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World Languages

Jennifer Egan , Director of World Languages & English as a New Language


The primary objective of the World Languages department is to ensure that students have a deep and enduring understanding of cultures and acquire a high level of proficiency in the target language. The Harrison Central School District begins language instruction in grade six and offers students the option to study French, Italian or Spanish. Latin is offered at the high school level as an elective. Grammar and vocabulary are taught and drilled, but they are combined to make language meaningful and authentic. Culture plays an important role; language and culture can not be separated since one influences the other. The ability to communicate in a second language bridges the gap that often separates the peoples of the world. The work of the World Languages teacher is to ensure that students are prepared to overcome cultural and linguistics barriers so that they can avail themselves of the social and economic opportunities that our ever shrinking world provides. 

The World Languages curriculum includes universal topics that are part of the 6th-12th grade scope and sequence.  These topics, as needed, are revisited each year because of the cumulative and spiraling nature of language acquisition.  Please note that a few of the topics are introduced at the upper (or IB) levels of instruction due to their abstract nature and the linguistic demands that are needed in order to carry out high level discussions.  As a student moves through the program, the expectation is that they handle each topic with greater confidence and control over grammatical structures in order to clearly and effectively communicate in French, Italian and/or Spanish.  The topics are:

Personal ID House & Home
Meal Taking- Food/Drink Health & Welfare
Public/Private Services Shopping
Social Relationships Cultural Diversity
Family Life Communication & Media
Education Technology
Travel Physical Environment
Customs & Traditions Leisure
Community/Neighborhood Global Issues
Earning A Living  


Our middle school learners begin language instruction in grade six in French, Italian or Spanish. The World Languages teachers engage our children in age and level appropriate activities to develop Checkpoint A (novice level) fluency. Students at the Checkpoint A level can...

  • comprehend simple language consisting of basic vocabulary and structures in face-to-face conversation with peers and familiar adults 
  • comprehend the main idea of more extended conversations with some unfamiliar vocabulary and structures as well as cognates of English words
  • call upon repetition, rephrasing, and nonverbal cues to derive or convey meaning from a language other than English
  • use appropriate strategies to initiate and engage in simple conversations with more fluent or native speakers of the same age group, familiar adults, and providers of common public services. 

Required Assessments:
Students complete Checkpoint A at the end of grade eight and take a locally developed assessment to ensure that they have meet the Checkpoint A requirements. Upon successful completion of Checkpoint A, students receive one unit of credit for high school and are encouraged to continue their studies beyond Checkpoint A.


High School students continue their study of French, Italian or Spanish but have the additional option of Latin as a second or third language of study. Incoming ninth grade students begin Checkpoint B to build their fluency beyond memorized responses. Students at Checkpoint B can...

  • comprehend messages and short conversations when listening to peers, familiar adults, and providers of public services either in face-to-face interactions or on the cell phone/telephone
  • understand the main idea and some discrete information in television, radio, streaming video, or live presentations
  • initiate and sustain conversations, face to face, via Skype, or on the phone, with native-speaking or more fluent individuals
  • select vocabulary appropriate to a range of topics, employ simple and complex sentences in present, past, and future time frames, and express details and nuances by using appropriate modifiers
  • exhibit spontaneity in their interactions, particularly, when the topic is familiar, but often rely on familiar utterances
  • and use repetition and circumlocution as well as gestures and other nonverbal cues to sustain conversation.

Required Assessments:
Checkpoint B is completed at the end of grade ten with the NYS Regents exam. Successful completion of Checkpoint B provides students with three Regents credits for graduation.

International Baccalaureate Study - 11th & 12th Grade 

Foreign language study is considered a core subject area for IB diploma candidates but also provides students the opportunity to engage in college level learning by earning a Certificate of Participation in their language discipline. Our rigorous World Languages course offerings prepare our students to enter our IB program in grade eleven. The topics covered in the curriculum move from fifteen topics to three major themes/topics for our IB World Languages programs; the overarching themes are: communication & media, global issues, and social relationships, with options to include cultural diversity, customs and traditions, health, leisure and science and technology. Our IB World Languages program asks students to handle, discuss and present such topics in the spoken and written form based upon readings and listening activities. Our IB programme prepares student with the tools to think critically to compete and engage others in our global community in a language other than English.

Required Assessments:
Students take the IB assessment at the end of IB World Languages SL YR 2 in grade twelve.