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World Languages 

Sequence of Study

The World Languages Department at the Academy of Notre Dame offers its students an extended and uninterrupted sequence of study in French or Spanish, including AP courses and Level 5. Notre Dame has made a commitment to the study of languages requiring its students to study at least three consecutive years of one language in the high school, although most of our students opt to continue their study of language beyond this requirement. The opportunity to study a second world language is available in the 10th grade as an elective.

The World Languages Department is pleased to announce the expansion of its course offerings. Beginning in the 2015-2016 year, Latin was reinstated as a major language in the high school. Mandarin Chinese was added in the 2016-2017 school year. Both courses are also available as part of our Middle School course offerings. Any high school student interested in studying Latin or Mandarin in lieu of French or Spanish will need to continue her studies for a minimum of three consecutive years.

Points of Pride 

  • Notre Dame’s World Languages Department continues to be recognized by the Pennsylvania State Modern Language Association (PSMLA) with its highest award as a PSMLA Exemplary Program (PEP) in recognition for its exemplary, well-articulated program led by highly qualified teachers. We are the only school in the state of Pennsylvania to receive this award seven consecutive times.
  • Our students receive numerous awards annually for their performance in the National French Contest, the National Latin Exam, the National Spanish Exam, and other oral and written competitions in the region.


In French, Mandarin and Spanish classes, our primary goal is for students to develop a working proficiency in their second language that will enable them to use it for communication beyond the classroom walls. The four basic skills of listening, reading, writing, and speaking are stressed, with communication as the primary goal in each course offered. Even in Latin, students encounter a language that is very much alive, and although conversational fluency is not a goal of Latin study, students hone their language skills by writing both prose and verse in this ancient language.

Grammar is still a focus, but our students are taught to think critically about grammar usage, often using inductive reasoning to extrapolate rules from various examples, or using deductive reasoning to apply these rules to new circumstances. They also learn to compare their own language to the target language, one of the national goals for our discipline.

In order to become outstanding young women, our graduates must be aware of their place as global citizens—endowed with a deeper and more compassionate understanding of all humankind. This awareness is essential if they are expected to respond to the problems of contemporary life.

An equally important part of language learning is the study of the cultures of the people who use the language. Culture is not an add-on in our classes; it is woven into our activities and is an integral part of our curriculum. The World Languages Department is uniquely positioned to further Notre Dame’s commitment to social justice. Our students are afforded the opportunity to develop a greater appreciation of cultures and people different from their own, without making stereotypic generalizations.

Enrichment Opportunities 

  • As part of our one-to-one laptop initiative, each student can practice her oral and listening skills using the DiLL language lab software.
  • Students take field trips to museums and community events and attend visits by native speakers.
  • The ND language clubs (French, Chinese and Spanish) cultivate student interest in language study. In this informal setting, students will be able to practice their language skills and to participate in dynamic activities that foster a fuller understanding of the cultures involved.
  • International travel and enrichment programs are coordinated through the Center for Global Leadership.

Department Faculty

Sra. Rosemary Guarino, Department Chair
Mme Sophie Alfonsi-Connaire
Dr. David Califf
Sra. Alexandra Costa
Mme Patricia D'Andrea
Sra. Ariadna Fink

Dr. Amanda Klause
Mme/Sra. José Napier
Mrs. Changru Tu
Sra. Clare Ziff

World Language Department Faculty Once Again Receive PSMLA Exemplary Program Golden Globe Award 

The Pennsylvania State Modern Language Association (PSMLA) announced their awards for exemplary world language programs, and Notre Dame is once again a recipient of the top award, the Golden Globe. The award is given to schools that can provide evidence that their programs meet the rigorous criteria established by PSMLA. Notre Dame is the only school in Pennsylvania to have achieved and maintained the Golden Globe since 2005.

Spanish classes participated in an annual project with the Sisters of Notre Dame ministry to make cards in Spanish for migrant workers in Apopka, Florida. Sr. Ann Kendrick, SND, distributes them to workers helped by her ministry, who are far from home during the holiday season.



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A Catholic, Independent, College Preparatory School for Young Women, Grades 6 through 12

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The Academy of Notre Dame de Namur, a Catholic, independent, college preparatory school, commits itself to the education of young women of grades 6 through 12 for responsible living in a global society.

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