Falmouth Academy’s commitment to a rigorous foreign language program and graduation requirement stems from the belief that responsible education must nurture young people’s awareness of themselves as part of a global community. Our goal is to help students attain a level of fluency which allows them to learn about other cultures directly, through their languages, so that they can enjoy reading, travel, and friendships in their second language while deepening their understanding of the world we live in.
Why French and German
We offer six-year programs in the two major “source languages” from which our own language is derived: French and German. Our choice of French and German reflects the importance of these two cultures in our own linguistic and cultural heritage, as well as the rich connections between the history and literature of those countries and FA students’ course work in other disciplines. Exploration of German-speaking countries (Germany, Switzerland and Austria) and the French-speaking world (Europe, Africa, Canada and the Caribbean) through films and literature fosters our students’ broadening of their cultural and historical perspective. See a video of a play produced in German IB.
Language immersion: understanding and speaking
Students learn in “immersion” classes taught by fluent French- or German-speaking teachers, many of whom are native speakers, and all of whom have lived and studied in France or Germany. Small classes conducted in the target language foster oral communication—listening and speaking—from the first day, when students learn to introduce themselves and greet each other in French or German. By junior and senior year, classes are discussion-based, as students exchange ideas, in French or German, on newspaper articles, short stories, novels, poetry, plays and films that they read or see in their second language.
Writing in a foreign language
Falmouth Academy’s emphasis on writing is reflected in the progressive development of writing skills in foreign language study. From the beginning, writing assignments reinforce students’ learning and train them to express themselves in coherent, complete sentences. Younger students may write and perform skits using the vocabulary and grammar they are learning, while upperclassmen write short stories, fairy tales, thematic essays and textual analyses.
Connections: partnerships, exchange programs, study abroad
The Foreign Language Department reinforces the practical importance of proficiency in a foreign language through group exchanges with high schools in Nice, France and Heidelberg, Germany. These exchanges give FA students the opportunity to use their second language as they host and visit French or German partners, attend school with them, and live with their families. Group excursions allow them to explore museums, historic sights, industries and markets in the region surrounding our partner schools. Check out photos from the 2013 German Exchange in Heidelberg.
A significant number of our students have chosen to spend a semester or a full year attending school abroad, usually in a German or French-speaking country. In addition, Falmouth Academy annually hosts full-year exchange students who have come to us from countries as far flung as Nepal, Norway, Slovakia, Russia, Japan and Hungary. All of these efforts help Falmouth Academy students connect directly and meaningfully with the global community.