Language Department Mission

The Language Department encourages each student to discover and develop her unique strengths as she gains mastery of a new language and explores a new culture. 
"When we study another language and learn about another culture, we have the opportunity to reinvent ourselves." Video by Alexa Green '09.

Language Courses

List of 17 items.

  • French I

    In this introductory course, students become familiar with basic grammatical patterns, vocabulary, and structures. They learn to comprehend, read, and write paragraphs in French. Through direct questions and answers, games, and class discussions, students also develop strong conversational skills. Throughout the year, students learn to talk about family, food, hobbies, clothes, school life, travel plans, and culinary tastes, among other things. In addition, they discover various aspects of French culture through discussions and articles. Overall, they acquire a solid foundation for any future study of French.
    (1 credit; full year)
  • French II

    This course builds upon the foundations of French I with further emphasis on oral work and improvement of writing skills. Students acquire significant vocabulary, study new tenses, and learn to write more complex sentences. In addition, they have the opportunity to enhance their conversational skills on a daily basis through real-life conversations, role plays, and games. They also start to read and analyze literary excerpts, newspaper articles, and short stories from Le Petit Nicolas by René Goscinny, through which they discover many cultural facts about France and the francophone world.
    (1 credit; full year)
  • French III

    The goals of this course are to develop writing, reading, and conversational skills while studying the refinements of grammar, style, and pronunciation. Throughout the year, there is a great emphasis on speaking and listening activities through everyday conversations along with thorough grammar and vocabulary activities. Students also continue to discover and discuss elements of French society and francophone cultures on a regular basis, and consequently, develop their logical and critical thinking. Finally, students progressively move from excerpted literature to the novel Le Petit Prince.
    (1 credit; full year)
  • French IV

    This course is designed to increase oral and written proficiency, provide an introduction to the study of French literature, and promote the development of a critical sensibility. There is still a great emphasis on grammar and vocabulary acquisition, as students enhance their knowledge and learn new concepts. They improve their speaking and listening activities through daily, real-life conversations and many peer activities. Students also read and analyze many literature excerpts throughout the year and one novel per semester: L'étranger by Camus and  Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme by Molière.
    (1 credit; full year)
  • French - Advanced Placement

    This course is designed to increase oral and written proficiency, provide an introduction to the study of French literature, and promote the development of a critical sensibility. There is still a great emphasis on grammar and vocabulary acquisition as students enhance their knowledge and learn new concepts. They improve their speaking and listening skills through daily, real-life conversations, and many peer activities. Students also read and analyze many literature excerpts throughout the year in addition to one novel per semester: L'étranger by Camus and Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme by Molière.
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Spanish I

    The objectives of this course are to introduce students to the Spanish language, literature, and culture, and to acquaint them with extensive, practical vocabulary and the present, simple past, and near future verb tenses. Students learn to carry on simple conversations, to answer questions, to read short poems and stories, and to write and understand basic conversational Spanish. Students listen to recorded materials and watch short videos related to class themes. At the end of the year, each student writes and presents a story book for children.
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Spanish II

    In Spanish II, students continue to develop and improve listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. Emphasis is placed on the comprehension of spoken Spanish; a variety of activities incorporate vocabulary and grammar structures. Students are introduced to culture and literature through the use of media and adapted readings. Each student improves her conversational skills through class conversations, oral presentations, film, and listening comprehension exercises with audio recordings. Emphasis is placed on increasing a student’s knowledge of vocabulary and on enhancing her speaking skills. Another important aspect of this course is to develop intermediate-level reading and writing skills. The students study verb tenses such as the imperfect, the future, and conditional. Frequent, daily class participation is expected to build confidence in speaking and comprehension.
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Spanish III

    The objectives of this course are to develop and improve four important skills of a language: speaking, writing, listening, and reading. Advanced grammar concepts are taught, reinforcing the skills developed in Spanish I and II. Students make oral presentations on world news, Spanish culture, geography and history, and topics which they choose to research. Written exercises and short essays help them to improve their writing. Students listen to CDs and watch selected films about Spanish culture. Literature is introduced; students read and discuss short pieces and memorize poems. 
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Spanish IV

    Students continue to develop their skills in the use of grammar, speaking, writing and understanding Spanish while deepening their understanding of the culture and context of the Spanish language. This course offers an interesting and challenging study of modern Hispanic literature with selections that include many of the best Spanish and Latin American writers: Isabel Allende, Jorge Luis Borges, Laura Esquivel, Gabriel García Márquez, and others.  These readings enhance the acquisition of vocabulary and present topics that
    stimulate students to express themselves. The course includes an intensive study and review of advanced grammar with exercises that provide practice in all areas. Students are expected to speak and understand the language well enough to use it exclusively in class. Class participation, simulated conversations, and written and oral presentations are core components of the class.
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Spanish V

    In this full-year course, students will read Julia Alvarez’s How the García Girls Lost their Accent. This exciting novel presents the different stories of three sisters and their parents before and after they move to the United States from their beloved country, the Dominican Republic, during the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. One of the main themes of this novel is the struggle of living between two cultures. Our study gives students the opportunity to discuss cultural differences not only in the text but in their own lives. Additionally, we review advanced grammar and vocabulary. Students will make frequent oral presentations and will write weekly topical essays. Because the class is conducted entirely in Spanish, students are expected to participate actively in order to enhance their proficiency in all areas of the language.
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Latin I

    This is an introductory course designed for the beginning student. The syllabus is based on the Cambridge Latin Course, which carries two main objectives: 1. To teach comprehension of the Latin language through practice in reading it. 2. To develop students’ understanding of the social and political history of the Romans, particularly during the first century A.D. The story line begins in Pompeii and follows the life of Caecilius, a successful businessman. As Unit I draws to an end, the students learn about the fate of Pompeii with the eruption of
    Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Unit II brings us to Roman Britain and Alexandria, which simultaneously expands the students’ cultural knowledge as well as provides a platform for honing their translation skills. In addition to completing Units I & II of the Cambridge system, students will use additional materials to further their study of Roman culture and mythology.
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Latin II

    The students in Latin II continue with the Cambridge Latin series, which employs the inductive method of learning Latin. In this reading method, students not only gain proficiency in reading Latin passages but also acquire a considerable amount of cultural information. Unit III finds us in Roman Britain in the year 83 A.D., and we continue to follow Quintus, a young man from Pompeii, whom we first met in Unit I. The story line involves military exploits and political struggles, with tales of loyalty and treachery that tie in well with background readings on myriad cultural topics and historical events. More complex grammatical constructions are also introduced in Unit III,
    and students are well on their way to making the transition from reading stories to unaltered Latin texts. The study of mythology in Latin II focuses on the hero paradigm. After studying the major Greek heroes, students present, in the second semester, a modern reincarnation of the hero from a movie, television series, or book of their choice.
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Latin III

    Unit IV of the Cambridge Latin Course brings us back to Rome in the year 83 A.D., and we see the continuous storyline, which began in Unit I, come to a dramatic close. Students are now poised to make the transition from stories to literature and do so by reading and analyzing selections from various authors, including Pliny, Catullus, Vergil, Ovid, Tacitus, Martial, and Cicero. The study of mythology in Latin III focuses on Greek drama. Students read five of the most important and influential dramas of classical Athens, including Oedipus Rex, Medea, and the Oresteia.
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Latin IV - Nature and the Environment

    One of the most critical issues that humanity faces today is that of climate change. Humans’ views of nature and interaction with the environment have become the topic of a world -wide dialogue. The ancient Romans also concerned themselves with these questions. The poets Lucretius and Vergil and the natural historians Seneca and Pliny evoke a fascination with the natural world and the place of human beings within it. Our readings from these four authors will allow us to consider the current discussions about the environment in light of the Romans’ own study of nature, from how to care for bees and crops to natural disasters; from the importance of water to botany and pharmacological remedies.
    (1/2 credit; second semester)
  • Latin IV: The Myths of Rome

    This one-semester course will examine the stories that Romans of the early Empire told about the origins, peoples, and gods of early Rome. We begin with Livy’s history of Rome, ab urbe condita, which recounts the myths surrounding Rome’s early beginnings, including its founding. From Livy we move to Propertius, who, though wellknown  for his love elegies, moves into the realm of myth at the end of  his career, retelling many stories of early Rome. Finally, we read Ovid, who wrote two masterpieces during the Augustan period, Fasti and Metamorphoses, the former full of myths of early Rome, and the later incorporating Julius Caesar and Augustus into the world of myth. Throughout, we will ask what the difference between history and myth was for the Romans and what it is for us today.
    (1/2 credit; first semester)
  • Latin IV: Roman Religion

    Roman religion was not just a single religion but encompassed a vast collection of gods and deities from all corners of the Roman Empire. The Romans themselves discussed the nature and meaning of their religious practices, such as divination, and questioned the value of religion itself. We will read a wide range of thinkers on these topics, from philosophical works to poetry from religious festivals to comedies and novels. Our study of this polytheistic world will provide us with a comparative viewpoint from which to look at the role of religion in the world today.
    (1/2 credit; second semester)
  • Chinese Language and Culture

    This is a beginning course in Mandarin Chinese. The students learn all the elements of the language, memorizing over 300 characters and learning the pronunciation and tone for each word. Students participate numerous times a day as they work together on projects and dialogues. The class uses various games to empower students to speak Chinese and have fun communicating with each other. Students will be able to introduce themselves, their friends, and family members. They will also learn to discuss their hobbies, school, dates, time, and food. The class combines language learning with exploration of the culture. The students are exposed to music, food, ancient games, historical events, holidays, and traditions as well as current topics impacting China and Chinese speaking countries. The class will view several movies that depict females as concubines or as young girls with bound feet in the past, as martial artists, and as modern women in Shanghai. By combining the study of language and culture, the students gain an understanding of an important part of the global community.
    Grade Level: 10-12
    (1 credit; full year)

English as a Second Language

List of 3 items.

  • English as a Second Language

    Small in size, this class is designed to provide intensive support for the international student whose English language skills need strengthening. Great emphasis is placed on oral comprehension, a crucial skill for all other classes and for a healthy adjustment to the Miss Hall's community. Grammar, vocabulary, reading comprehension, writing, and understanding elements of American culture are included in this year-long course. This class is usually offered to ninth grade students.
    (1 credit; full year)
  • English as a Second Language - Advanced

    This year-long course is structured to increase international students' confidence in their ability to read academic material with solid comprehension and increasing speed. Readings from current events, psychology, government, the natural sciences and literature, as examples, are used for discussions, collaborative projects, and writing prompts. Advanced grammar studies and vocabulary exercises support the curriculum.
    (1 credit; full year)
  • English Language and Culture

    English Language and Culture is the most challenging level of language support offered at Miss Hall's. Unless exempt by departmental decision, all international students are required to pass this course in order to graduate. Students refine their skills in public speaking and academic writing. College-level readings about American culture and other advanced materials are used to prompt discussions, interviews, and projects. A large portion of this year-long course is devoted to the language areas tested by the SAT and iBT: listening and reading comprehension, grammar, speaking, vocabulary, and writing. Upon completion of this course, a student should feel confident about her ability to negotiate life in the United States, having conscientiously identified and compared her values to those frequently presented by American culture.
    (1 credit; full year)

Language Department Core Values

Language Department News

Meet the Faculty

List of 7 members.

  • Sarah Nix 

    Language Department Chair; Latin and Greek Teacher
    Brown University - Ph.D.
    St. Olaf College - B.A.
    Read Bio
  • Aurelie Cressin 

    French Teacher
    University of Arkansas - M.A.
    Universite du Maine - B.A.
    Read Bio
  • Tanya Kalischer 

    Director of Student Activities/Chinese Language Teacher
    Wesleyan University - B.A.
    Read Bio
  • Liz Kulze 

    ESL Teacher
    University of Wyoming - M.F.A.
    Boston College - B.A.
  • Josephine Nicholson 

    Spanish Teacher and Global Programs Liaison
    Universidad Autonoma de Bucaramanga
    Read Bio
  • Marian Rutledge 

    ESL Teacher; Greenhouse Manager
    Wheaton College - B.A.
    Read Bio
  • Ana Cristina Velez 

    Spanish Teacher
    Read Bio
492 Holmes Road • Pittsfield, MA 01201  (413) 443-6401

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Located in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, Miss Hall's School is an all girls private, college preparatory boarding and day high school for grades 9-12.
© Copyright 2018 Miss Hall's School