World Languages

The ‘Iolani World Language Department provides sequences in five languages: Chinese, French, Japanese, Latin and Spanish. Students may begin language study at grade 7 or 9.

The objective of the courses is to teach students to understand, speak, read, and write the language they are studying, and to introduce them to another culture. Except for Latin, the target language is used in the classroom; liberal use is made of audio-visual and multi-media materials. Study through levels IV and V may earn advanced placement (AP) credit in college in all languages.

Chinese introduces the students to Mandarin through the "5Cs" principles of the National Standards for Foreign Language Education - Communication, Culture, Comparison, Connections and Communities. The objective is to help students develop their communicative competence in listening, speaking, reading, and writing as well as learning technology applications of the 21st century. Concerns move from early attention to pronunciation, intonation, vocabulary, and grammar, through concentrated work in spoken Chinese, to increased emphasis on reading comprehension and the writing of Chinese. The sequence ends with A.P. Chinese Language and Culture and/or an honors course at level V, both of which are conducted mainly in Chinese.

French builds students' proficiency through communication and immersion in an authentic cultural context. Class interaction, textbook instruction, and online exercises are keys to students' success. In Levels I though III, students master the syntax and style needed to read, write, hear and speak French with accuracy and fluency. From Level II, students are placed in regular or honors sections. At Level IV, students learn advanced grammar through analysis of literary and historical texts. French V gives students the opportunity to increase their historical background in order to better understand contemporary French culture. The AP French Language and Culture course may be taken after Level III or IV. The AP French course is designed to further students' knowledge of the language and culture of France and the Francophone world. Students at all levels are encouraged to participate in the French National Contest each year.

Japanese begins with elementary conversational forms and everyday vocabulary and progresses to technical vocabulary and honorific speech appropriate to business dealings in real life. In the written language, Hiragana and Katakana are covered in the first year, and Kanji of increasing difficulty is introduced at level II. Calligraphy (brush writing) is introduced in Japanese III. Lessons are regularly reinforced through cultural presentations by the students, teachers, or guest lecturers. Japanese IV and V are conducted in Japanese. AP Japanese Language and Culture consolidates Japanese learned at earlier levels and molds the language into a viable asset which may prove useful to students in their future endeavors. Kanji used in the real world is introduced via authentic materials; in general, holistic language learning is the focus of the course.

Latin develops an increased English vocabulary and greater precision and variety in English composition. Latin I covers the fundamentals of the language in forms, syntax and reading exercises. Latin II reviews the fundamentals and intensifies the reading, spending most of the second semester on Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic Wars. One lesson a week is devoted to Latin composition to reinforce the modes of expression and patterns of phrasing. That practice continues in Latin III in which the emphasis is on the writings of Cicero; the poetry of Ovid is introduced in the spring term.  Latin IV (AP Latin) covers selections from Vergil and Caesar. Latin VH focuses on Latin Lyric poetry. Students take the National Latin Exam annually.

Spanish gives students a working command of the language through personal involvement and understanding, incorporating the national content standards for foreign language education in the 21st century in the curriculum, with emphasis on the use of Spanish for practical communication to prepare students to live in a global world. The program uses diverse materials such as texts, e-texts, workbooks, films and the Internet to expose students to authentic materials.   Technology also plays an integral role in instruction and learning. From level II on, the students divide into regular and accelerated sections. Spanish 5 Honors, Advanced Placement Spanish Language & Culture and Advanced Placement Spanish Literature may be taken in the fourth or fifth year. Students may elect to take the National Spanish Exam annually.

Language clubs with different age levels allow students to pursue further knowledge of Chinese, French, Japanese, Latin and Spanish.  Other clubs dedicated to foreign cultures enhance students’ awareness of their own culture and their appreciation of other cultures.


"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