Foreign Language

One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.

Frank Smith, psycholinguist.


At SHS we believe that knowing other languages and understanding other cultures is an essential 21st Century skill set for our students as they prepare to live and work in a global society. Our teachers have developed foreign language courses with a dedicated commitment to prepare our students for a fast paced and ever changing future.

Implications of studying a well designed second language program:
Foreign language students consistently perform better on SAT and ACT tests. (College Board).
Students who study a foreign language outperform others in mathematics. Students who studied a foreign language outperformed their non-language-learning peers on the MCAS test after two to three years, and significantly outperformed them after seven to eight years (Caccavale 2007).

In Science, bilingual children show an improved ability to formulate scientific hypotheses and use more complex scientific language in communicating them (Kessler & Quinn 1980).

Bilingual children in one study reported in Nature showed a significantly larger density of grey matter in their brains. And those who had been exposed to a second language from an early age proved to have the most grey matter of all. Grey matter is responsible for processing information, including memory, speech and sensory perception. And if it can be increased by exposure to a second language, then language learning would be just like taking your brain to the gym (Dinçay 2007).
Several studies indicate that individuals who learn a second language are more creative and better at solving complex problems than those who do not (Bamford & Mizokawa 1991).


Guidelines for Success/Assessment:
Minimum admission standards for Massachusetts state colleges and universities require two courses in a single language. Competitive colleges and universities expect a sequence of study beyond the two-year minimum. Beginning with the class of 2018, SHS students will have to meet the requirement of two consecutive years in the same foreign language in order to graduate.

Placement Criteria:
The study of languages is sequential and cumulative in nature. It is essential that there be mastery of fundamental material before students continue to advanced study. (See individual course Guidelines.)
Students must have a willingness to speak in the foreign language; an interest in learning about world cultures; the ability to understand and properly use vocabulary and grammar structures; and good listening skills.