World Languages

The mission of the Paint Branch’s world languages program is to expose students to a language and culture in order to make them knowledgeable and active members of a global society. Students will learn to use world languages for meaningful communication in both spoken and written form. The world languages program emphasizes language as it is used in various real-life situations that students are most likely to encounter.

Through world languages study, students develop sensitivity to the cultural and linguistic heritage of other groups and their influence on our own, and are prepared to participate in a society characterized by linguistic and cultural diversity.


World Language Recommendation for 9th graders

  • It is recommended that any incoming ninth grade student receiving a "C" or below in their current language class repeat that level at Paint Branch in order to ensure a successful first year.
  • A student who is failing their middle school language must repeat the level at Paint Branch, or start a different language in the ninth grade.
  • Students who are fluent native Spanish or French speakers should take the placement test to determine which level is the best match. These students are additionally encouraged to sign up for a language other than their native language, like Japanese.
  • Students who have weak reading skills and are recommended for remedial courses such as READ 180 should wait to take foreign language at a later time. The exception to this would be ESOL students who are in Academic Reading but have strong skills in their native language.

World Languages Typical Course Sequences

  • French/Spanish/Japanese 1-3 (1 credit each):

    In levels 1 – 3, the vocabulary that the students learn is directly related to the purposes and situations identified with each topic. Teachers will also select vocabulary to reflect the students’ needs and interests in each thematic unit. Vocabulary instruction is heavily emphasized over linguistic competence at these levels, although a greater emphasis on structural accuracy to enhance communication occurs in each year of successive language study.

    The MCPS World Languages Curriculum Framework delineates the performance indicators for levels 1 – 3 in French and Spanish. The performance indicators state what the students should know and be able to do at each level of instruction. In order to achieve these indicators, a thematic content base with accompanying vocabulary topics and essential structures has been identified. Within a given theme area, communicative goals are the primary focus. Goals in culture, comparisons, connections, and communities provide broader contexts for the student in which to learn the language.

  • French/Spanish/Japanese 4-6 (1 credit each):

    The upper-level course instruction is based on a broad range of interdisciplinary contexts and themes with increasing emphasis on refining language use appropriate to various sociocultural contexts. At each level of instruction, students learn to communicate using theme areas or content. Students at these levels work with an increasing number of authentic listening materials selected by the teacher. Students continue to expand and refine their ability to communicate in both oral and written form, to understand as well as produce language, and to do it in ways that reflect an understanding and appreciation of the target culture. Increasingly, literature may serve as a vehicle of attaining course objectives.

    Content spheres for levels 4-6 are:
    • History, geography, politics, economics
    • Music, art, architecture, film, theater
    • Literature, philosophy
    • Social conditions, everyday life, social institutions
    • Career awareness, contributions to science and technology
    • Current events, contemporary issues
  • AP French/Spanish Language and Culture – (1 credit each; Honors)

    The French and Spanish Advanced Placement courses place emphasis on the mastery of linguistic competencies at a high level of proficiency.

    Please go to the following websites for more AP course information:
    AP French Language and Culture
    AP Spanish Language and Culture  

  • Instructional Approach

    The study of a language involves learning vocabulary and structures in the context of the meaning one wishes to convey. It also involves nonverbal communication, knowledge of status and discourse style, and at times, the learning of a whole new alphabet. Communication strategies must be taught to enable students to circumlocute, and to derive meaning from context. Direct instruction in language learning strategies should be a part of the experience.

    Frequent on-going assessment of students’ progress in the target language is essential. Teachers pre-assess the students’ knowledge of vocabulary, structures, and reading content before actual instruction begins. Formative assessments take place at regular intervals during the instructional stage to check for understanding and mastery of the material being taught. Summative assessments evaluate all the goals in the standards and mirror the activities used to teach the topics.

World Languages Staff

 WL 2018

Resource Teacher French Japanese Spanish

Megan Tomas (office 1324)

Adrien Morel (levels 1 & 3)

Mikiko Korn (levels 1-4)

Tania Cardona (levels 2, 4, & AP)

Suzanne Ellis (levels 2 & 3)

Leslie Miller (levels 4H & AP)

Carissa Merdzhan (levels 4 & 5)

Megan Tomas (level 2)

Amy Weiss

Staff Emails:

Mrs. Megan Tomas
Resource Teacher  

Mrs. Tania Cardona
Teacher (Spanish)  

Mrs. Suzanne Ellis
Teacher (Spanish)  

Mrs. Carissa Merdzhan

Miss Leslie Miller

Mr. Adrien Morel
Classroom Teacher High  

Ms. Amy Weiss
Spanish Teacher  

Ms. Mikiko Korn

Staff Office Hours

Office phone: 301-388-9940
Office location: room 1326
Lunch (5th period or LAP): Monday – Thursday 10:49 to 11:34; Friday 10:53 – 11:38

  • Ms. Cardona: Available Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at lunch. After school by appointment.
  • Ms. Weiss: Available Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at lunch. After school by appointment.
  • Ms. Tomas: Available, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at lunch. After school by appointment.
  • Ms. Merdzhan: Available Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at lunch.
  • Ms. Ellis: Available Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at lunch
  • Ms. Miller: Available Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at lunch. Before and after school by appointment.


Staff Bios

Liz Maione - I grew up in Howard County, and in high school I played softball and was very active in the music program and NHS. I attended the University of Maryland, College Park (GO TERPS!) where I earned my B.A. in French and my M.Ed in Secondary Education. I love French because it helps me connect with people. There is nothing better than meeting other francophones and francophiles around the world! Before coming to Paint Branch, I taught at Banneker Middle School. I have almost completed an M.A. in French at Middlebury College in Vermont. I love teaching, taking classes, learning, reading, singing, dancing, going to concerts, playing the flute, watching movies, and travelling. My favorite cities are Paris, Florence, and Montréal.

Tania Cardona - I was born in Honduras and grew up in Silver Spring. I graduated from Wheaton High School where I enjoyed playing soccer for two years. In 2000, I graduated from UMCP with a B.A. in Education. Before teaching at Paint Branch, I t aught at White Oak Middle School for five years. Besides teaching, I also love to eat, watch foreign films, cheer for Barcelona, read, travel and dance Bachata. A perfect day includes playing soccer with my son Benjamin and my dog Chulo. I have been collecting turtles for the last fifteen years!!!

Carissa Merdzhan - I was born and raised in West Virginia and graduated from WVU with a degree in Spanish. I taught Spanish in
South Carolina and West Virginia before moving to MD in 2007 to teach at Paint Branch. I love the beach and traveling!

Leslie Miller – I was born and raised on Long Island, NY. In high school I loved chorus and band, took as many art classes as possible, had a part in the senior play, and worked a bunch of jobs after school. I attended the University of Maryland, College Park (Go Terps!!) where I earned my B.A. in Spanish and my M.Ed in Secondary Education. I fell in love with Spanish in high school, and am more and more excited and grateful to be an hispanohablante with each passing day! Before coming to Paint Branch I taught at White Oak MS for four years, and spent last year teaching English in Indonesia. When not teaching, I love to cook, read, travel, attend LGBT events, work out, and watch non-scary movies.

Adrien Morel- I grew up in Senegal where I finished my education with an MA in French and African Literature. I taught for 3 years before I came to the USA where I attended American University and received a an MA in teaching. I like to fish and travel. So far, I have traveled to Morocco, Guinea, Norway, France, Guatemala, Mexico, Canada and Trinidad and Tobago. I have 2 children who keep me very busy and right now my wife and I are planning another trip to...(guess where?)

Suzanne Ellis - I attended Paint Branch as a student and played on the varsity basketball, field hockey, soccer teams. I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland College Park (Go Terps!) with a double major in Spanish Language and Literature with Business and Government and Politics. I also have a M.A.T from Johns Hopkins University. Before coming back to PBHS, I taught at Einstein High School. When I am not teaching, I enjoy listening to music, going to concerts, traveling, having fun and cheering for the Redskins and Capitals.

Perla Rodriguez-Rios - I was born in General Bravo, Mexico and grew up in Houston, Texas. I attended the University of Texas Pan-American on a full athletic scholorship for Cross Country and Track and Field. I graduated with my B.A. in Kinesiology and a minor in Spanish. I have taught ESOL, Bilingual Education, and Spanish. I enjoy spending time with my family of three girls and husband. During my free time I enjoy traveling and running.

Megan Tomás - I attended Paint Branch as a student and enjoyed playing tennis, basketball, and softball. After studying Spanish and education and playing tennis at Towson University I returned to teach at Paint Branch in 2001. When I am not teaching I enjoy being with my family and three dogs. I also love to read, do outdoor activities, travel when I am able, and cheer for the Giants.

Amy Weiss- BIO I grew up in Columbia, MD, and attended Penn State University on a swimming scholarship. Previous to Paint Branch, I taught at Magruder High School and Rocky Hill Middle School. My husband is from El Salvador, and together we have 2 dogs, 2 cats, and 1 baby! We enjoy travel, exercise, music, camping, gardening, and teaching our baby both English and Spanish.

French Exchange Program

Our French Exchange Program is truly unique. We have been hosting students from Besançon, France for 20 years! Our PBHS students then go to France to stay with the families of the students they hosted. It was founded by a PBHS teacher who had a relative at the Lycée Ledoux school in France.

On the steps of Sacre Coeur in Paris  

Paint Branch Exchange students on the steps of Sacre Coeur in Paris.


French Exchange Program Potluck Dinner

Japanese Program

PB Students visit Japan 2015  

Paint Branch students visit Japan Summer 2014  

This picture was taken at a kimono and tea ceremony house in Kyoto, Japan on Ms. Zoll’s Japan Trip on June 17-26, 2014. In this picture, we are all wearing kimonos. Also, when we were at the kimono house, we were able to participate in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. During this year’s trip to Japan, we stayed in Yokohama and went to visit Yurigaoka High School in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, a sister state of Maryland. After Yokohama, we went to Atami, where we saw sulfurous hot springs and went on a cruise of Lake Ashi near Mt. Fuji. We also stayed in a traditional Japanese style hotel and experienced a traditional Japanese style dinner. We also rode the bullet train from Atami to Kyoto and visited Nijo Castle, Kinkakuji Temple, Kyoto Imperial Palace. After Kyoto we went to see the Big Buddha in Todaiji Temple in Nara. After taking the bullet train back to Tokyo, we went to Tokyo Tower Observatory, Asakusa, and Akihabara electric town. On the final day in Japan, we visited the Ghibli Museum, the Harajuku area, and the Shibuya area.  

Paint Branch Hosts Japanese Students  

Important Links for World Languages Students

Please click here for a list of important links.