Foreign Language

Rachael N. Umbrianna, M.Ed., CAGS
Coordinator of Foreign Languages 6-12

Machu Piccu

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

Welcome Message & Department Philosophy

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.
‒Nelson Mandela

Welcome to the Foreign Language Department. We believe that if you can learn your own language, you can learn another language! The philosophy of the department reflects the ACTFL World-Readiness Standards for Foreign Language Learning, the Guiding Principles of the Revised Foreign Languages Curriculum Framework of Massachusetts of 1999, and alignment with the Common Core State Standards (http:/// and Students will acquire skills that will be assessed through the ACTFL/NCCSFL Can Do Statement Guide.

The department endeavors to promote excellence in teaching and learning foreign languages, provide multiple learning opportunities in a variety of foreign languages, both modern and classical, and encourages students to become lifelong learners of foreign languages and cultures while adopting a global view and understanding of the world. Grades 6-12 sequencing, along with IB (International Baccalaureate), AP (Advanced Placement), Medical Interpretation and Translation (MITP) and the Foreign Language Honor Societies provide a means for students to achieve fluency in a second language. Fluency is acquired through active and purposeful participation in all foreign language related activities in and out of the classroom.

The limits of my language are the limits of my world.
‒Ludwig Wittgenstein

The primary goal of modern foreign language study is communicative proficiency. The primary goal of the classical foreign language program is to connect and interact with the minds and culture of the ancient worlds through, reading, translating and discussing ideas. Foreign Language study integrates the study of languages with the study of the cultures in which the languages are used and connects with all other disciplines through literature, art, music, mathematics, and scientific discoveries and contributions. Second language acquisition is most effective when started at an early age, but all students benefit from reading, writing and conversing in at least one language in addition to their first language. These goals are addressed through interpersonal, interpretive and presentational modes. Students who study foreign languages will learn to communicate through practice and presentation in reading, writing, listening, speaking and reasoning through thematic units of study that encourage a deep understanding of the target language structures and culture.

Why Study Foreign Language

Why Study Foreign Languages?

According to the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL), there are many benefits to studying another language. Students who study even one year of foreign languages:

  • Score up to 250 points higher on SATs
  • Have larger vocabularies
  • Have higher developed listening and retention skills
  • Perform better on tests of reading and math
  • Demonstrate enhanced creativity
  • Display more highly developed thinking skills
  • Perform better on measures of verbal and non-verbal intelligence than their monolingual peers
  • Experience positive overall effect on mental development and intellectual growth
  • Improve understanding of their native tongue
  • Develop greater cultural flexibility and sensitivity towards others
  • Possess skills critical to national defense
  • Possess skills critical to the national economy
  • Are better able to compete in a global economy
  • Enjoy a competitive edge in college admissions
  • Enjoy enhanced employment opportunities
  • Enjoy competitive salaries

Career Choices

There are many career choices available to multilingual workers. This list is by no means exhaustive: Doctor, nurse, medical technician, medical records keeper, translator, interpreter, lawyer, judge, law enforcement officer/worker, diplomatic core, business, teaching, technology, research, military, industry, social services, marketing, hotel and restaurant service and management, travel and tourism, multiple service industries, engineering, telecommunications, all sciences, journalism, etc.

You can never understand one language until you understand at least two.
‒Geoffrey Williams

The Successful Foreign Language Student

  • Attends classes every day
  • Exhibits appropriate learning behaviors
  • Remains on task and engaged during class
  • Interacts with the language and culture in a positive way
  • Practices good study and organizational skills,
  • Completes homework every day
  • Is willing to take risks to practice and use the language
  • Has a high interest in the language and culture of other peoples
  • Is curious and flexible

Program Offerings

Students in the Brockton Public Schools may choose to study Chinese, Latin or Spanish at the middle/K-8 schools, beginning in grades 6 or 7, as well as at Brockton High School in grades 9-11. Levels range from CP to Honors and years 1 through 5, International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP). Students with advanced foreign and/or native language skills, as well as English, may be eligible to enroll in the Medical Interpretation and Translation Program in French/Haitian Creole, Portuguese/Cape Verdean Creole or Spanish. In addition to a variety of course options available for study, there are language specific club activities offered at Brockton High School. Students should view their Student Handbooks and talk with their foreign language teacher in order to pursue these offerings. Students who meet the criteria, may be invited to join the Foreign Language Honor Societies. The purpose of the societies is to recognize high achievement of high school students in their pursuit of acquiring a second language, and to promote a continuing interest in foreign language studies.

We expect students to access technology in order to be prepared for college and careers. Students may use the IRCs in their respective schools, a public library or their own personal computers at home. Personal devices may be accessed during class time at the discretion of the teacher.

To have another language is to possess a second soul.

The philosophy of the Foreign Language Department of the Brockton Public Schools reflects the Guiding Principles of the revised Massachusetts World Languages Curriculum Frameworks of 1999 and Common Core State Standards Frameworks, as well as the ACTFL World-Readiness Standards for Foreign Language Learning. We believe that:

  • The primary goal of a modern Foreign Languages program is communicative proficiency. The primary goal of the classical foreign language program is to interact with the ancient minds through reading comprehension and translation.
  • Foreign Language study integrates the study of languages with the study of the cultures in which the languages are used.
  • Foreign Language study connects with all other disciplines.
  • Foreign Language study is most effective when started at an early age, but all students benefit from reading, writing, and conversing in at least one language in addition to their first language.

The program goals are to:

  • Promote excellence in the teaching and learning of foreign languages.
  • Provide learning opportunities in a variety of foreign languages, both modern and classical.
  • Encourage students to become lifelong learners of foreign languages and cultures.
  • Encourage students to adopt a global view and understanding of the world
  • Implement the Massachusetts Foreign Languages Curriculum Frameworks and align with the Common Core State Standards Frameworks.

By focusing on the five Foreign Languages content strands of Communication, Culture, Comparisons, Connections and Communities, students learn to communicate in a new language and use it to gain understanding of people and cultures. Students practice communication through interpersonal, interpretive and presentational modes. In addition, students learn to use the language to acquire knowledge in other disciplines, and to participate in local and international communities. The Massachusetts Foreign Languages Curriculum Frameworks define four stages of proficiency:

  • Stage 1, in which students use single words and common phrases and expressions
  • Stage 2, in which students use sentences and other recombination of words and phrases
  • Stage 3, in which students use sentences and paragraph-length messages
  • Stage 4, in which students use sentences, paragraph-length and essay-length messages

ACTFL 2014 World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages


Communicate effectively in more than one language in order to function in a variety of situations and for multiple purposes

Interpersonal Communication: Learners interact and negotiate meaning in spoken, signed, or written conversations to share information, reactions, feelings, and opinions.

Interpretive Communication: Learners understand, interpret, and analyze what is heard, read, or viewed on a variety of topics.

Presentational Communication: Learners present information, concepts, and ideas to inform, explain, persuade, and narrate on a variety of topics using appropriate media and adapting to various audiences of listeners, readers, or viewers.


Interact with cultural competence and understanding

Relating Cultural Practices to Perspectives: Learners use the language to investigate, explain, and reflect on the relationship between the practices and perspectives of the cultures studied.

Relating Cultural Products to Perspectives: Learners use the language to investigate, explain, and reflect on the relationship between the products and perspectives of the cultures studied.


Connect with other disciplines and acquire information and diverse perspectives in order to use the language to function in academic and career-related situations

Making Connections: Learners build, reinforce, and expand their knowledge of other disciplines while using the language to develop critical thinking and to solve problems creatively.

Acquiring Information and Diverse Perspectives: Learners access and evaluate information and diverse perspectives that are available through the language and its cultures.


Develop insight into the nature of language and culture in order to interact with cultural competence

Language Comparisons: Learners use the language to investigate, explain, and reflect on the nature of language through comparisons of the language studied and their own.

Cultural Comparisons: Learners use the language to investigate, explain, and reflect on the concept of culture through comparisons of the cultures studied and their own.


Communicate and interact with cultural competence in order to participate in multilingual communities at home and around the world

School and Global Communities: Learners use the language both within and beyond the classroom to interact and collaborate in their community and the globalized world.

Lifelong Learning: Learners set goals and reflect on their progress in using languages for enjoyment, enrichment, and advancement.

See more at:

Best Practices

Foreign Languages Best Practices and Characteristics of Effective Foreign Language Instruction

The following are best practice strategies which the Foreign Language Department strives to implement. These characteristics are based on the National Association for District Supervisors of Foreign Languages (NADSFL) recommendations.

  • Teachers will create an immersion situation using 90% target language, even at beginning levels of study, to the extent possible so there is appropriate and frequent use of target language in class on a daily basis with little or no recourse to English
  • The teacher and students communicate purposefully in the target language as listeners, speakers, readers, writers and viewers
  • The teacher sets high expectations for all students, designs assessments, and organizes instruction to engage and motivate all learners according to Bloom’s Taxonomy (see below)
  • Classrooms are student-centered and student-friendly – There is more student activity than teacher activity in most lessons - Student activity includes student to student interactions as well as teacher to student interactions; Students work independently, in pairs, and in groups; Students ask and answer questions and they create with the language
  • Teachers will maintain orderly classrooms so that students remain focused and engaged on language-related learning activities
  • Teachers encourage students to take risks as language learners because the learning environment is positive and supportive
  • When error correction is appropriate, students are given opportunities, including wait-time to self-correct; teacher correction of students’ errors may be done through follow-up review and re-teaching strategies
  • Assessments are ongoing; Students are assessed formally and informally on how well they are able to meet the objectives of the lesson; Continuous self-assessments for students and teachers are encouraged
  • Students use language specific learning strategies and are encouraged to assess their own progress
  • Teachers integrate development of the three modes of communication (interpersonal, interpretive and presentational) with formal and informal aspects of culture, the Common Core State Standards, and the Massachusetts Curriculum Standards. Culture is a natural component of language use in all activities
  • Non-judgmental comparisons and contrasts between native and target languages and cultures and teachers will encourage students to develop and demonstrate positive attitudes toward cultural diversity in the learning environment as well
  • Lessons are designed and scaffolded to accommodate differences in learning styles and appropriate to a particular lesson; All students are guided to use all levels of thinking skills, e.g., they repeat, recognize and recall as well as apply, create, and predict
  • The physical environment, including displays of student work, is instructional, motivational, and informative
  • Emphasis is on learning and using vocabulary and structures in context; Students and teachers use a variety of print and non-print materials including authentic target language sources
  • Technology, as appropriate and available, is used often by students and teachers to facilitate learning and teaching; Use of electronic devices permitted per teacher discretion
  • Departmental rubrics are used
  • Content based open response and graphing activities are based on target language and culture

** NOTE: Listening, speaking, and authentic non-print materials are emphasized, but to a lesser degree, in Latin and Classical Greek Instruction. Instruction in the Classical languages emphasizes reading and translating.

Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy


Generating new ideas, products or ways of viewing things

Designing, constructing, planning, producing, inventing

**Choose, combine, compose, construct, create, design, develop, do , formulate, hypothesize, invent, make, make up, originate, organize, plan, produce, role play, tell,


Justifying a decision or course of action

Checking, hypothesizing, critiquing, experimenting, judging

Appraise, judge, criticize, defend, compare, compare and contrast


Breaking information into parts to explore understandings and relationships

Comparing, organizing, deconstructing, interrogating, finding

Analyze, categorize, classify, compare, differentiate, distinguish, identify, infer, point out, select, subdivide, survey


Using information in another familiar situation

Implementing, carrying out, using, executing

Apply, choose, dramatize, explain, generalize, judge, organize, paint, prepare, produce, select, show, sketch, solve, use


Explaining ideas or concepts

Interpreting, summarizing, paraphrasing, classifying, explaining

Classify, defend, demonstrate, distinguish, explain, express, extend, give example, illustrate, indicate, interrelate, interpret, infer, judge, match, paraphrase, represent, restate, rewrite, select, show, summarize, tell


Recalling information

Recognizing, listing, describing, retrieving, naming, finding

Choose, describe, define, identify, label, list, locate, match, memorize, name, omit, recite, recognize, select, state

Grading Policy

Major Assessments 40 percent of grade

Must include three out of four skills – Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing plus Culture through a variety of modes: Presentational, Interpretive or Interpersonal-Note that some areas may overlap.

  • May include: Integrated Performance based assessments, Traditional tests, Projects/Oral Presentations, Open Response, Reading Diagrams and/or visuals, In Class extended writing assignments/essays
  • Other

Minor Assessments
30 percent of grade

  • In Class Writing Assignments of 1 page (3-5 paragraphs)
  • Discussions
  • Short Vocabulary or Grammar Quizzes
  • Weekly Openers/Closers
  • Short Presentations
  • Note-taking
  • Short In-Class Journals
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Listening/Lab exercises
  • Latin translations/writing
  • Other

Practice 30 percent of grade

  • Openers/Closers (may be graded daily, weekly, or biweekly)
  • Class participation (may be graded daily, weekly, or biweekly)
  • Daily Homework (may be graded daily, weekly or biweekly)
  • Oral Skill Development based on Class Attendance (aligned with BPS Attendance policy)
  • Organization of binder (may be graded daily, weekly, biweekly, monthly or by term/trimester)
  • Extra Credit (**additional academic work if all other work is completed)

Internet Translation Policy

Please note that graded writing assignments will be completed in class.

The use of the Internet to translate student work from English into the target language is a violation of the Brockton High School Disciplinary Code. Using the Internet to translate from English into the target language often results in assignments that are inaccurate and do not make sense. These computer programs do not distinguish linguistic nuance or modern versus archaic language. It is the policy of the Brockton Public Schools Foreign Language Department that internet translations from English to the target language are NOT original student work and therefore are NOT acceptable for use by students on any assignment, including, but not limited to: homework, quizzes, tests, projects and/or writing assignments. Written assignments should be completed directly in the target language using targeted vocabulary and structures that students know from previous and current learning. Online dictionary sites that translate only one or two words are acceptable. All students are expected to do their own work. Students determined to be using internet translations will be subject to the Brockton Public Schools policy on academic dishonesty.

Useful Websites