• B Day

A College-Prep, Independent Day
School for Grades 8-12

World and Classical Languages

World Languages

York’s World Language Program employs a conversational and immersive approach that focuses on achieving communication skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Classes are taught in the target language, as much as possible, from the very beginning of the first semester. The goal is to acquire the ability to speak, be understood, and comprehend the target language. In addition, being exposed to a new culture helps develop an awareness and appreciation of the richness of other cultures. All language programs integrate interactive video and audio materials with workbooks and textbooks that combine oral and written exercises. The focus is on development of communicative competency and linguistic proficiency. Course offerings include French, Mandarin Chinese, and Spanish.


French I, II, III, and III Honors
The first three years of French are all taught via the methodology of French in Action, a well-integrated program of fifty-two dvds, mp3, two texts (which reprise the video dialogs and contain cultural reading), and two workbooks (containing written and oral / aural exercises). As the title suggests, students experience the language in action: the language is presented in the immediate and authentic framework of a soap opera, where the episodes are structured around authentic and very useful thematic vocabulary. In that proficiency in French is the expected outcome, instruction is almost exclusively in French from the very beginning, and translation is neither relied upon nor tested. There is purposeful redundancy both among the episodes of this cyclical program and between visual and aural cues in order to address different learning styles and to make the use of English unnecessary.

French IV and YAS French IV 
Students review and perfect grammatical concepts, read literary texts of varying genres, lengths, and difficulty, such as Le Petit Prince, l’Etranger, Voltaire, Baudelaire, Maupassant, and Sartre, listen to a large variety of music, including opera, and watch films. In addition to  textual interpretation, there is increased emphasis placed on lengthy writing, particularly creative writing,  as well the shorter “situations active” that come after the grammar lessons. Students make frequent five-minute oral presentations and also teach sections of the novels they read.

French V 
French V is designed for students who have already completed the Advanced Placement exam. Its content varies with the students who are enrolled, and consists of studying French slang, movies, literature, and music. Conversation is emphasized and there are frequent writing assignments on the texts read and studied.

Mandarin Chinese

Chinese I, II, and III
Chinese I, II, and III are all taught via Integrated Chinese, a balanced program that integrates Chinese written and spoken styles, traditional and simplified characters, and teaching approaches designed to maximize learning. The program covers topics from everyday life and gradually moves to more abstract subject matter. Students build a solid grammatical foundation and prepare to function in a Chinese language environment with communication exercises. Students learn to converse in Chinese on a wide range of topics, read articles from newspapers, magazines, and literary works, and write at paragraph level (by hand and by computer).

Chinese III Honors
The students in Chinese III Honors are required to read monthly supplementary materials, complete a written assignment related to the reading material, and present it orally to the class. They must master 450 characters, which make up 650 new words. The grading standards for students in Chinese III Honors in listening, speaking, reading comprehension, writing composition, and assessment are higher than the regular class.

Chinese IV
Students develop the five language skills of aurally understanding, speaking, reading, writing, and computer communication from an intermediate level to an advanced level. New sentence structures and many important words and phrases are introduced, expanding student vocabulary from 1,500 to 2,300 words. They learn stronger aural-oral skills to carry out conversations on diverse topics with a wide range of vocabulary and culture appropriateness, and develop reading skills to comprehend authentic materials. Students are required to produce paragraph-level Chinese with accuracy and fluency.

YAS Chinese IV 
Increasing sophistication of style, usage, and language is developed in this class. Students will expand their vocabulary from 1,500 to 2,800 words. Rigorous practice of spoken and written Chinese in complex activities will be conducted; the students will also do intensive reading of expository writing on many cultural topics.

Chinese V
Students who are qualified and interested in extending their study of Chinese beyond Chinese IV should speak with Chinese teacher or Academic Dean.


Spanish I
Adelante I, a user-friendly multi-media program with interactive online and audiovisual components, is used for this class. Students learn by putting language into practice in dynamic, communicative situations facilitated by the teacher to maximize the time spent speaking Spanish. By year end, students can express themselves on a variety of topics, including the family, classes and school life, their pastimes, and their vacations. They will also be able to perform the basic interactions required when traveling, such as negotiating a price, making a purchase, and reserving a hotel room.

Spanish II
In Spanish II students continue with Adelante II, talking about a broad variety of topics: daily routines, time, food, parties and celebrations, personal relationships, health, personal hygiene, technology, and house chores. They learn about the culture of Peru, Guatemala, Chile, Argentina, Costa Rica, and Panama. Students write about past events, make comparisons, and give and receive formal and informal commands. They also learn to use more advanced verb tenses and complex grammar structures, such as the subjunctive mood and double object pronouns, in order to communicate effectively in more complex, nuanced situations.

Spanish III and III Honors
Students practice more sophisticated communication and work intensively on the subjunctive mood, which allows them to express complex opinions on a range of topics relevant to the contemporary Spanish-speaking world. Those topics include nature and the environment, city life, health and wellbeing, the workplace, the arts, current events and politics, and the media. Students are encouraged to explore authentic Spanish language media sources and film culture, and to begin reading both peninsular and Latin American poetry and narrative. Authors featured include Federico García Lorca, Miguel de Cervantes, Carmen Laforet, and Gabriel García Márquez. Each component of this class promotes autonomy, as students reach new levels of comfort with debating, writing, and engaging with a wide range of sources in Spanish

Spanish IV and YAS Spanish IV 
The Spanish IV / IV YAS features advanced composition and conversation, encompassing aural/oral skills, reading comprehension, grammar, and composition. It emphasizes the use of Spanish for active communication to

  • increase the ability to comprehend formal and informal spoken Spanish;
  • acquire the vocabulary and grasp of structure needed to facilitate easy, accurate reading of newspaper and magazine articles, as well as of modern literature in Spanish;
  • develop the ability to compose expository passages;
  • learn to express ideas orally with accuracy and fluency.
The course seeks to develop language skills that are useful in themselves and that can be applied to various activities and disciplines rather than to the mastery of any specific subject matter. Students are expected to review daily, read Spanish papers, and watch or listen to Spanish broadcasts, participate as often as they can, and listen attentively when other students are participating. Students are also encouraged to use their Spanish as often as they can and to talk to the teacher in Spanish in and out of class.

Classical Languages

York believes the study of ancient languages helps students build literacy in modern languages. Because Latin is the foundation of English, Latin is required for one year in the 9th grade, after which students may continue through their senior year. Ancient Greek is offered as an elective.


Latin I
The Cambridge Latin Series brings students quickly to the point where they can read Latin with confidence and gain some insight into life in the early Roman Empire by participating in the daily lives of the Caecilius family. Exercises of various types reinforce grammar and vocabulary, strengthening vocabulary skills in English through the study of derivatives and cognates. All four-language skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) are reinforced. Cultural themes include the family, the treatment of slaves, education, the baths, hospitality, and the city of Pompeii in 79 BCE.

Latin II
Latin II is a continuation of the Cambridge Latin Series. New linguistic material is introduced as well as new vocabulary, morphology, idiom, structure, and syntax. The story shifts to Britain and then to Rome during the reign of Domitian. The class also builds upon its basic framework of Roman culture by studying government, religion, treatment of provincials, et al. Towards the end of the year, students begin to translate some unmodified passages from Classical Latin authors.

Latin III
Latin III explores Latin literature from early comedy to the early empire, presenting a number of genres and vivid images of both men and women of Roman history and poetic imagination. The Roman political, social, moral, and philosophical ideals in these works have been touchstones against which generations have tested themselves since antiquity. Students are challenged to think critically about the past and to reflect on their own values and their relations to others. Selections from Ovid and Martial provide an excellent introduction to the reading of Latin poetry with attention to metrics and the artifices of style. To receive a more personal glimpse into Roman life, students also read letters, essays, histories, etc. by such authors as Pliny, Cicero, and Livy.

YAS Latin IV
This course presents an in-depth study of one of the great classics of western civilization, the Aeneid of Vergil. Discussion of the poem’s major themes and study of its poetic techniques add depth to translating of the Latin verse. Linguistic accuracy, speed, and comprehension, together with facility in communication of ideas in critical analysis, will be expected. Students develop the ability to analyze the Aeneid’s content -- what Vergil says; style -- how Vergil says it; and interpretation -- what Vergil means (or what scholars say he means). This course also helps advanced students to gain new insights into linguistics and to improve their development in English.

Latin V
Those students who would like to extend their study of Latin after completion of Latin IV should make their interest known to Mr. Brady and the Academic Dean.


Greek I and II - A Reading Course in Homeric Greek
The aim of this course is to enable the student to read Homer in the original with understanding and a real sense of satisfaction. The course seeks to clarify both the interest and the special educative value of Greek to the beginning student. As literary background to other authors, and as a vivid introduction to what poetry really is, Homer has particular importance in the process of education.

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