World Languages

The World Languages Department offers Chinese, French, and Spanish, from beginning to AP levels, and beyond; Arabic also is offered at levels 1 through 4. All courses, regardless of the language, emphasize the four pillars of language (reading, writing, listening, and speaking) and use both intensive classroom instruction and innovative technology to enhance student learning. The Department offers integrated and sequential programming that allows for instructor autonomy and enhances student learning.

Along with acquisition of vocabulary and the fundamentals of grammar, emphasis is placed on development of cultural awareness and global competence. The World Languages Department capitalizes on the presence of international students and faculty to educate Hill students as global citizens.

The Department uses standardized assessments to measure and track students proficiency and progress in order to augment and inform the traditional classroom instruction. All classes - at all levels - make frequent use of technology, taking full advantage of the language lab, wireless internet projector equipment, iPads, and AppleTVs that are available in every classroom. As a member school, students annually have the opportunity to participate in the School Year Abroad programs which allow fifth form students to spend a year in Beijing, China; Viterbo, Italy; Rennes, France; or Zaragoza, Spain. In addition, in most years, trips to countries where students can practice the target language are offered during the spring break.

World Languages Offered at The Hill:


Arabic | Arabic is a critical language. The Hill's Arabic program begins with a Level 1 introductory course that is intended for students who are new to the language. At Level 2, an honors track is added for those students wishing to accelerate their learning, and the honors track continues at all levels. We currently offer four levels of Arabic. The process of learning Arabic will require critical thinking and creativity, and can help students increase their cognitive abilities. Although the language may seem intimidating, it is rather logical and its grammar is straightforward to learn. The pedagogy and methodology used to teach Arabic at The Hill School is experiential, allowing students to thrive in the language starting in their first year, in an engaging, full-immersion environment.

Arabic Courses

  • Arabic 1
  • Arabic 2
  • Arabic 2 (Honors)
  • Arabic 3 (Honors)
  • Arabic 4 Seminar (College Level) 


Chinese There are many reasons to study Chinese: it is a critical language that will give you a skill set that will distinguish you when applying to colleges or looking for a career; it will open doors to one of the most amazing cultures in human history; it will help you understand and be able to work with nearly a fifth of the population of the world; and it will grow your brain in ways you’ve never dreamed of. If you love history, art or food, if you care about the geopolitics of the 21st century, or if you want to work in science or business, learning Chinese can benefit you greatly.

The Hill School's Chinese program is nationally renowned: for most of its 18 year history it has been a model for other schools to visit; its teachers have sat on national boards and consult for College Board and other organizations; and it is one of only four “Confucius Classrooms” in Pennsylvania. Chinese is an eminently learnable language, and while the writing system is both beautiful and challenging, the grammar is much simpler than many other languages, and the tonal nature of the language engages parts of the brain that non-tonal languages do not. Beyond the practical and career-oriented benefits of learning Chinese, and the social and cultural aspects, the cognitive and meta-cognitive skills that accrue from this learning process are also valuable in many ways.

Chinese Courses

  • Chinese 1
  • Chinese 2
  • Chinese 2 (Honors)
  • Chinese 3
  • Chinese 3 (Honors)
  • Advanced Chinese 4 (Honors)
  • Chinese AP (College Level)
  • Chinese 5: Business and Communication Honors (College Level)


French The French program begins with a Level 1 introductory course that is intended for students who are new to the language. At Level 2, an honors track is added for those students wishing to accelerate their learning, and the honors track continues at all levels. The School requires three years of language study in a single language, and at the conclusion of Level 3, students are prepared to take the SAT-II Subject test in French. With 94% of our students enrolled in a modern language, it is clear that Hill students often exceed the requirement.

Advanced French 4 Honors offers students an opportunity to enhance their communication skills in a way that prepares them for the AP Language course. It is presented as a two-year sequence, is arranged thematically, and allows for some grammar review. French 4 AP Language prepares students for the College Board examination. French 5 Senior Seminar is offered to students of native, or near native ability who wish to continue their study of French with a concentration on literature.

French Courses

  • French 1
  • French 2
  • French 2 (Honors)
  • French 3
  • French 3 (Honors)
  • Advanced French 4A (Honors) and Advanced French 4B (Honors)
  • French AP (College Level)
  • Senior French Seminar (College Level)
  • French 6 (College Level)


Spanish The Spanish program enjoys the strongest student enrollment within the World Languages Department. Course sequencing is identical to that of the French program, with two notable exceptions. The Department continues to offer the College Board approved Spanish 5 AP Literature (no longer offered in French), and the Department offers Spanish 6, a college-level course comprised of native, heritage and near-native speakers.

Spanish Courses Offered:

  • Spanish 1
  • Spanish 2
  • Spanish 2 (Honors)
  • Spanish 3
  • Spanish 3 (Honors)
  • Advanced Spanish 4A (Honors) and Advanced Spanish 4B (Honors)
  • Spanish Language and Culture AP (College Level)
  • Spanish Literature AP (College Level)

Critical Need Languages:

The Hill School is one of a few select boarding schools in the United States to offer two full-program critical-need languages (Arabic and Chinese) to its students. A critical-need language is designated in the U.S. as a language currently in very high demand for business and national security fields.

Learn More About Critical Need Languages