Modern Language

The Modern Language department at Rochelle Zell Jewish High School offers a challenging, college preparatory program designed to develop students’ ability to speak, listen, read and write with creative and critical expression. The program also aims to enhance students’ appreciation and understanding of the cultures and literatures of the languages being taught. This program encourages sensitivity to cultural differences worldwide. The current curriculum includes Hebrew and Spanish.

There is a large emphasis on paired and group activities to allow students to be actively engaged in their own learning. Daily written homework reinforces the grammatical structures and vocabulary taught in class. Oral presentations, both prepared and spontaneous, are an essential part of all courses. Oral questions increase listening comprehension and speaking proficiency.

The Hebrew language program is a four-year graduation requirement that offers four levels of Hebrew: beginners, advanced beginners, intermediate and advanced. Before entering the program, each student’s level is determined by a placement test.

Rochelle Zell uses the NETA curriculum, which is designed and written by expert Hebrew language teachers and curriculum writers from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Every unit includes texts from classical and modern sources designed to broaden students’ vocabulary and knowledge of the richness of Hebrew culture. Beginning Hebrew is designed for students with very little or no knowledge of Hebrew.

Students who complete this level will be able to:
-Speak in short dialogues about daily life or customs.
-Write a paragraph on a personal topic, a memo and an assertion of opinion.
-Read a paragraph of information or a description and a story or folk tale.
-Listen to and comprehend a short dialogue about daily life; comprehend and summarize a short informative lecture on places, customs, groups of people and social phenomena.

The Advanced Beginner’s level adds a new active vocabulary of 1000 words. Students who complete this level will be able to:

-Speak in dialogues about school, family, entertainment, places, the weather or personal preferences.
-Students will be able to participate in an interview where they will be asking and answering questions while reporting.
-They will also be able to express an opinion and support that opinion with reasons.
-Write short notes, a personal letter and an impersonal letter.
-Read and comprehend an informative paragraph, an opinion supported by reasons, a short story, a simple poem or a few biblical verses.
-Listen to and comprehend a short dialogue about daily life, a simple song and a short informative lecture about modern life, traditions and habits.

The Intermediate level adds an additional new active vocabulary of 1000 words. Students who complete this level will be able to:
-Speak in conversations on any topic.
-Read press releases and articles in journalistic style in elementary Hebrew, short stories partially adapted to elementary Hebrew and have a general comprehension, based on key words, syntactic structures and morphology of poetry, midrashim or biblical verses.
-Write a personal or historical chronological report or a theoretical analysis including methods, results and discussion.
-Listen to and have a general understanding of simple TV or radio news, listen to and comprehend dialogue in standard Hebrew and listen to and comprehend the main ideas of a simple song based on a single hearing

The Advanced level adds an additional new vocabulary of 2000 words. Students who complete this level will be able to:
-Speak in conversations on any topic and give a short lecture on a theoretical topic.
-Read and have an independent comprehension of a literary work in its original form, general news items and short articles in a Hebrew newspaper, classical writings and modern Hebrew poetry.
-Write standard modern Hebrew in various forms of communication.
-Listen to and comprehend most components of a conversation on any topic among native speakers of Hebrew and most of the particulars of a song based on a single hearing.

In Spanish I, students learn the fundamentals of pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar that are essential for understanding, speaking, reading and writing. The vocabulary is organized around conversational topics. Grammar is included as necessary for students to express themselves correctly in their speaking and their writing. Students have the opportunity to study Spanish and Latin American cultural topics as well as topics relevant to Spanish-speaking Americans. As the class progresses, the dialogue gradually moves away from English and shifts more into Spanish.

In Spanish II, students further develop their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills as they explore more complex language tasks. Students increase their knowledge of vocabulary and grammatical structures. They continue to read more complex material and to write short essays. They also continue to enhance their knowledge of the culture of the Spanish-speaking world. Students present short reports, skits and conversations. At this level, Spanish is the primary language spoken in class.

In Spanish III, students review and integrate their knowledge of Spanish. They focus on acquiring knowledge of complex grammatical constructions and advanced vocabulary. Emphasis is also placed on reading short Spanish texts, enhancing writing skills and perfecting oral expression. Students continue to learn about the culture of Spanish-speaking people. They give presentations and complete projects in Spanish in an environment in which only Spanish is spoken.

The Spanish IV AP course is organized thematically and enables students to use a variety of materials to improve their four language skills: comprehension, speaking, reading and writing. Class materials include newspaper and magazine articles, short stories, a short novel, essays, poems, movies, songs and videos. Themes include: men and women, ethical questions, reality and fantasy. Students’ oral presentations and compositions continue to develop in length, complexity and accuracy. In addition, students become familiar with the format of the Spanish language AP exam and the skills necessary to successfully complete the exam. This includes a continued study of complex grammatical structures and vocabulary. The course is conducted entirely in Spanish.

Students can elect to begin their study of Spanish as freshmen and follow a four-year sequence culminating in Spanish IV, Advanced Placement. They can also elect to begin studying Spanish as juniors and follow a two-year sequence.

Most students begin with Spanish I. Our four-year Spanish curriculum is equivalent to that offered in public schools in six or seven years. Therefore, students entering Rochelle Zell as freshmen after having studied Spanish in middle school continue their Spanish studies with the second semester of Spanish I.

Did You Know:
-All language classes at Rochelle Zell incorporate five language skills: understanding, speaking, reading, writing and cultural awareness
-All students at Rochelle Zell study Hebrew all four years.
-Since all students study at least one modern language for four years, they fulfill any and all college entrance language requirements.
-The Hebrew program at Rochelle Zell is a sequential curriculum that incorporates challenging and engaging materials.
-Our Hebrew teachers receive training and the support necessary to be professional language educators.
-Our incoming students are placed in their proper Hebrew level either through a placement test or based on their previous Hebrew course if they come from a school using our curriculum.
-Students can elect to take Spanish in their freshman year and follow a four-year sequence culminating in Spanish 4 Advanced Placement. They can also elect to begin Spanish as juniors and follow a two-year sequence.
-Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the world, after Mandarin Chinese. There are 22 countries in the world that are Spanish-speaking. In addition, Spanish is the “second language” in many parts of the United States.
-Students who have a thorough knowledge of Spanish have a significant advantage when looking for employment, regardless of their chosen profession.
-Most public schools follow a six-year sequence to prepare students for the AP course. Rochelle Zell does so in four years with excellent results.
-Because the vast majority of our students study Hebrew first, those students who elect to study Spanish seem to learn their second foreign language with ease. They have already mastered what is necessary to learn a modern language.
-Our graduates report that when studying abroad or in universities around the country, their language proficiency is recognized in placement by the highest possible levels.

"The turning point in my life was coming to RZJHS because that was when I became a leader. I was empowered by my teachers and I learned how to be a good student. I developed a good work ethic, I took initiative, and I got to shape a lot of things that are still in existence at RZJHS today. I definitely wouldn’t trade my unique experience for anything."

Mollie F. '04

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