St. Anselm’s Abbey School

A Catholic, Benedictine School for Boys Grades 6 - 12

Academic Excellence

75 years of rigorous, classical education

Modern Languages

Our Modern Language curriculum focuses on listening, speaking, reading, and writing; after 4 years students reach proficiency to understand films in the target language, read books and report on their content, and carry on conversations on most topics.

Department Overview

Our program begins with an introductory level course in Middle School and proceed to more advanced levels of proficiency in Upper School.

Modern Language Association standards for cultural enrichment are emphasized so that students not only learn the language but can understand cultural nuances inherent in the countries that share the language. At each level, students are tested to assure that national achievement criteria are met and in most cases exceeded. Students in Forms V or VI can take the AP Language Exam and obtain either college credit, have the language requirement waved or can proceed to an advanced level course in college.

In Forms II, III, and V and VI we offer Arabic language classes. The focus is on teaching the alphabet and introductory level grammar and vocabulary. In the two year program, students learn to read, write, speak and understand basic Arabic. The level of proficiency attained has been such that students have won State Department Fellowships to study abroad.

Curriculum Sequence

Form A
None; Focus on English Grammar and Composition
Form I
None; Focus on first year of Latin
Form II
Spanish I; French I; or Arabic I
Form III
Spanish II or Transfer Spanish I; French I or II; or Arabic II
Form IV
Spanish III or Transfer Spanish II; French II or III; or Arabic III
Forms V & VI
Spanish IV or AP Spanish; French III, French IV or
AP French; or Arabic IV

Course Descriptions

Spanish 1 / Transfer Spanish 1*

This is a beginning class where students are taught standard Spanish grammar and vocabulary with particular emphasis on integrating the four basic language skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The course introduces beginning level vocabulary, verbs and grammar by means of dialogs, conversations and readings. Students will be introduced to the Hispanic countries and their cultures.

Course Length: All Year.

Registration Policy: Spanish 1 fulfills Modern Language requirement for Form II.

* Transfer Spanish 1 fulfills Modern Language requirement for new Form III /IV students.

Spanish 2 / Transfer Spanish 2*

This course continues the Spanish language acquisition began in Spanish I. More complex grammatical structures and vocabulary are presented. Students are expected to be able to express themselves on a range of everyday topics in the present, past and future. Students also learn to express opinions and give recommendations in the subjunctive mood. Students are presented with a more in-depth knowledge of Spanish-speaking culture. Spanish is the primary language spoken in class.

Course Length: All Year.

Registration Policy: Spanish 2 fulfills Modern Language requirement for Form III.

*Transfer Spanish 2 fulfills Modern Language requirement for Form IV/V transfer students Prerequisite: Spanish 1 or departmental approval.

Spanish 3

This intermediate-level course is designed to review and refine the four basic skills emphasized in the introductory courses. More advanced grammatical structures and abstract vocabulary relating to basic political, social, and ecological themes are presented. Students are exposed to extracts of Spanish literature and short authentic articles from periodical literature. The class is conducted in Spanish. Qualifying students are sponsored to become part of The Spanish National Honor Society.

Course Length: All Year.

Registration Policy: Spanish 3 fulfills Modern Language requirement for Form IV & Form V/VI transfer students.

Prerequisite: Spanish 2 or placement test and departmental approval.

Spanish 4

The class focuses on building and reinforce listening and speaking skills. Students will also learn more about the culture of Spanish-speaking countries and Hispanic literature through selections written by different writers. Grammar will be reinforced through compositions and activities; verbal skills will continue to develop through class discussions and exams. This class is taught in Spanish. Qualifying students are sponsored to become part of The Spanish National Honor Society.

Course Length: All Year.

Registration Policy: Fulfills Modern Language requirement for Form V or VI. Prerequisite: Spanish 3 or placement test and departmental approval.

AP Spanish Language and Culture

This course will prepare the student for the AP Spanish Language and Culture examination. Students will be expected to integrate and synthesize their language skills to a level of general competency and fluency in the areas of speaking, listening, reading and writing. The course will include a general review of grammar, readings from newspapers, short stories, literary selections plus movies and audio-recordings in the target language. Qualifying students are sponsored to become part of The Spanish National Honor Society.

Course Length: All Year.

Registration Policy: Fulfills Modern Language requirement for Form V or VI.

Prerequisite: 85% or higher grade in the previous Spanish class taken or departmental approval.

Spanish Literature and Culture

Fall Semester

Through authentic readings, videos, and class discussions in the target language, students are introduced to the formal study of Peninsular Spanish, Latin American, and U.S. Hispanic literature. Spanish Literature and Culture is a one-semester course that aims to develop students’ critical reading and analytical writing skills in Spanish. This class will be conducted entirely in Spanish appropriate to this level and covers the entire official AP Spanish Literature and Culture reading list. Qualifying students are sponsored to become part of The Spanish National Honor Society. This course serves as the prerequisite for AP Spanish Literature.

Course Length: One semester.

Registration Policy: Elective for Forms V and VI.

Prerequisite: AP Spanish Language and Culture or placement test and departmental approval.

Spanish Literature and Culture + AP Option

Spring Semester

AP Spanish Literature and Culture is the second part of a two-semester course designed to introduce students to the formal study of Peninsular Spanish, Latin American, and U.S. Hispanic literature. The course aims to develop students’ critical reading and analytical writing skills in Spanish as well as their ability to make interdisciplinary connections. The class is conducted entirely in Spanish and uses the official AP Spanish and Culture reading list. Qualifying students are sponsored to become part of The Spanish National Honor Society.

AP Option: Taken in sequence with the prerequisite course Spanish Literature and Culture - Fall Semester, this course satisfies the requirements for Advanced Placement, and the students will be required to take the AP Spanish Literature and Culture exam. Without the prerequisite, the student will receive credit for Spanish Literature and Culture without the AP designation.

Students will be able to:

1.Improve written and oral expression in Spanish and expand vocabulary.

2.Identify different literary periods and movements in Spanish and Latin American Literature in relation to historical and cultural periods.

3.Compare and contrast how representative authors from Spanish-speaking countries employ different literary genres.

4.Write reaction papers using technical terminology in the analysis of different types of narratives, such as poetry, short stories, plays and novels.

5.Present critical analyses of works of literature.

Course Length: One semester.

Registration Policy: Elective for Forms V and VI.

Prerequisite: Spanish Literature and Culture - Fall Semester or AP Spanish Language and Culture or placement test and departmental approval.

French I

French I is the introductory-level course in a multi-level curriculum. Students are taught standard French grammar and vocabulary with particular emphasis on integrating the four basic language skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. We cover one lesson approximately every three weeks, using the textbook T'es branché I


Course Length: All Year
Registration Policy: Fulfills Modern Language requirement for Form I or II

French II

French II is the second half of an introductory course that builds on the skills acquired in French I. More complex grammatical structures and vocabulary are presented. Students are expected to be able to express themselves on a range of everyday topics. Students are presented with a more in-depth knowledge of French-speaking culture. We cover one lesson approximately every two weeks, using the textbook T'es branché II.

Course Length: All Year
Registration Policy: Fulfills Modern Language requirement for Form I or II


French III

French III is an intermediate-level course designed to review and refine the four basic skills emphasized in the introductory courses. More advanced grammatical structures and abstract vocabulary relating to basic political, social, and ecological themes are presented. Students are exposed to extracts of French literature and short authentic articles from periodical literature.

Course Length: All Year
Registration Policy: Fulfills Modern Language requirement for Form I or II

French IV

This is the second part of the intermediate course focusing on grammar, reading and composition skills with an important speaking and listening component. The principal objective of the course is to integrate the communication skills of students in activities that deepen students’ knowledge of French culture and history. By the end of the course, students should achieve competence in some advanced skills and structures.

Course Length: All Year
Registration Policy: Fulfills Modern Language requirement for Form V or VI

AP French

This course is designed to prepare students for the AP French Language examination. Students will be expected to raise their language skills to a superior level of proficiency and fluency in the four major skills of reading, writing, speaking, and listening through a variety of authentic readings, videos and audio-recordings. The class will be conducted in French.

Course Length: All Year
Registration Policy: Fulfills Modern Language requirement for Form V or VI

Arabic I

This class is an introduction to reading, writing, and speaking contemporary, communicative Arabic based on the ACTFL proficiency standards. This class meets daily and focuses on Egyptian colloquial as a window to understanding authentic language use. By the end of the year, students at this level are able to read and write the characters of the Arabic alphabet, recognize Indo-Arabic numerals, understand isolated words in context, communicate with common phrases, read learned words and phrases in context, transcribe familiar words into Arabic, understand and participate in basic conversations, recognize the main features of the Arabic language, setup a computer to type in Arabic and type sentences, recognize common forms of transliterating Arabic into English, and discuss historical and cultural items of interest. Possible projects include: Typing challenges, map of the Arab world, exploring culture snapshots: literature, artistic expression, famous individuals, recitation of Arabic poetry, sequencing of important historical events, math in Arabic, cooking in Arabic, Arabic in DC - getting to know how Arabic fits into our own community.

Course Length: All Year
Registration Policy: Fulfills Modern Language requirement for Form II students

Arabic II

This course is a continuation of the foundation built in Arabic I. Students will progress from basic skills with Arabic alphabet and isolated words to develop an understanding of full phrases and the ability to articulate thoughts in both speech and writing. Studies of the geography, history, and culture surrounding the Arabic language and its dialects will continue.

Course Length: All Year
Registration Policy: Fulfills Modern Language requirement for Form III students

Arabic III

This course will continue the study of Modern Standard Arabic. The focus will continue to be on reading, speaking, listening and writing as well as select aspects of the culture of the Arab speaking world.

Course Length: All Year
Registration Policy: Elective for Form V or VI

Arabic IV

This course will present textbook-based instruction, “Al-kitaab” but also branches out to include more supplemental materials from literary sources (prose and poetry) and broadcast and print media. Emphasis continues to be on all four language skills: Speaking, Listening, Reading, & Writing.

Concentration is placed on delivering presentations, arguing one’s viewpoint, watching Arabic TV programs, and enhancing one’s ability to maintain extended discourse and accurately using idiomatic expressions.

During this course, we will examine different genres from sources other than “Al-kitaab”. Examples include short stories, contemporary poetry. An emphasis will be given to media news both written and visual.

All Grammatical concepts discussed through classes will be demonstrated in the students' writing assignments.

Language of instruction and conversation in class will be almost entirely in Arabic.

Course Length: All Year
Registration Policy: Prerequisite: Arabic I; Elective for Form VI

Modern Languages Faculty
Dr. Larry Joseph, Department Chair
French I, II, and III; AP French
Ph.D., Slavic Languages and Literature, Stanford University
M.A., Slavic Languages and Literature, Stanford University
B.A., Slavic Languages and Literature, University of California, Berkeley
ljoseph@saintanselms.org
Mr. Kyle Bellows
Arabic II and III; French III
M.A., University of Chicago
B.A., Vassar College
kbellows@saintanselms.org
Dr. Charles Downey
French IV
Ph.D., Music History, Catholic University of America
M.A., Music History, Catholic University of America
B.Mus., Piano, Michigan State University
cdowney@saintanselms.org

Mr. Abdel Gubartalla
Arabic I, II, III, and IV
B.A., International Relations and French, Hiram College
agubartalla@saintanselms.org

Ms. Dana Helfenbein
Spanish I, II, IV
B.A., Spanish, Arabic, Middle Eastern/North African Studies, University of Arizona
dhelfenbein@saintanselms.org

Mrs. Melissa Montoya
Spanish II, III, & AP Spanish
M.A., Spanish Language and Literature, University of Missouri - Kansas City
B.S. Communications, University San Martin de Porres, Lima, Peru
mmontoya@saintanselms.org

Br. Matthew Nylund, OSB
Spanish I and II
B.A., History, Fordham University
mainoffice@saintanselms.org