World Languages & Cultures

Understanding Appreciating Languages Cultures

Culver students not only embrace global citizenship, but also gain a deeper understanding of the languages and cultures of others.

Our mission as the Department of World Languages & Cultures is to develop global citizens who are able to communicate effectively and empathize with all cultures.

World Languages & Cultures Instruction

  • Courses provide a foundation in language and culture in Chinese, French, Latin and Spanish – and all upper-level modern language classes are conducted primarily in the target language.
  • Students are active participants in their learning as they explore cultures and language using interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational communication skills. Teachers guide students throughout their journey toward proficiency by creating a constructivist, student-centered classroom that is infused with authentic sources.
  • The Honors Seminar expands student knowledge of a target language, its literature and culture through the completion of a research project under the guidance of an honors advisor.  



Students who study Chinese at Culver will enjoy many opportunities for cultural engagement. In addition to learning the basics of Chinese conversation, they will explore the rich history of the Chinese writing system. Each fall, they will travel to Chicago’s bustling Chinatown to experience the sights and sounds, and taste authentic cuisine. In order to accommodate the diverse aspirations of our students, the Chinese program offers two separate tracks; a track for students who seek to complement their linguistic pursuits with engaging lessons on Chinese culture, and a pre-AP track for students who would like to push themselves as language learners. In addition to field trips and classroom activities, the Chinese program at Culver allows students the opportunity to directly interact with students from one of the top Chinese high schools via Culver’s partnership with Shanghai Foreign Language School. Each year, Culver either hosts a delegation of students and teachers from SFLS, or we send a group of our students and teachers to their campus in Shanghai. This decade-long partnership will allow students in the Chinese program to engage with the culture in a meaningful and concrete way.


Do you want to interact competently with the locals right when you land in your Francophone destination? Culver’s French language and culture program emphasizes being able to use French effectively in all modes of communication and successfully navigate various cultural contexts. Each unit of study in every class probes a specific cultural context of the francophone world, helping students see the role of French in our global community. Authentic, real world sources and tasks take center stage in our curriculum, with the end goal being young people who can use the language confidently.


Speaking Latin sounds intimidating, but what better way to learn a language than by actually using it? At Culver, Latin students communicate with each other through speaking, listening, reading, and writing in the language. Through speaking and reading Latin, students will engage with the ancient Romans and Greeks and come to understand how the modern world is so highly influenced by the past. Latin students who complete the program are left with a lasting appreciation and understanding for both the Latin language and Roman culture.


Culver Spanish classes give students an essential background to develop their communication skills. Students grow in mastery through conversation, reading and listening. They learn about Hispanic culture through group projects, songs and films from the Spanish-speaking world. Advanced students may pursue in-depth study of literature, conversation or cuisine. No matter their level, Culver Spanish students enter an exciting new world of communication.


How many years of language study are required?

Students are required to complete 3 levels of the same language.

How many students are in each class? 

Language class sizes average 10-12 students.

Which language is the “easiest”? 

All students are capable of learning a language. A student should choose his or her language based on what interests him or her the most!

What study abroad opportunities are there?

Culver is associated with many different programs that allow for language experiences outside of the classroom environment. Culver offers week long trips abroad during the Spring Break period in the Global Pathways Spring program. These trips change often to allow for multiple trips in a students’ time at Culver. Culver also works with the Indiana University Honors summer program, which is an immersion experience with many countries in which to study a language as a native speaker. “School Year Abroad” is another program that works with Culver to provide immersion programs during the summer, as well as semester and year-long programs. 

What are the opportunities for advanced work and/or going beyond a 4th year course?

Each language presents honors extensions in their sections. Each language also offers the Advanced Placement, or AP course, in the fourth year of study. The World Languages & Cultures department also provides students the ability to “honor” in language by taking the Honor Seminar in their junior or senior year and writing an honors presentation concerning a specific matter of interest in the language of study.

What are the benefits of studying another language?

At Culver, the Department of World Languages & Cultures strives to develop global citizens who are able to communicate effectively and empathize with all cultures. We teach language from a cultural perspective in order for students to be able to better relate to their roommates, classmates, and others with whom they might work and engage in their lives after Culver. By learning another language at Culver, students gain a great skill in communicating with others through both speaking and listening with purpose. 

How should I choose which language to study?

Check out each language’s tab on this website. You should find a lot of information about each language. You can also schedule time to talk to a language teacher when you come to shadow at Culver! 

Do students whose first language is not English need to take a world language class?

If a student fluently speaks and writes a language other than English, he or she is encouraged, but not required to study modern or classical language at Culver.  Gaining insight into a third (or fourth) culture and language reaps many benefits.

What is the process for testing into a higher level if there is previous language study?

Students who come to Culver with previous language study are able to take a placement test should they wish to continue in that language. Those placement tests are available and the results then help Culver determine the appropriate level of entry for the student. 

Will I be fluent in my foreign language by the time I graduate?

The word “fluent” is often used as a synonym to “proficient.” “Fluency” in a language refers to language being delivered easily and accurately. At Culver, we focus more on a student’s “proficiency” in a language. Language students must demonstrate a high degree of competence and skill in order to advance in their proficiency. The language classes at Culver are conducted in an immersive environment using comprehensible input for even more comprehensive class time, which further encourages growth in language proficiency. If it is a personal goal to become “fluent” in a language upon leaving Culver, students are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this class time as well as one of the many study abroad opportunities to engage with the language! 

Can I take more than one language during my time at Culver? 

Certainly! After completing the required three levels, students can chose to take a second language class as an upperclassmen to expand on the first language studied. Other students whose goals are language-oriented will choose to take more than one language at a time during their years at Culver. 

What kind of help do you offer for students who might struggle with foreign language? 

Each faculty member holds tutorial hours during the week. Students may also make individual appointments with their teachers for a tutorial time if they are in need of more support. Teachers will also organize study tables or peer mentor groups. If a teacher recognizes that a student would benefit from a regular tutorial, academic support and the teacher work with the student to schedule a recurring time during which support is given on a regular basis. 

Quick Facts

Percentage of students who take 4 years of a language

63% of Culver Academies students complete four years of a language. Studying four years in a language can be beneficial in the college admission process. 

Percentage of faculty with advanced degrees

70% of the faculty in the World Languages & Cultures department hold advanced degrees. Additionally, many of the faculty have lived and studied abroad in countries to include China, Mexico, Ireland, and France.

Languages offered at Culver

We offer four languages in the World Languages & Cultures department: French, Chinese, Latin, and Spanish. Each language has sections for Level One through Advanced Placement. There is also an Honors Seminar for those students who wish to earn an Honors in World Language on their diplomas. 

Opportunities for Honors Classes in each language

Each language offered at Culver, Latin, Spanish, Chinese, and French, all offer varied honors extensions. Spanish, French, and Latin offer honors work in levels 2 and 3. Chinese offers honors work in level 3. All four language options have AP courses in the fourth year. 

On-Campus Clubs for Cultural Engagement

Spanish: Sin Fronteras, Spanish Honors Society
Latin: Junior Classical League, Latin Honors Society
Chinese: Culver Chinese Culture Club
French: French Club, French Honors Society

Our Alumni



Hayes Barnes '14

View language as a growing opportunity. The value of a bi-lingual American is extremely high. You never know what class can change your personal and professional future. You may not be fluent now, but if you see each class as an opportunity to grow, you will do just that.


Nick Haydon '14

After having taken Latin for four years before my sophomore year, I continued to study Latin for three more years while at Culver. Studying Latin prepared me in a variety of ways for the opportunities that came my way after graduation. Latin trained me to pay attention to detail, organize a lot of information, and apply general rules to specific situations. These skills have been invaluable in helping me with my college coursework, even classes that do not fall within the humanities category, such as Physics or Astronomy. Additionally, studying Latin taught me to communicate and write effectively. Studying any foreign language forces you to grapple with new rules and manipulate them in order to convey an idea. This skill trains you to understand a concept before you apply it, which is vital and effective in any field of study or job. 


Trace Ostergren '10

I started studying Mandarin my freshman year at Culver, largely influenced by my roommate at the time. Since then I have traveled to China over twenty times and lived there for a total of three years. Foreign language study has, and continues to prepare me for my current manufacturing pursuits. Mandarin allows me to develop clear and concise communication channels, as well as forge faster and stronger relationships.