Brooklyn private independent school

World Languages

Berkeley Carroll views the exposure to other cultures, and the learning of languages in addition to English, as central to its mission of aiding students in becoming global thinkers. In the Upper School, students may take Spanish, French, Mandarin or Latin, or some combination. About a quarter of our students choose to study two languages. Upper School students may also learn Arabic through an online program offered by Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth.

Academic travel opportunities to study at the CELEI Institute in Granada, Spain and the Centre Mediterranéen d’Etudes Françaises in Cap d’Ail, France provide our advanced students with a fitting capstone to their language study at Berkeley Carroll. These experiences foster a deep respect for and interest in foreign and ancient cultures, and help to produce a climate of open-mindedness about global learning.

From 9th grade on, students are grouped according to proficiency, which means that many language classes have students from multiple grades and that students may progress as far as their interest and language mastery allow them to go. Upper level electives not only assume conversational fluency, but also allow students to choose topics and content that are of particular interest to them.


Spanish I

What are the advantages of learning another language and being able to express yourself in another language?
What patterns are there when conjugating verbs in Spanish?
How can Spanish be used outside the classroom?
What makes the Spanish language different from the English language?
What is gender and what is the importance of gender in the Spanish language?

The emphasis in this course is put on teaching students the Spanish grammar structures and tenses as well as vocabulary units that will allow them to have basic communication among themselves and with the teacher in the classroom and with native speakers in real life situations. Students will use writing, reading, speaking, and listening skills on a daily basis. During the full year material on both Spanish and Latin American cultures is also introduced through unit projects.

Spanish IIA

What are the advantages of learning another language and being able to express yourself in another language?
What patterns are there when conjugating verbs in Spanish?
What are the differences between the preterite and the imperfect?
How can Spanish be used outside the classroom?

After reviewing the fundamental structures of the level I course, Spanish IIA introduces formal and informal commands, indirect and double object pronouns, preterite-imperfect contrast and more irregular verbs at the present tenses as well as the present subjunctive with impersonal expressions. There is considerable emphasis on new vocabulary acquisition leading to more elaborated conversations and writing. Throughout the year, students are also exposed to cultural material about the Spanish-speaking world.

Spanish IIB

In this course, which follows Spanish I or IIA, students not only begin to comprehend listening and reading passages more fully, but also start to express themselves more meaningfully in both speaking and writing. Each unit consists of a new vocabulary theme and grammar concept. Through reading, listening, speaking and writing activities, students are challenged by the three modes of communication (interpretive, interpersonal and presentational). Students are expected to be active participants in their learning, understand grammatical patterns, participate in class conversations and present in front of their classmates. The course uses authentic material which includes songs, short stories, current events, poems. Additionally, students will examine the products, practices and perspectives of Spanish-speaking cultures. This course intends to enhance students’ level of confidence and improve their active command of the language while leading them to a deeper understanding of Spanish language and culture.

Spanish III

In this course, which follows Spanish IIA or IIB, students continue their studies by expanding their knowledge of Spanish language and culture. These elements are presented in the context of thematically organized units with vocabulary relating to practical situations, e.g., travel, daily routines, leisure activities, clothing and personal characteristics, holidays, etc. In addition this course also presents cultural material including history, geography, politics and the arts of the Spanish-speaking world, which enhances the students’ understanding of products, practices and perspectives. Through the use of authentic materials such as TV, radio, videos and newspapers, students understand and compare their community to the Spanish-speaking communities. Furthermore, this course will also prepare them for a more in-depth comprehension of both Spanish and Latin American literature.

Spanish III - Advanced

This is a course for highly motivated language students. In Spanish III Advanced students will implement and become proficient in the three modes of communication (interpretive, interpersonal and presentational). In class, students are expected to communicate at all time in the target language. Daily communication not only includes navigating in the target culture but also requires students to express their opinions on a variety of topics presented in the class. Students practice asking a variety of questions when necessary to obtain information, to satisfy basic needs, such as directions, or making a new friend. Students continue to develop their understanding of Spanish speaking cultures by integrating the products, practices and perspectives of the Spanish- speaking cultures. They express themselves more creatively and with more depth. Students build their confidence in their abilities to communicate both orally, in writing and to maneuver in real-life situations.

Spanish IV - Advanced

This course is open to juniors who took Spanish III- Advanced in tenth grade.

Latinos in NYC

Immigration from Latin America to the US and the corresponding growth of the Latino population in New York City are two vital developments in recent history. This course will explore Latin American Culture in the city by focusing on the history of Latin American contributions to the arts. All instruction will be in the target language. This fall elective course will also coincide with Hispanic Heritage week, providing an active learning opportunity regarding how Latino culture is portrayed today. One likely speaker for the class could be Latino poet and playwright Carlos Andres Gomez.

Spanish Language and Composition

This active communication class is designed primarily for Seniors who have completed a Spanish 3 class in eleventh grade.

This course continues to develop reading, writing and speaking proficiency. A strong emphasis will be put on class discussions, encouraging students to be active participants, using their communicative skills on a daily basis while continuing to reinforce and learn some grammar topics.

Through the reading and discussion of short literary selections, and watching current events and short documentaries on Art and Culture with a focus on Southern Spain in order to prepare students for our Granada exchange program, students will be exposed to a large amount of vocabulary and colloquial expressions. This course intends to enhance students’ level of confidence and improve their active command of the language while leading them to a deeper understanding of Spanish culture.


French I

What is the importance of learning another language?
What makes the French language different from the English language?
What are some of the patterns of French grammar?

In this course, students will learn regular and irregular verb conjugations in the present tense as well as basic conjugations in the preterite. Vocabulary will be taught through themes such as the weather, family, occupations, food, clothing, etc.. Students will learn the skills necessary to have basic conversations in the target language and to be understood by native speakers. From the very beginning emphasis is placed on the four essential skills: speaking, listening, writing and reading. Students are expected to express themselves in the target language at all times. Cultural material is introduced with every unit covered.

French II

How do you express past events? What are the different past tenses in French?
How do you express future events?
How do you express things that you would, could, and should do?

After reviewing the fundamentals of Level I, French II covers the rest of the most commonly used tenses in French: imparfait, plus-que-parfait, futur et conditonnel. There is continued emphasis on new vocabulary and idiomatic expressions. Cultural material about the French-speaking world is also woven into the curriculum. Through the study of literature, students will strengthen both their oral and written communication skills.

French III: Temps Modernes

How do I apply my knowledge of vocabulary and grammar to become a better communicator?
How does reading literature in a foreign language help me articulate more complex thoughts?

This course focuses on composition, conversation, and culture, with a complete review of French grammar. This is the year where students can express themselves more creatively and with more depth. More complex grammar such as subjunctive, passé simple and conditional in hypothetical clauses will be studied. In their essays, students will use complex sentence structures in order to express sophisticated ideas with better accuracy. Students also begin to read literature other than poetry in order to expand their knowledge of vocabulary and idiomatic expressions. Students will follow closely current events in the Francophone world by watching French news on television and listening to French radio on a weekly basis. They will also work on a project on French Impressionism and XIX century France.

French IV: Temps Modernes

How do I apply my knowledge of grammar and vocabulary in order to communicate better in speaking and writing?
How does studying Voltaire’s Candide and Sartre’s existentialism help me to shape my personal reflection and articulate my thoughts?
How does reading literature in a foreign language help me articulate more complex thoughts?

The course will offer students the opportunity to continue studying authentic documents and books which are challenging and intellectually stimulating; it will also increase the students’ awareness of the cultural aspects of the language. Students read well-known French authors, they watch French movies, and they also work on a project on French Impressionism and XIX century France. The study of a wider range of vocabulary and phrases, along with an in-depth review of French grammar, is also a dominant aspect of the course.

From Camus to Godard

How did the Second World War affect the trend of thought in post war France?
What does it mean to be “Human”? Does the Declaration of Human Rights still stands in post war France? Are we all born equal? Is there hope in life?
How does a war change social, political and cultural behaviors? How does it affect laws? How did it affect French women’s rights?
Is Art, which transcends generations, a witness of its time?

In this class we will read books or excerpts from major French writers such as Albert Camus, André Malraux, Céline, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Françoise Sagan. The readings will be supported by movies and documentaries on the same topic. We will also pay particular attention to the work of the following directors: Jean Renoir, Marcel Carmé, Jean Cocteau, François Truffaut, Louis Malle, Jean Luc Godard, and Roger Vadim.

We will explore the influence of the Nouvelle Vague of French cinema on women’s rights and politics, how the existentialist thoughts blossomed at the May ‘68 revolution, and what the influence of artists such as Dali and Picasso was on popular culture.

France in the 21st Century

How does history influence the present?
How do cultures influence each other?
What does it mean to be French in 2014?
How do foreign cultures, languages, and arts create new trends in 21st century France?

In this class we will read contemporary authors who, as witnesses of their time, have written about identity, communities, 21st century families, immigration and memory. A few of these writers are Dany Laferrière, Muriel Barbery, Daniel Pennac, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Amin Maalouf, Laurent Cantet. By reading these authors, whose style and use of vocabulary are quite modern, we will see how the French language has evolved and is now influenced by both Arabic and English and at times, old patois. We will listen to some Slam, a poetry movement that began in the Projects of Marseille and Paris.

Students will see and discuss contemporary movies on the above topics, and will be asked to keep abreast of current events by listening to French Radio and watching French news. A bi-weekly assignment, whereby students report on a current event by presenting a mini newscast in the target language using Voicethread, will be given.

Zola & Beyond

Is the study of French literature still relevant today to 21st century adolescents?
What can we learn from the voices and beliefs of yesterday’s and today’s prominent exponents of French culture?
What is the place of multiculturalism in the France of today?

This course is designed for students who completed a French course in 11th grade and who wish to continue studying, reading and speaking French at the next level. The course centers around the study of culture and literature; it will be supported by a foundation of authentic resources. It will also put emphasis on the daily or weekly understanding of French current events through news media available on the Internet. Discussing literary works ranging from the 16th century to the present, keeping abreast with and discussing French news and currents trends, and comparing French culture with one's own cultural experience and one's own community, serve as a catalyst for self-expression and as a means of further understanding where France stands in today's world. The study of grammar and vocabulary will continue to be stressed so that the students can develop and refine their ability to express themselves in writing; the emphasis put on this area of the language is also designed to improve the students' accurate oral expression, and to help them gain confidence and fluency in the practice of the spoken language.


Latin I

How does learning about the ancient world help me understand the modern world?
How does Latin grammar relate to English grammar? How does it relate to Spanish and French grammar?
Why do so many words in English – and Spanish and French – come from Latin?

In this beginning level class, specifically designed for those who have had little or no exposure to the language, students develop a strong foundation in basic Latin grammar and vocabulary. Through our text, Wheelock’s Latin, and supplemental materials, students will learn to read and compose Latin and to recognize its influence on modern languages, while at the same time expanding their vocabulary and grammar skills in English. Additionally, students will become acquainted with Roman history and culture through readings in Latin, English, individual and group projects, and other media.

Latin II

How does learning about the ancient world help me understand the modern world? How does Latin grammar relate to English grammar? How does it relate to Spanish and French grammar? How do I translate both words and ideas from Latin into English?

In their second year of Latin, students will review material from Latin I as they study more advanced grammatical topics and add to their store of Latin vocabulary. The text for this course will be the second half of Wheelock's Latin, which will be supplemented by abridged and authentic readings in Latin. Students will also, as in their previous year of Latin, continue to learn about Roman history and culture through readings, projects, and other media.

Latin III: Literature of the Late Republic: Catullus, Cicero, and Clodia

How do different Latin texts “speak” to one another?
How do I read and write about Latin literature?How do I translate ideas and not just words?

We will begin the year with an in-depth review of material covered in Latin I and II, and then tie up any loose grammatical ends with new, advanced topics as we begin to read selected poems by Catullus, a lyric poet of the late Roman Republic. Many of the poems we will read have to do with Catullus’ beloved “Lesbia,” a pseudonym for the notorious and aristocratic Roman matron Clodia. In the second semester we will read selections from Cicero’s Pro Caelio, in which the famous orator defends his young client, Caelius, against various charges by attacking the very same Clodia (with whom Caelius had also been romantically involved). Clodia, therefore, is the link between our authors; we will discuss her portrayal as well as the political and literary background for our texts, and the lives of our authors and other important figures during this period of enormous upheaval in Roman history. In addition to translating and discussing the Latin, students will have the opportunity to read secondary literature on Catullus and Cicero, and to write analytical and creative responses to the Latin texts.

Latin IV: Literature of the Augustan Age

What is the purpose of Vergil’s Aeneid?
How does Ovid's poetry interact with Vergil's?
Is Ovid's poetry "serious"?

In their final year of Latin study, students focus on poetry by two of the greatest and most famous Roman authors, Vergil and Ovid. In addition to reading the entire poem in English, we read several important and
extended selections in Latin from Vergil's Aeneid in the fall semester and, to accompany and enrich our reading, we examine and discuss scholarly articles on each book of the poem. We also practice analytical writing throughout the term. In the spring, selections from Ovid's Amores and Metamorphoses provide a lighter balance to the Vergilian gravity of the fall and winter. We will examine Ovid's "intertextuality" with Vergil's Aeneid (and within his own oeuvre) and will consider Ovid's appeal to writers and artists as well as the "afterlife" of his work throughout the centuries. The backdrop to our reading will be the reign of the first Roman emperor, Augustus, under whose rule both Vergil and Ovid were writing and with whom they had very different relationships.

Other Languages

Online Study of Arabic

The CTY-John Hopkins Arabic online language course is offered as an additional academic class, taken on top of a student’s usual course load. In September 2016, a number of different levels will be offered, ranging from beginning to more advanced.

There will be two 12-weeks sessions, one starting in mid-September and the other starting in mid-February. Twice a week for an hour, students interact with instructors in virtual classrooms using Skype. Students also use headphones or microphones embedded in their computer to communicate with the instructors and their classmates.

The sessions emphasize everyday conversational speaking and pronunciation. The class also includes audio and video interaction, role-playing, an interactive whiteboard, chats and many other features. Course materials include a CD-ROM and text, all of which will be provided by Berkeley Carroll. The weekly time commitment for these online language courses is about 5 to 6 hours.

In order to qualify for these courses, students will have to take the SCAT, a short test like the SAT. In May, Johns Hopkins instructors come to Berkeley Carroll to administer the test to all interested students. Any student with qualifying scores (either in reading/verbal or in math) will then be eligible for these courses.

Please note that Arabic is taken in addition to students’ Berkeley Carroll language requirement and cannot be used to fulfill the language requirement for graduation.


This on-site course will be offered in 2016-2017 based on student interest and in partnership with ABC Language School. It is a two-semester class that will take place three times a cycle from early October to mid-December and from mid-January to early May. This is an introductory Mandarin class for students who have none or little prior experience in the language. This course will focus on developing students’ four skills of speaking, listening, writing and reading. Pinyin (phonetic symbols) will be used as a supplementary tool to learn the spoken language. Students will be asked to recognize either simplified or traditional form characters and will also learn to develop basic conversational abilities such as; pronunciation, fundamental grammatical patterns, common vocabulary. They will build basic reading and writing skills as well. Students will have homework at the end of each class and regular quizzes. There will be a final exam at the end of each semester. This is a graded class and the average semester grade will be part of the student’s GPA. All instructors are native Chinese speakers with many years of experience teaching Mandarin as a foreign language.