage fluency outside of the classroom
- Travel programs that provide opportunities for immersive language learning around the world
Language & Culture Center (LCC)
In celebration of the community’s linguistic and cultural diversity, the ‘West Side’ of the LCC is designed to welcome any and all community members who wish to practice their nascent foreign language skills or bask in their native tongue, as the case may be. Foreign language magazines, board games, comfortable seating and an Apple TV for watching foreign language movies, sports with foreign language commentary, and internationally reported current events are available to all. In addition, our language and culture clubs occasionally reserve the space in the evening for conversation, music, games, and movie-viewing in the target language.
The ‘East Side’ is a multi-purpose room where language and culture clubs are welcome to host regular meetings and events without necessarily committing to linguistic immersion. One-on-one and drop-in language peer tutoring takes place in this space, and two desktop computers equipped with web-based and non web-based programs are available for students who may wish to study languages not offered by the department on an independent/co-curricular basis.