With their conversational skills at the ready, Spanish students have a linguistic passport to explore almost two dozen countries and territories that conduct life in Spanish. All Spanish classes incorporate activities that draw on this wealth of cultural and linguistic variety. Spanish is learned via immersion through conversing, problem solving, debating, speech making, acting, and composing. After completing the third year of Spanish, students are ready to take AP seminars.
Spanish I and II
In Spanish I and II, students are encouraged to communicate orally and, from the beginning of each course, are required to use the language in class. The primary textbooks, Bitácora I and II, offer an innovative, student-centered approach that develops language skills and emphasizes cultural competency. Communication skills, grammar, and vocabulary are integrated into a variety of activities that include small group projects, skits, presentations, videos, songs, and conversations. The text is supplemented with music, film, and internet clips. Both courses introduce students to the varied Spanish-speaking world and acquaint them with different accents, customs, foods, and other cultural practices.
The theme of Spanish III is “creativity and imagination.” Activities include writing poems and stories as well as reading, writing, and presenting a short play about La Casa de Mango Street. Students develop and deliver presentations modeled on TED talks. Course topics include professions, relationships, food, science, technology, the environment, and human rights. Beyond the textbook, the course materials include films, articles, music, and podcasts. Students are required to attend a Hispanic cultural event in the Bay Area and write a review of their experience. By the end of this course, students are prepared for the SAT Subject Test in Spanish.
AP Spanish Seminar
Literature and Human Rights
In the face of rampant human rights violations, how can literature engage with social justice? Through selected readings from Spain and Latin America, ranging from pre-Columbian myths to current fiction and poetry (including excerpts from Don Quijote de La Mancha and the genre of magical realism), this course explores how literature is a powerful and enlightening force in calling attention to and denouncing human rights violations. Students in this seminar acquire, refine, and practice conversational skills at an advanced level. Class activities include discussion and debate on current issues, oral presentations, role-playing, creative writing exercises, and films. The class also works at a local public school with Spanish-speaking children.
AP Spanish Seminar
A Study of Place: Culture, History, and Life in the Hispanic World
How does the interplay between geography and human relationships shape a place’s culture and language? This seminar focuses on the history, society, and traditions of places in the Hispanic world, such as Machu Picchu, México-Tenochtitlán, and Havana’s seafront. Class discussions, papers, and oral presentations are based on films, Spanish and Latin American television and radio programs, YouTube clips, daily news, literary extracts, and music. An independent project is required at the end of each semester and attendance at cultural events outside of class time is encouraged.