Language curriculum for all middle and high school students, from beginners through advanced language speakers.
From true beginners to experienced language learners, the Academy uses the nationally recognized American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) proficiency scale to measure student growth. Students take an adaptive assessment to measure their starting and ending proficiency levels. During the program, the curriculum provides customized can-do statements and performance tasks to gauge student performance on a daily basis. At the end of the program, students and parents receive a comprehensive Academic Report that details the student’s performance.
We encourage parents to present the Academic Report to their child’s classroom teacher or world language department chair who will then be able to measure the student’s progress in comparison to their own curriculum and place them appropriately.
Placement in the Academy is determined by a short exam taken online in May prior to arrival. The test measures reading, writing and speaking skills. Students are grouped by skill and proficiency. Each level has objectives aligned to ACTFL’s (American Council of the Teaching of Foreign Languages) standards for proficiency. Visit the Campuses page to see the levels and languages offered at each campus.
- Level I – Can understand simple questions, can memorize phrases and short conversations
- Level II – Can create sentences and formulate ideas
- Level III – Is fluent enough in the language to handle daily life tasks; an independent language learner
- Level IV – Can discuss abstract ideas and most subjects in context with historical or social issues
- Level V – Can read and understand literary material on par with heritage speaker
Each day, Academy students will encounter new vocabulary, ideas, and grammar associated with a range of subjects familiar to high school students. They will use their Academy workbook to read and write about what is important to them. Themes are grouped into four sections, one for each week:
- Week 1: Greetings, Daily Routines, Feelings, Dorm Life, Leisure Activities
- Week 2: Food, Health, Environment, Lost and Found, Transportation
- Week 3: Family, Appearance, Clothing, Sports, Music, Movies
- Week 4: Countries, Our Planet, Future Plans, Assessment
Students will be assessed in their speaking, writing, and reading comprehension and capability during the fourth week of their Academy session. The results of this assessment will highlight their accomplishments made during the four-week session. The STAMP (Standards-based Assessment Measurement of Proficiency) test provides the necessary objective assessment and reporting required by both administrators and teachers to determine student performance. STAMP is research-based with student scores linked to benchmarks, which directly correlate to the performance guidelines established by ACTFL. The guidelines are used by most states as the basis for world language standards at the novice and intermediate levels.
Our curriculum includes a grammar component, although, in contrast to many language textbooks, the curriculum itself is not organized by grammar topics. Each level of our curriculum is given a set of can-do statements; teachers and students are then able to measure student learning by their ability to complete the can-do statements assigned to each unit. The topics are incorporated into these statements in order to ensure that students learn how to use grammar correctly, and that it’s learned within a meaningful context. For example, the topic of food:
Level I – Students are asked to make and share a list of things they eat everyday (grammar topics would include: present tense, regular and irregular verb conjugations, plural forms of nouns);
Level V – Students are asked to read an authentic newspaper article and explain their understanding of what “ecological footprint” means and the importance of building a sustainable agricultural system.
Culture and language are inseparable. Academy students pursue a variety of activities that enrich their understanding of the places that speak their language. Summer sessions may include prose and poetry workshops, advertising design classes, Chinese calligraphy lessons, musical jam sessions, film productions, small-group cooking classes and studies of the culture behind sports.
Each Academy will make excursions in the local community to explore cultural offerings including art and history museums, state parks, festivals and authentic restaurants. Off-campus trips usually take place on a Saturday or Sunday and may include: local July 4th parade and fireworks, outdoor art tour, the local Chinatown and museums including the Getty Museum, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia, or a lake visit for a cruise or swim.