Inquiry in Modern Languages

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Inquiry in Modern Languages

What does inquiry look like when learning a new language? What distinguishes Modern Languages classrooms at Cate? What are the main aspects of our Modern Languages program?

(We offer classes in Chinese, French, Japanese, and Spanish)

Foundational Principles and Distinctive Features of the Modern Languages Program at Cate

  • Great emphasis is placed on students generating and asking questions, proficiency, and performance.
  • Small class sizes (from 2 students to 14 in 2018, depending on level) ensure participation.
  • Placement level is determined individually based on past work and student experience level.
  • Advanced language and literature studies available in all four languages.
  • Four language offerings with two Asian and two European languages. (one of the few boarding schools to offer Japanese and Mandarin).
  • Emphasis on culture, cultural awareness, and behaviors in addition to speaking and writing.
  • Cate groups have study/travel opportunities intermittently during spring and summer breaks.
  • Use of technology (audio & websites) as a teaching and learning tool to aid speaking and listening.

Student Skills and Learning Responsibilities

Cate students will be able to:

  • Gain proficiency and develop fluency over time in all four modes: Speaking, listening, writing, reading ALL in the target language:

Specifically, students will…

  • Explore (then ask questions).
  • Interact (notice & wonder).
  • Discuss, Explain, Infer, Clarify.
  • Research, Communicate, Reflect, Create.
  • Formulate and ask their own questions.
  • Do individual work and also contribute and share within the class (respond to and critique peers).
  • Evaluate their own progress, respond to challenges, learn how they best learn themselves
  • Wrestle with ideas, dilemmas; develop problem-solving skills in real-time, become comfortable in the face of challenge and discomfort.
  • Be active, involved, attentive, and participatory learners in class and be cooperative, supportive peers to maximize the group experience.
  • Identify and leverage language resources (primary sources, dictionaries, tools).

Teaching Practices and Pedagogy

Cate Language teachers:

  • Provide level-appropriate readings, situations, artifacts, objects, videos, and visuals to prompt students’ thinking and questions.
  • Orchestrate and construct classroom time to promote student skills shown in the student skills column on the left side of this table.
  • Focus on students speaking and listening for most of the class time, mostly in the target language.
  • Involve each student in every class to participate, maximize the number of target language experiences.
  • Use a variety of formative and summative assessment techniques (oral, aural, and written) and provide extensive individual feedback to students on their written work and oral expression.
  • Emphasize new perspectives for students on their heritage language by studying a new language and culture (mirror back).