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High School Spanish

Core Beliefs
The class design is grounded in two core beliefs about language education:

  1. Contact with authentic spoken and written language is essential: all assessments and class activities aim to put students in contact with Spanish as it is used in real life. That means speaking activities are done "full speed" from day 1 and students are constantly put in contact with language features and vocabulary beyond their reach. By asking students to stretch themselves and to be willing to be uncomfortable, we put an emphasis on learning strategies for negotiating meaning and keeping conversations alive even when students have limited language ability.
  2. Learning language requires breaking down barriers: barriers of culture, of anxiety and of nervousness. The best way to break those barriers down is through humor and fun.
To put students in contact with authentic language and to break down students resistance to speaking in Spanish, the Rassias Method is used daily to provide students with an opportunity to practice listening and speaking Spanish correctly. The method uses theater and humor to keep students engaged and to enable all students to speak Spanish in a low-risk, supportive, fun environment.


Assessment in Spanish is focused mainly on 3 different "strands" of language, based on the Massachusetts Frameworks for language learning. The three strands in which students are assessed are:

  1. Conversation: the ability to communicate in a foreign language, principally through speaking and listening. In conversation assessments, the emphasis is put on successfully communicating. Students are urged to ask questions, repeat themselves, and use gestures and other non-verbal methods to help them communicate when their language ability falls short.
  2. Interpretation: in interpretation assessments, students are faced with real-world spoken and written Spanish and given time to puzzle through it. Unlike conversation assessments, interpretation assessments give students the opportunity to re-read or re-listen as many times as they need.
  3. Presentation: in presentation assessments, students are given time to prepare oral presentations or written work. Students edit and re-edit their work, aiming to achieve as high a level of correctness as possible.

Class pages
For more detailed information, see individual course webpages: