Modern and Ancient Languages at Watershed

Language education is one of the many things we do differently at Watershed. This is because we know that historically, traditional high school language programs in the United States do not produce students who are fluent or even proficient in a second language.

Most Americans, when asked whether or not they speak a foreign language, will probably tell you something like “well, I took Spanish in high school, but I can’t speak it”.

Students commonly view language classes as a waste of time, and either do not believe acquisition of a second language is important, or they are convinced that learning can occur only by visiting a country where the language is spoken.  That’s why the Watershed approach is different.

The Watershed way…

  • Class sizes are small, giving each student the opportunity to speak and interact in the target language.
  • Students are encouraged to design a personalized language curriculum, allowing them to focus their study around key countries, topics, and vocabulary that is especially relevant to their language goals.
  • Excellent, college-level textbooks are supplemented by up-to-date videos, podcasts, audio books, newspapers, magazines, literature, and current events articles on relevant topics.
  • Faculty members are available to help students design individualized study abroad and/or language immersion programs.
  • Language classes take full advantage of online opportunities to interact with native speakers and practice using the target language for research and other practical purposes.
  • With four years of language education at Watershed, students are comfortable reading and analyzing articles and literature written by native speakers for native speakers in either Spanish or Latin and are capable of researching and writing about any topic using all foreign language sources.
  • Students will also be prepared to take both the SAT subject tests and Advanced Placement Exams in their target language if they so choose.

Why learn a language?

Students in Modern and Ancient Language programs have tended to demonstrate greater cognitive development, creativity, and divergent thinking than monolingual children. Several studies show that people who are competent in more than one language outscore those who are speakers of only one language on tests of verbal and nonverbal intelligence.

Learning languages provides connections to bodies of knowledge and research sources that are otherwise not available.

Many colleges require students to take two years of a foreign language and taking more than two years shows admissions officers that a student is willing to go beyond the basics.

Competency in a foreign language strengthens cultural understanding and opens up significant employment opportunities.


Advanced Latin

Advanced Latin

Heather Wyman

Fall 2014

Watershed School

Course Description:

Advanced Latin provides the student who has completed Latin III the opportunity to concentrate their studies on a specific subject area of the Latin language, identified in consultation with the instructor.  This year, our focus of study will be the Roman elegiac poets: Catullus, Propertius, Tibullus, and Ovid.  We will translate original poems by each of these authors, exploring the evolution of the form and substance of poems written in the meter of the elegiac couplet.  The Essential Questions we will address and refine in this course are: What is the definition of “elegy”?  To what extent has this definition changed over time?  How does the structure of a poem inform its meaning?

Course Materials:

Aronson, Andrew C. Catullus and Horace: Selections from Their Lyric Poetry

Harrington, Karl Pomeroy. The Roman Elegiac Poets

Platnauer, Maurice. Latin Elegiac Verse: A Study of the Metrical Usages of Tibullus, Propertius, and Ovid

Foundational Skills addressed:

1. Reading

  1. adjusts approach to reading based on purpose and text

  2. forms a comprehensive summary of information gained from reading


2. Writing

A.Competence in expository writing at the level of the:

  1. word (word choice, tone);

  2. sentence (clarity, conciseness, rhetorical technique, grammar/punctuation);

  3. paragraph (thesis development, summarizing, sequence, integrating information)

  4. writing form (audience, frame, topic choice, form-specific conventions)

8. Information Gathering and Analysis

  1. question formulation (produce, refine, prioritize)

  2. effective note-taking (during presentations and reading)

  3. information research using internet or library sources: primary sources, databases, maps, journals, websites

  4. informational interviews

  5. evaluation of information including strategies for critiquing historical, scientific, quantitative and other categories of information

Students in Advanced Latin will practice and develop their reading, writing, and research skills by translating Latin poetry.  Successful translation will require students to access and utilize appropriate resources, such as online and print dictionaries and editorial notes or commentaries.  Students will answer written and discussion questions designed to gauge comprehension of both the literal translation and figurative meaning of the poems we read.  Throughout the course, students will write both long and short English analytical and interpretive essays.  In their writing, students will learn to cite specific Latin words or phrases accurately, identify significant metrical patterns, and reference poetic devices employed in each poem.