Middle School World Languages

The Middle School language curriculum seeks to offer a variety of language experiences for fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students. Students begin their foreign language study in the fifth grade and continue in the sixth grade with a conversation-based program in Chinese, French or Spanish. Seventh graders may choose Chinese, French, Latin, or Spanish and continue the study of the same language as eighth graders.

The World Languages Department determined that the inclusion of the fifth and sixth grade French, Spanish, and Chinese languages improves proficiency, heightens global awareness, and enhances cognitive problem-solving and performance in all skill areas.

The fifth and sixth grade modern languages focus on introducing conversational usage in everyday situations. Theme-based units allow students to practice pronunciation and increase vocabulary. Students learn through situational dialogues, games, songs and the TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) method. This language exposure emphasizes listening and speaking skills. The language classes for fifth and sixth grades meet three times out of a seven-day rotation.


Seventh and eighth graders take a beginning Chinese course which is equivalent to one year of high school Chinese. This course is a beginning course to introduce the Chinese language system and to establish a solid foundation of the Pinyin and characters. Tones of pronunciation are emphasized to ensure learners' speaking skills and listening comprehension. Reading and writing characters are practiced extensively. Students acquire a basic vocabulary which allows them to communicate about family, personal interests, and daily life. Preliminary research and study on China, such as the land, the people, the environment, and the society, enrich students' understanding and appreciation of Chinese cultures and values. All Harpeth Hall Chinese students take the Youth Chinese Test.

Seventh and eighth graders take a beginning French course which is equivalent to one year of high school French. The goal of this French course is to enable students to communicate effectively in spoken and written French. To this end, French is used in the classroom as much as possible with small classes offering the opportunity to practice oral skills and to have maximum interaction within the language. Emphasis is placed on aural comprehension, speaking skills, reading short passages, mastery of the basic structures of French grammar, and a vocabulary applicable to everyday life in French-speaking countries. Throughout the course, students are introduced to the diversity of the Francophone world, with emphasis on contemporary culture. They practice conversations, present skits, write mini-essays, listen to native speakers on videos and online recordings, read French materials, and work on projects to learn the culture and to improve their fluency. All Harpeth Hall French students take the National French Exam.

Seventh and eighth graders take a beginning Latin course which is equivalent to one year of high school Latin. Small classes offer opportunities to practice oral and written skills and to have maximum interaction with the teachers. In addition to learning Latin grammar and vocabulary, students learn about the Latin roots of English vocabulary and are exposed to basic linguistic principles applicable to many languages. Students investigate topics on Roman history and culture and are introduced to classical influences on art, architecture, government, mythology, and literature. They present this knowledge through a variety of creative methods. All Harpeth Hall Latin students take the National Latin Exam.

Seventh and eighth graders take a beginning Spanish course which is equivalent to one year of high school Spanish. The goal of this course is to enable the student to communicate with native speakers, and to this end, the class is conducted in Spanish. The class emphasizes the oral, aural, written, and spoken attributes of the language, cornerstones of language proficiency. While students improve linguistic proficiency, they also gain cultural appreciation through the study of Spanish speaking countries. Activities include conversational Spanish, short readings, written compositions, cultural projects, and audio and online recordings. As a culmination of their experience, the eighth grade students read a literary novel in Spanish.  All Harpeth Hall Spanish students take the National Spanish Exam.