Modern Language » Modern Language

Modern Language


The Modern Language Department at Rochelle Zell Jewish High School offers a challenging, college preparatory program designed to develop students’ speaking, listening, reading, writing in Hebrew and Spanish. The program also enhances students’ appreciation and understanding of Israeli and Hispanic cultures.


Classes in both languages emphasize paired and group activities, which encourage the active use of the target language. Daily written homework reinforces the grammatical structures and vocabulary taught in class. Oral presentations (both prepared and spontaneous) increase students’ listening comprehension and speaking proficiency



The Hebrew language program is a four-year graduation requirement that offers courses at nine levels ranging from beginning to advanced.  Students entering Rochelle Zell from a Hebrew day school are placed into the appropriate level by their eighth grade Hebrew teachers. Students entering Rochelle Zell from all other junior high schools take a Hebrew placement test.


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.
  • Read a paragraph of information or a description and a story or folktale.
  • Listen to and comprehend a short dialogue about daily life; comprehend and summarize a short informative lecture.


The Advanced Beginner’s will be able to:

Speak in dialogues about school, family, entertainment, places, the weather or personal preferences.

Participate in an interview in which they ask and answer questions.

Express an opinion and support that opinion.

Write short notes and a personal letter.

Read and comprehend an informative paragraph or a short story.

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 students will be able to:

  • Speak in conversations using specific topical vocabulary.
  • Read magazine articles and short stories adapted to elementary Hebrew.
  • Write personal narratives.
  • Listen to and have a general understanding of simple TV or radio news.
  • Listen to and comprehend dialogues in standard Hebrew.


Advanced level students will be able to: 

  • Speak with their peers and teacher using topical vocabulary.
  • Prepare and deliver a Powerpoint or video presentation in Hebrew.
  • Read and comprehend a literary work, newspaper and magazine articles in their original form.
  • Write in standard Modern Hebrew in various forms of communication.
  • Listen to and comprehend most components of a conversation on any topic.


Spanish Elective 

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 more 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 language skills: listening comprehension, speaking, reading, writing and cultural awareness. Class materials include newspaper and magazine articles, short stories, a short novel, essays, poems, movies, songs and videos. The College Board provides topical themes for the course.  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.


Did You Know?

  • All language classes at Rochelle Zell incorporate the five language learning skills: listening, 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 college entrance language requirements.
  • The Hebrew program at Rochelle Zell is a sequential curriculum that incorporates challenging and engaging materials.
  • Our Hebrew teachers have received professional development training and as a result have prepared units of instruction for each level in our Hebrew program.
  • 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. Twenty-two countries in the world 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 allows them to take coursework at advanced levels.

"RZJHS's understanding teachers and supportive community foster a collaborative environment which ensures each student's success." - Gaby E., '18