Preparing Boys for Life


Students in Haverford’s Upper School are required to complete at least two years of foreign language study in one of three language offerings: Chinese, Latin, or Spanish. We offer standard and advanced sections and the vast majority of our students study at through the fourth or fifth level in their language of choice. A small percentage of language enthusiasts elect to study two languages. Below you will find descriptions of the advanced (denoted by an *) and standard course offerings.


Chinese I is an introductory course is offered to students with little or no prior experience in Mandarin Chinese. Basic background information of the language such as tone graphs, pinyin, and formation of characters will be introduced. Vocabulary, grammatical structures, and cultural references will be taught and discussed at an elementary level. Students will learn to read simple passages and write in simplified Chinese characters. This course is mostly conducted in Chinese, with the exception of addressing important and difficult concepts.

Chinese II builds on skills, comprehension and proficiency developed in Chinese I and introduces additional vocabulary and grammatical structures. Students will be equipped with the ability to communicate with native speakers in everyday settings and sustain meaningful conversations. Emphasis will be placed on performing culturally authentic and pragmatic communicative tasks.

Chinese III* is an advanced class that picks up on skills, comprehension and proficiency developed previously in Chinese II and again expands vocabulary and grammatical structures. Students will be equipped with the ability to communicate with native speakers in everyday settings and sustain meaningful conversations. Emphasis will be placed on performing culturally authentic and pragmatic communicative tasks. Chinese is the main medium in the classroom and in casual situations throughout the school day.

Finally, Chinese IV* refines students’ listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. Conversations and discussions will be based on socially and culturally authentic context and materials and students will learn to compose descriptive passages using advanced vocabulary, sentence structures, and both traditional and up-­to­-date idioms that have substantial reflection on Chinese current affairs. Chinese is the main medium in the classroom, as well as in casual situations throughout the school day.


Latin I is an introductory course that examines the linguistic, cultural and historical traditions of the Greco-Roman civilizations. As a way to foster clear and logical thinking, Latin grammar, syntax and translation form the core of study. Since Latin is a basic constituent of the English language, the course examines vocabulary with particular emphasis on English derivatives and related definitions. Students also study mythological, historical and cultural themes in order to broaden their appreciation of the foundations of Western civilization.

Latin II review the fundamentals of Latin I and introduces more sophisticated grammatical concepts requisite for success at the intermediate level. Fables and mythological stories introduce the art of translation and precise analysis and expression in preparation for reading the original works of the Latin writers in Latin III are emphasized. Students will study the history and culture of ancient Rome in depth, using archaeological and epigraphic as well as literary sources

Latin III courses continue with the mastery of sophisticated grammatical concepts which are studied in the context of historical writings. With the text Duces Romanorum the students examine ancient Rome with an emphasis on its greatest leaders from its founding through the Republic. In the spring particular emphasis will be placed on the works of Caesar and Cicero. In conjunction with our translations, students will study the literary, cultural, intellectual and historical contributions of the ancient Roman world.

Latin IV students study the traditions of ancient epic by reading the Iliad, its ancient Latin translation, the Ilias Latina, and Vergil’s epic poem The Aeneid.. In addition to mastering Latin epic meter, students become familiar with Latin poetic style and its place in the Western literary canon . Through extensive translation and textual analysis, students develop their confidence in reading at sight and, by writing short papers and giving oral reports on relevant topics, they enhance their appreciation of poetic artistry.

Latin V* Prose provides an opportunity to read and study a variety of Roman prose writings including history, political commentary, philosophy and letters. The works of authors such as Livy, Tacitus, Suetonius, Caesar, Cicero and/or Pliny will provide the basis for a more thorough understanding of the Roman Republic and Empire, while in Latin V* Poetry students will read and study a range of Roman poetry including epic, lyric and satire. The works of authors such as Ovid, Catullus, Martial and/or Juvenal will offer the student insights into Roman thinking about politics, love, everyday life, mythology and poetry.


Spanish I is designed for the student who has had little or no prior exposure to the Spanish language. It emphasizes the acquisition of fundamental practical vocabulary, a solid foundation in basic grammatical structures, a detailed study of the verb system and the development of sound pronunciation and speaking skills.

Students enrolled in standard or advanced sections of Spanish II continue to build a solid foundation in the fundamentals of grammar and in the acquisition of a practical, useful, contemporary vocabulary for oral and written communication in a variety of everyday situations. Furthermore, through various cultural explorations, students will continue to expand their knowledge of Hispanic cultures. Students participate in daily oral drills, complete translation exercises, read short passages and write one-page compositions.

Spanish III students will continue their study of the subjunctive mood, and will be introduced to more complex grammatical structures. They will read longer passages, and sections of authentic literary works, and will engage in class discussion primarily in Spanish. In Spanish III, students complete their study of the Spanish verb system, and begin to apply their skills to a variety of exercises designed to promote greater fluency in spoken and written Spanish. Short stories, films, and newspaper articles are incorporated into the curriculum, in order to foster greater understanding of Hispanic culture, and to help the student develop the skills necessary to express himself in spoken Spanish

The objective of Spanish IV is to help the students to convert the linguistic skills acquired during the three previous years into a coherent, clear, and useful means of communication. It prepares students to converse at length and handle everyday situations with confidence. Students view films in Spanish, and read literary works from world-renowned Spanish and Latin American authors. They also use the Internet, magazines and newspapers to read about current events in the Spanish speaking world. The films, literary readings and articles are the basis for classroom discussion and provide students with a general understanding and appreciation for the Hispanic culture. By the end of this course the student should have developed the self-assurance and confidence necessary for using the target language in informal conversations, or before a variety of audiences, ranging from a small circle of friends to a full class.

Spanish V: Cine del mundo hispano addresses themes relevant to the 21st century in the Hispanic world, many of them polemic in nature. Topics include immigration, oppressive government regimes, global responsibility and regionalism versus globalization. Students learn the skill set necessary to watch, understand and interpret Hispanic film and ultimately enabling the students to view films critically and as empathetic global citizens. Advanced grammar and vocabulary will be reinforced through discussion and composition. In Spanish V: Conversación y Controversia students explore global issues through the literature, art, history, politics, film, and culture of the Spanish-speaking world. Particular emphasis will be placed on developing speaking skills, but students will be required to complete nightly readings in order to participate effectively in class. Readings will include newspapers, blogs, and other internet sources, as well as literary works. Additionally, several films will be chosen to complement the themes of the texts explored in class.

Spanish V: ¡Revolución! y Reacción is an advanced class that uses the literature, art and film of the last century to explore the role of conflict in the Spanish-speaking world. In particular the conflicts, rebellions and revolutions that have so influenced and effected countries such as Chile, Guatemala, Venezuela, Mexico and Spain may be explored. Students will be exposed to the unique voices of novelists, short story writers, poets, artists and filmmakers whose work was informed by these events. Students will also gain insight into the socio-political antecedents and repercussions of these critical events of the 20th and 21st centuries. Spanish V*: Cuentos y Cultura Contemporánea, another advanced class explores the short stories of such authors as Borges, Cortázar, Rulfo and Márquez will transform the reader’s understanding of the human experience. Immersed in the target language, students will participate actively in discussions and write reflections on literary topics. Students will explore the historical, cultural, and literary influence of various authors from all over Latin America and Spain as well as study the evolution of the short story through the 21st century.

Classics Electives

Ancient Greek:
This course endeavors to immerse the student in the rich intellectual, cultural, historical and literary heritage of ancient Greece, with particular emphasis on Athens in the fifth century BC. Through daily reading of ancient Greek, the students will gain mastery of grammatical concepts, acquire a substantial, working vocabulary and attain proficiency in translation. Initially reading Greek passages adapted from such Classical authors as Herodotus, Thucydides and Aeschylus, by the end of the course we will be reading those same authors in the original. We will also be exploring additional literary traditions by reading several Greek tragedies in translation. The students will be encouraged at all times to examine and reflect upon the myriad of contributions that the ancient Greeks have made to Western Civilization. Prerequisite: department approval.

Mythology (fall or spring semester):
Though we are separated from the ancient Greeks by millennia, Greek mythology continues to play an important role in shaping and understanding our culture. In this class, we will become familiar with major stories and themes from Greek myths, as well as examine how myths are structured, how people use myths to understand their experiences, how societies apply myths to political purposes, and how myths are depicted in ancient and modern art. No knowledge of Latin is necessary to enjoy and succeed in this class. [This is a Classics course. Knowledge of Latin is NOT required.]