Students develop the linguistic and cultural literacy that allows them to be active citizens of our increasingly multicultural world. Learning language through reading, writing, speaking, and listening, gives students the opportunity to experience how the study of another language opens doors to a greater understanding of others and of themselves.
We teach language actively and place students in the central role. Our teachers blend traditional and contemporary teaching styles to provide students with a variety of ways to develop and express their oral and written proficiency. Latin students read prose in its historical and cultural context and learn about the multicultural tradition of the Roman world; often this study culminates with students studying the epic poem the Aeneid in AP Latin. Modern language students film videos, write newspapers, and complete research projects entirely in the target language.
All modern language courses, whether beginning or advanced, emphasize the students' oral proficiency in the language. We encourage our students to examine and understand the ways of thinking that make each culture unique, in addition to learning grammatical forms and vocabulary. Students implement their language skills through culturally-rooted projects and presentation to foster a broader understanding of the cultures that speak the target language.
Williston's location in the Pioneer Valley and our ties with the Five Colleges provide our students with invaluable opportunities. Latin students have attended Classics Day at Mount Holyoke College and participated in workshops that deepened their understanding of Roman culture. Spanish students have attended Spanish cinema classes at the University of Massachusetts Amherst to augment cultural studies. Members of the Toumani Diabate Symmetric Orchestra and Malian musician Rokia Traore have visited French classes to speak about their music and culture, and students later attended their concerts.
The Language Department also supports and encourages travel abroard. French students attend the Quebec Winter Carnival and excursions to France have provided students with homestay opportunities and travel throughout the country. Spanish students have benefitted from service projects at an orphanage in Honduras, lived and studied in Mexico, and participated in educational tours to Spain. Latin students have taken trips to Greece and Italy to see firsthand the physical monuments of classical culture. Language students can also embrace travel opportunities through School Year Abroad, an interscholastic program that sends students to Spain, France, Italy, or China.
Our broadest goal is to help students communicate with others in our multiethnic world.