At the high school, students may choose between Chinese and Spanish. For three years, these classes meet four times weekly. A class typically contains approximately fifteen students. Because of larger numbers, Spanish students in the same grade are divided into two ability groups. In order to place students into the appropriate group, students' language‐learning backgrounds are taken into account and they undergo a placement test during admissions. The curricula focus on language form, structure, and culture.
The high school language courses follow the general guidelines set forth by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages as well as the contextualized, communicative approach represented in the World Language Framework of the State of California.
Mandarin Chinese is intended for students with no prior knowledge, either spoken or written, of any Chinese dialect. Mandarin is Modern Standard Chinese based on Beijing pronunciation. It is not only the national standard in the People's Republic of China and Taiwan but also an official language of Singapore and Malaysia as well as the United Nations.
The written portion of this course relies on the Pīnyīn romanization system, phonetic spelling with tone markers as well as Chinese logographs and their creation and evolution, stroke order, as well as their structure and calligraphic techniques.
Many of our high‐school Spanish students have had prior exposure to Spanish instruction in grade school. Linguistically, students learn to hone their speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills in Spanish. Culturally, students engage at ever increasing higher levels of cognition with the social and historical aspects of the Spanish‐speaking world.
SFWHS offers an exchange program for tenth and eleventh graders. It is based on a reciprocal agreement between families and schools making a binding commitment to host and support the exchange student. Germany, Spain, Peru, Chile, Colombia, and Argentina are our current destination countries. This direct and intensive exposure to language and culture provides our students with enhanced opportunities to deepen the aforesaid curriculum goals.