Strategic World 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.

Why Learn a Critical-Need Language?

  • Gain the linguistic and cultural skills to be a leader in a diverse, globalized world
  • Open new opportunities in careers ranging from diplomacy to international business
  • Acquire new world views and contribute to intercultural and international relations
  • Attain skills that will distinguish you among college and job applicants
  • Align yourself with scholarships and travel opportunities


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. Currently there are five levels, Arabic 4 & 5 being seminar courses taught at the college level.  They are  designed to prepare students for the NEWL Exam, an exam used as a predictive assessment for continued Arabic language study beyond high school.

The process of learning Arabic requires critical thinking and creativity and can help students increase their cognitive abilities. Although the language may seem intimidating, it is actually logical, and its grammar is straightforward to learn. The pedagogy and methodology used to teach Arabic at The Hill is experiential, allowing students to thrive in the language starting in their first year.


The Hill School's Chinese program is nationally renowned: For more than 18 years, it has been a model for other schools. As one of only four “Confucius Classrooms” in Pennsylvania, the program offers courses through the AP level and beyond. 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. Additionally, 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 as well as the social and cultural aspects, the cognitive and meta-cognitive skills that accrue from this learning process are invaluable.

French and Spanish

Additionally, Hill’s World Languages Department offers two traditional romance languages, French and Spanish, both through the AP level and beyond. All of Hill’s language courses are designed to prepare students for multilingual academic study, international travel, and world careers. Hill’s language learning is both rigorous and fun. Whether students are preparing for an AP exam, simulating a French restaurant in class, or singing a Spanish song on stage, they acquire both linguistic and cultural proficiency through challenging and authentic experiences that will stay with them for a lifetime.

School Year Abroad

The School Year Abroad provides and opportunity for Hill School students to extend their learning beyond our campus to locations in China, France, Italy, and Spain. These immersion programs focus on experiential learning; feature home-stays in authentic cultural contexts; and allow students to complete an American-style year of education in preparation for the college admission process.

Diversity on Campus

Students from 28 U.S. states and 28 countries around the world call The Hill School their home -- creating a naturally diverse setting for young minds to learn new languages, hone international skills, and develop global intelligence.

Complementing this cultural pluralism, The Hill School’s Strategic World Languages Program offers a rigorous curriculum through which students can develop their linguistic and cultural competencies hand in hand.


At Hill, students have opportunities to formally & informally participate in cross-cultural activities and celebrations without even leaving campus. They can also travel overseas to participate in our SYA program. Headmaster Zack Lehman P'16 '18