World Languages Department

Resource Teacher: Karen Generose
Phone: 301-803-7213

Choices | FAQ | Placement | MD Requirement  



Foreign Language  The WJ World Languages Department offers courses in Chinese, French, Italian, Latin, Spanish and Spanish for Spanish Speakers.
Knowledge of a foreign language has great benefits. By learning the roots of words and new vocabulary, you will do better on the SATs. Also, since America is quickly growing as a multicultural society, a foreign language will allow you to communicate with more people in your future career.
Most importantly, learning another language broadens our tolerance of other cultures and makes us realize the influence other cultures have on us. Another language also helps us understand our own culture better as we compare the similarities and differences between another culture and our own. Foreign Language2 



Please visit our course bulletin for course descriptions for World Languages classes. 

Choices in world languages study at WJHS

Five foreign languages are offered at WJHS: Chinese, French, Italian, Latin, Spanish, and Spanish for Spanish Speakers.

Learning a foreign language is an important part of education. The United States is becoming increasingly multicultural, and many career paths now require knowledge of other languages and cultures. Knowing a foreign language is a real advantage in the work world. Foreign language study may also be required to gain admission to many colleges and universities. Students wishing to gain admission to the University of Maryland, for example, must complete a minimum of two years of a foreign language in high school. Many colleges often expect four or more years of a language.

In Maryland, in order to graduate from high school, students must successfully complete at least two years of a foreign language or, alternatively, pursue a specific technical or career-oriented program.

French, Italian, Spanish and Latin are offered at the Advanced Placement® Level. AP® Language courses are usually taken after five years of study. Students who take the AP® Language or Literature exam and receive a score of 3 or higher may earn college credit, depending on each college's credit granting policy.

Most frequently asked questions by Middle School and High School parents

Is my child going to receive HS credit for FL classes taken in MS? 

Yes, If the student passed the course and the final exam for level A and B, he/she will earn high school credit.

If my child earned D's in MS, should he/she register for the next level in HS?  

Parents should consult with the current MS teacher for guidance. In general, this level of achievement in beginning levels does not adequately prepare the student for advanced studies in the upper levels. The course can be repeated in HS and the student may benefit from a higher grade, but will not earn credit for the MS course. However, we discourage students with a C from repeating the course.

How does my child prepare to take Honors level courses?  

Their preparation starts in Levels 1 and 2. Students must demonstrate excellent study and work habits, and high motivation in learning and using the language.

How are Levels 3 and 4 Honors different from Levels 3 and 4 Regular?  

In level 3, the course content, vocabulary and structures are the same. However, the countywide semester exams require the Honors students to complete additional speaking and writing tasks. In level 4, when the class has a mix of honors and on-level students, instructors may differentiate between the groups in both assignments and grading. Because the level 4 is a pre-AP® course, the course is taught as an Honors course.

At WJHS all level 3 and 4 classes are mixed level, allowing students who demonstrate superior performance to be placed in the Honors section without additional schedule changes.

My child has not been recommended by his/her teacher to take the Honors level, but I disagree. What can I do?  

It is recommended that the student receive a grade of A, B or C+ in the previous level. Discuss the expectations of the course with your child. Read the Honors Courses Guidelines, the Criteria for Enrollment in Honors and the Review Process in the MCPS Online High School Course Bulletin.
Follow the directions for appeal contained in the recommendation letter received by your child for next year's FL course.

When can my son/daughter take the Advanced Placement® courses and exams? 

Students must complete Level 5, and be recommended by their current teacher to enroll in the AP® courses. The AP® exams are taken in May of the year that students are enrolled in the course. WJ offers all Language and Literature AP® courses offered by The College Board.

The current course my child is taking is too easy. Can he/she skip a level? 

Students in Spanish 4 need to be recommended by their teacher to take a qualifying exam at the end of their first semester and score at least 80% in order to skip level 5. They will not earn credit for Spanish 5, but will be allowed to enroll in AP® Spanish Language the next academic year. Students in French 4 are recommended by their teacher and move to the next level mid-year. They earn credit for the semesters they completed.

World Language placement tests for incoming and current students at WJHS

Students with no previous world language experience usually begin with Level 1A/B in 9th grade. Students who successfully complete Level 1B in French, Italian or Spanish in 8th grade should continue with Level 2 at WJHS. Beginning with Level 3, languages are offered for both honors and regular credit. At the end of first semester in January, foreign language teachers will make individual student recommendations for the following academic year.

Students who are not following the normal progression from one MCPS level to the next and are unsure of which level is appropriate for them may request a foreign language placement test. This consists of a writing sample which the student completes in the foreign language.

Writing sample test forms are available from Ms. McKinney, the WJ Counseling Services Secretary, and must be completed in the Counseling Services Office without the use of a dictionary. Spanish-speaking students should request the placement test that is specifically for Spanish for Spanish Speakers. The test will take approximately 20-30 minutes. FL Resource Teacher Ms. Generose and foreign language department staff will evaluate the writing sample and make the placement recommendation. Results will be relayed directly to the student and to the student's counselor.

Skipping a level in advanced courses:

Spanish Level 4A students who wish to skip Level 5 must be recommended by their teachers, and must receive a score of at least 80% on a qualifying exam which is taken at the end of first semester. Students who pass the qualifying exam will not get credit for Spanish 5; they will be allowed to enroll in AP Spanish Language the following academic year. Students in French Level 4A are occasionally recommended by their teacher to skip to Level 5B second semester. They earn credit for 4A and, at the end of the academic year, 5B.

For any questions, Ms. Generose can be emailed at or called in the FL Department office at 301-803-7213.

High School Graduation & College Admission Requirements

To be awarded a diploma in Maryland, a student must earn a minimum of 22 credits. Among those credits, students must complete one of the following:


Option 1:    2 Credits of World Languages or
Option 2: 2 Credits of Advanced Technology or
Option 3: 4 credits in a State-approved career and technology program (many available at Edison H.S.)


Many parents want to know how much foreign language their children really need. While admission requirements vary widely, college-bound students should consider the fact that colleges and universities are seeking students with a solid foreign language background. In addition to overall academic performance, SAT/ACT scores, and extracurricular activities, college admission committees evaluate how well-rounded students are. Successful foreign language study signals that a student is eager and motivated to broaden his or her horizons.

Minimum world language admission requirements of a few colleges and universities:

University of Maryland system - two years required;
North Carolina University system - two years of the same language required, four years recommended;
University of San Diego - three or four years of the same language recommended;
Virginia Tech - at least three years of a world language recommended;
Yale University - three or four years of at least one world language recommended.

Once they decide which colleges they will apply to, students should check the world language admission requirement of each college to make sure that they have fulfilled the requirement. Students should also be aware that to be competitive, they may need to exceed minimum requirements and recommendations. Students who choose a world language track in high school should therefore plan to reach the upper levels of study.

Even students who are undecided about college should consider studying a foreign language. Students who successfully complete several years of foreign language demonstrate commitment to challenging work, and are better prepared for career paths that require knowledge of and interest in other languages and cultures.


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