Each of the languages is introduced as key to the aesthetics, beliefs, customs, and viewpoints of a different world. Connecting intimately with studies in literature, poetry, history, and theatre, our language program ensures that students are graduated having journeyed far and wide across the three thousand years that separate us from the origins of the western tradition: knowledge of Latin makes them at home in classical antiquity; the study of French opens doors not only to present-day Europe, but also, just as importantly, to a treasure-trove of classical western literature. Superimposing study of French onto the study of Latin allows our students insight into the historical undercurrents pulsating across millennia in western texts and speech. They are enabled to discern how Latin influenced and continues to influence Romance languages (as well as English), and how, while emulating the Latin works, French (and English) created its own, very different aesthetic canon.
All MLCA students begin French in kindergarten. In the younger grades, French classes focus on conversation, grammar acquisition, reading increasingly complex short stories and poems, and reciting French songs. Beginning in fourth grade students begin to progress toward more serious French literature, starting with adapted works of Dumas and Jules Verne and progressing to original French prose and poetry (e.g., Moliere, Maupassant, Zola, Pennac). Starting in 4th grade, students begin preparing for and taking annually the international French DELF exam.
All MLCA students begin Latin in fourth grade. Our Latin curriculum aims to impart to students thorough knowledge of Latin grammar, syntax, and vocabulary as well as an understanding of the unique aesthetics and worldview inherent to the Latin language. Students gain appreciation of how the ancient Roman worldview, so different from our modern one, is engrained in the Latin language: thus for example, Roman notions of time, space, gender, probability, and even color are fundamentally different from ours. Ultimately, the MLCA Latin program is founded on the belief that a language, when mastered properly (i.e., with thorough knowledge of grammar), is the best kind of time machine—a magic device that transports the student to a culture far removed in space and time. By the middle of seventh grade, students are ready to progress towards authentic ancient Roman prose and poetry. All MLCA students grades 6 and up compete annually in the National Latin Exam.