Hopkinton Public Schools believe that the fundamental purposes of world language instruction are to enable students to communicate in the studied language, to explore other cultures, and to gain insight into the behavior of other peoples.
We advocate a proficiency-based instructional approach to the learning of world languages. We want our students to be able to use the language they study, and we provide them with the opportunity to demonstrate their acquired skill level at the end of their language sequence. Students who take our entire sequence of language offerings (7-12) in French and/or Spanish can expect to reach Intermediate Mid to Intermediate High proficiency in reading, writing, speaking and listening on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language proficiency scale (ACTFL Scale). Some exceptional students will reach advanced levels in one or all skills tested.
Starting with the graduating class of 2019, seniors who score Intermediate High or above in reading, writing, speaking and listening on the national AAPPL exam (AAPPL Description), given as the midterm exam senior year in French and Spanish classes, will earn the Massachusetts Seal of Biliteracy, provided that they also have an English MCAS score of 240 or above. Those students who score Advanced in all categories will receive the state Seal of Biliteracy with Distinction, provided they also have an English MCAS score of 260 or above. These awards will be presented in the form of a Seal on the student’s diploma and the award will also be noted on the student’s transcript. The granting of the Seal of Biliteracy is Massachusetts’ official recognition of students who are literate in two languages or more.
The Seal award is not yet available in Mandarin Chinese because four years of language study is not sufficient to reach intermediate high proficiency levels. It may become available in the future when students who began studying Mandarin in the seventh grade become seniors.
Expand your world: Learn another language
Proficiency in another language does not mean speaking that language perfectly. Proficiency is the ability to use a language spontaneously in real-world situations. Proficient communicators can understand and be understood by speakers of the studied language. There are many levels of proficiency, from Novice to Distinguished.
In Hopkinton, students who begin studying a language in 7th grade and continue through 12th grade should reach an Intermediate level of proficiency. Some will even attain Advanced proficiency. See graphic below from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages for descriptions of the proficiency levels.
- Chinese is the most spoken language in the world.
- Chinese is a designated “critical” language. English speakers of Mandarin are in very high demand--so much so, that our government has created a program designed to produce a million English speakers of Mandarin before 2020 (US, China STRONG).
- China has one of the world’s fastest growing economies, making the knowledge of Mandarin an asset for future business leaders.
- Chinese is a Category 5 language, meaning that it will take up to 4 times longer to learn than French or Spanish (FSI Categories).
- You must learn to read and write many Chinese characters. This takes hand/eye coordination and much practice. (Chinese Characters)
- Chinese is a tonal language. Correct pronunciation is very important (Perfect Pitch)
- More: Why Learn Chinese?
- France is the number one tourist destination in the world.
- French is second only to English as a second language choice. It is the sole official language of 13 countries and the co-official in 16 countries.
- French is the language of our largest trading partner, Canada.
- French is a very useful business language in the medical, space and technology fields.
- French shares more cognates with English than any other language according to many sources.
- French is a Category 1 language, meaning it’s one of the easiest to learn for speakers of English (FSI Categories).
- French pronunciation and spelling can be difficult for some because there are many silent letters in French.
- Advanced French grammar can be difficult, but many argue it is not as difficult as Spanish.
- Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world and in the USA. The USA has the second largest Spanish speaking population in the world.
- Over 13% of families in the United States speak Spanish at home (2014 Census), making Spanish speaking consumers our fastest growing target group for businesses in the United States. This number is projected to grow to 25% by 2050.
- Spanish is the official language of 21 countries.
- Spanish is a Category 1 language, meaning it’s one of the easiest to learn for speakers of English (FSI Categories).
- Advanced Spanish grammar can be difficult; many argue more difficult than French.
- Spanish pronunciation and spelling is phonetic, making it one of the easiest languages to spell and to pronounce.
More: Why Learn Spanish?