An Independent School • Grades 5-12


We believe that the ability to communicate across cultures is an essential part of being a global citizen. Lakeside offers four languages – Chinese, French, Latin, and Spanish – at both the Middle and Upper schools; our dynamic courses emphasize immersion in languages and cultures around the world.

Students collaborate with their peers, teachers, and members of the larger community, and use video, podcasts, interactive Web-based software, and even good old-fashioned letter writing, on projects that increase their written and spoken abilities as well as their cultural competency. The majority of our students are enthusiastic language learners who choose to go beyond the two years of Upper School study that are required for graduation.

Middle School: Instilling a love of language

Our Middle School language program is designed to instill a love of language and an appreciation for the cultures from which it springs. Students engage in a wide range of energetic activities and games designed to make learning fun, with the goal of students being able to write and speak effectively in that language. Our program is unique at the Middle School because students from multiple grades can be placed in one class, which promotes friendships across grades.

Students choose one of the four languages to study throughout their Middle School years. Students hear little to no English from their first day in French, Spanish, or Mandarin Chinese (English is spoken in Latin class).

Each language sequence (levels A through D) covers a broad range of geography, history, and culture.

Students may begin a new language when they go into the Upper School. Students continuing their studies in a language enter into levels I or II at the Upper School.

Read more about Lakeside’s Middle School language program in the Middle School curriculum guide.

Upper School: Focusing on the ability to speak and use language

Lakeside Upper School’s modern language program – Mandarin Chinese, French, and Spanish – focuses on the ability to speak and use the language. Spanish and French classes are fully immersive from day one; no English is spoken and students quickly adapt to the immersion experience. In beginning Chinese, the emphasis is on speaking and understanding Mandarin. Students learn to read and write Chinese characters, and classes work toward speaking only Chinese midway through Chinese II. In Latin, classes are conducted in both English and Latin; students read original Latin sources from the first day.

Every November, Spanish III students create a Day of the Dead altar that honors a deceased relative and their impact on the student’s family.

In all our language classes, students learn to read, interpret, and analyze a variety of texts and media, both historical and modern.

Teachers expose students to the diverse cultures that use the languages in order to enhance global awareness and understanding.

To graduate, students must complete at least two sequential years in a single language at Lakeside Upper School – one of which must be level III or higher. With departmental permission, students may also meet the requirement by completing level II of two languages. Lakeside does not offer Advanced Placement (AP) courses, but students who complete level IV generally score well on the AP language and culture exams.

Read more about Lakeside’s Upper School language courses in the Upper School curriculum guide.

Learn more about languages at Lakeside

Upper School French: Real learning

Picture books that create opportunities for student learning

Study Away

Lakeside Upper School students have the option of studying off campus during one or two semesters of their junior year.

Meet the languages faculty