Curriculum in the Upper School

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Novice Chinese

Novice Chinese is an introduction to the study of Mandarin Chinese and Chinese culture. The classroom experience is grounded in the four communicative skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. The three modes of communication- interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational- provide the organizing principle for the course content. Students become acquainted with the sound of the language, the radical and the etymology of the characters. Students become familiar with some elements of Chinese culture including family structure, society, and some major festivals. This foundation course is taught using Simplified characters. A general introduction to cultural practices such as food, games, songs and festival traditions, is included throughout the course. The goal of Novice Chinese is to progress from the Novice Low to Novice Mid level, as specified by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) proficiency guidelines.

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Novice Mid Chinese

The goal of Novice Mid Chinese is to progress to the Novice Mid level, as specified by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) proficiency guidelines. The classroom experience is grounded in the four communicative skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. The three modes of communication-interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational- provide the organizing principle for the course content. This class also aims to solidify students’ background in character writing and memorization along with building up Chinese vocabulary. Students continue to learn how to talk about themselves and their community and to request and provide information by asking and answering practiced and original questions.

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Novice High Chinese

The goal of Novice High Chinese is to progress from the Novice Mid to the Novice High level, as specified by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) proficiency guidelines. The classroom experience is grounded in the four communicative skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. The three modes of communication- interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational- provide the organizing principle for the course content. Students learn to complement their language skills with basic conjunctions and measure words in writing stories and speaking. AP Chinese Language and Culture exam format is also introduced in the spring semester. Students develop a better understanding of the culture, its products (eg. literature, foods, games), perspectives (eg. attitudes, values), and practices (patterns of social interaction, festival traditions) throughout the course.

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Intermediate Low Chinese

The goal of Intermediate Low Chinese is to progress from the Novice High to the Intermediate Low level, as specified by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) proficiency guidelines. The classroom experience is grounded in the four communicative skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. The three modes of communication- interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational- provide the organizing principle for the course content. At the Intermediate Low proficiency level, students can participate in conversations on a number of familiar topics using simple sentences. They can handle short social interactions in everyday situations by asking and answering simple questions. In the interpretive mode, students can understand the main idea of short and simple texts when the topic is familiar. They can present information on most familiar topics using a series of simple sentences. The class is conducted increasingly in Chinese, and the students produce more unrehearsed stories and short essays in class.

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Intermediate Mid Chinese

The goal of Intermediate Mid Chinese is to progress from the Intermediate Low to the Intermediate Mid level, as specified by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) proficiency guidelines. The classroom experience is grounded in the four communicative skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. With guided practice in the interpretive, presentational, and interpersonal modes, paired with a base of more advanced grammar and richer vocabulary, students work toward greater proficiency and more independent learning of Chinese. Intermediate Mid Chinese will continue with the skills developed in Intermediate Low with an increased focus on developing and refining grammatical functions, idioms and expressions. Students learn to understand the main idea and some information from authentic texts, participate in spoken and written conversations, and communicate information on familiar topics using increasingly nuanced sentences. Students also learn to compare their cultural practices to those of the Chinese-speaking world and to interact appropriately within cultural and social contexts. The class is taught almost exclusively in Mandarin Chinese and students are expected to use the target language at all times.

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Intermediate High Chinese

The goal of Intermediate High Chinese is to progress from the Intermediate Low and/or Mid to the Intermediate High level, as specified by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) proficiency guidelines. Students work on their Interpretive, Interpersonal, and Presentational communication. Students solidify the skills of Intermediate levels with an emphasis on oral proficiency. At this level, students improve their ability to ask questions, ask for clarification, self-correct when not understood and use circumlocution. Students identify and employ culturally appropriate vocabulary, expressions, and gestures. Furthermore, they understand that differences exist in cultural behaviors and perspectives and respond appropriately. To achieve this, students gain knowledge on a variety of cultural topics from Chinese spoken regions and countries. As Intermediate High Chinese is a Pre-AP class, these topics include some of the AP themes. Students also improve their impromptu writing skills and they practice how to incorporate short, long and complex sentences using a variety of aspects and structures. The class is taught exclusively in Mandarin Chinese, using authentic materials, and students are expected to use the target language at all times.

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AP Chinese Language and Cultures

AP Chinese is a full-year course that covers the equivalent of the fourth semester of a college Chinese course. Coursework provides students with opportunities to perform Intermediate- to Advanced-level tasks, and students are expected to achieve proficiencies throughout, and sometimes beyond, the Intermediate range, as described in the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) proficiency guidelines. The course is designed to provide students with varied opportunities to further develop their proficiency across the three communicative modes: interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational. It also addresses the five goal areas of communication, culture, connections, comparisons, and communities as outlined in the National Standards for Foreign Language Education. During their engagement with language produced by others in the Interpersonal and Interpretive modes, students develop strategic and metacognitive competencies, such as inferring the meaning of words from context, using grammatical knowledge to aid comprehension, and applying their cultural knowledge in comprehending written texts and spoken messages. Throughout their language production in the Interpersonal and Presentational modes, students increasingly employ linguistically accurate Chinese. They continue to develop sociocultural competencies and practical strategies that strengthen their ability to communicate effectively and appropriately in a variety of social and cultural contexts encountered in daily life. Its aim is to provide students with ongoing and varied opportunities to further develop their proficiencies across the full range of language skills within a cultural frame of reference reflective of the richness of Chinese language and culture. AP Chinese Language and Culture teachers plan and implement a course that focuses on language proficiency while interweaving level- and age- appropriate cultural content throughout the course and providing for the frequent formative assessment of students’ developing proficiencies within the context of their learning. Instructional materials and activities are carefully and strategically adapted from authentic sources to support the linguistic and cultural goals of the course. Intensive reading and writing, as well as integrated listening and speaking skills, are expected. The course engages students in an exploration of both contemporary and historical Chinese culture. Students will be able to apply their growing linguistic and cultural knowledge to communicative tasks in real-life contexts.

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Chinese for Heritage Learners and Advanced Topics: Diversity and Us

Chinese for Heritage Learners and Advanced Topics is a year-long course designed for students who have been raised in homes where Mandarin Chinese is spoken as the primary language, who can also read and write at the Intermediate Low level. This class aims at deepening the learners' knowledge of reading and writing in formal contexts, as well as opening their eyes to different dialects and cultural representations that vary by Chinese-speaking regions and countries. Class materials that cover Chinese American history and selected literature in Chinese will be adopted to the heritage speakers’ language and identity backgrounds. Class components will include character memorization, school buddy partnership with other Chinese programs, identity creative writing projects, and more. Students will engage in discussion on topics focused on diversity and justice in the U.S.

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Chinese for Heritage Learners and Advanced Topics: Justice and Us

Chinese for Heritage Learners and Advanced Topics is a year-long course designed for students who have been raised in homes where Mandarin Chinese is spoken as the primary language, who can also read and write at the Intermediate Low level. This class aims at deepening the learners' knowledge of reading and writing in formal contexts, as well as opening their eyes to different dialects and cultural representations that vary by Chinese-speaking regions and countries. Every year a unique version of this class is offered therefore students may take more than one year of C.H.A.T. The 2022-23 version of “Chinese for Heritage Learners and Advanced Topics” focuses on the theme of “Justice and Us,” which covers critical issues including Chinese American immigration history, identity exploration, and social injustice that are relevant to Asian American communities and around the world. Class materials will be adopted to the heritage speakers’ language and identity backgrounds.