MassLang: Notable Offerings
Public High Schools With Large and Diverse Foreign Language Offerings
Most of the public high schools in Massachusetts offer a small number of foreign language options. However, 11 schools are particularly noteworthy for offering 6 or 7 different foreign languages.
- Boston Latin School is the oldest school in the United States, founded in 1635, a year before Harvard University. It is one of the high schools in the Boston Public School District. Boston Latin School requires each student to study Latin for 4 years (or 3 years for students who enter the school in 9th grade). In addition, each student is required to complete 4 years of a modern foreign language, with 5 languages offered: Spanish, French, Mandarin, Italian, and German.
- Boston Latin Academy is another of the top schools in the Boston Public School District. Boston Latin Academy requires 3 years of Latin plus 3 years of a second foreign language. The other languages offered are Spanish, French, Mandarin, Greek, and Japanese.
- Lexington High School is a public high school in Lexington, MA. The school is one of only two in the state to offer 7 languages: Spanish, French, Latin, Mandarin, Italian, German, and American Sign Language. Students are required to study 2 years of a foreign language in order to graduate.
- Peabody Veterans Memorial High School is a public high school in Peabody MA and is the other high school that offers 7 languages. Peabody offers Spanish, French, Latin, Italian, German, Portuguese, and Greek, but it does not have a graduation requirement of foreign language study.
- Cambridge Rindge and Latin School is a public high school in Cambridge MA. The school requires 2 years of foreign language study and offers 6 languages: Spanish, French, Latin, Mandarin, American Sign Language, and Arabic.
- Sharon High is a Traditional public high school in Sharon, MA. The school requires 2 years of foreign language study and offers 6 languages: Spanish, French, Latin, Mandarin, American Sign Language, and Greek.
- Haverhill High School is a Traditional public high school in Haverhill, MA. The school has no foreign language graduation requirement, but it offers 6 languages: Spanish, French, Latin, Italian, German, and Greek.
- Nauset Regional High School is a Traditional public high school in Eastham, MA. The school has no foreign language graduation requirement, but it offers 6 languages: Spanish, French, Latin, Mandarin, German, and American Sign Language.
- Newton North and Newton South are the two Traditional public high schools in Newton, MA. Neither school has a foreign language graduation requirement, but both offer 6 languages: Spanish, French, Latin, Mandarin, American Sign Language, Russian (Newton South) and Italian (Newton North).
- TEC Connections Academy Commonwealth Virtual School is a virtual public high school that offers Massachusetts students a full high school curriculum. The school requires 2 years of study of a foreign language and offers 6 languages: Spanish, French, Latin, Mandarin, German, and American Sign Language.
International Baccalaureate Programs in Public High Schools
The International Baccalaureate (IB) is a curriculum used in schools in over 150 countries around the world to provide standardized courses and assessments that help students prepare for university admissions. Due to its global focus, one of the principal features of the IB curriculum is language instruction. Several public high schools in Massachusetts offer an International Baccalaureate curriculum with rigorous foreign language requirements.
- Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School (PVCICS) is an International Baccalaureate World School in Hadley MA that requires 8 credits of Chinese language study over the 4 years of high school. PVCICS describes its approach as a “one-way immersion model, meaning most students will enter the program with no knowledge of Chinese. Chinese language acquisition occurs naturally by using Chinese as the language of instruction during a portion of the day. This approach is becoming very popular because it produces high academic outcomes and bilingual/biliterate students.”
- Sturgis Public Charter School is a charter school in Hyannis, MA where all courses in Grades 11-12 are International Baccalaureate courses. The Sturgis Public Charter School requires 6 years of foreign language study, 2 years of Latin plus 4 years of either Spanish or French.
- Mystic Valley Regional Charter School is a charter school in Malden, MA that offers an IB program. The school requires 5 years of foreign language study, including at least one year each of Spanish and Latin.
- Abby Kelley Foster Charter School is a charter school in Worcester, MA that offers an IB program. The school requires 3 years of foreign language study consisting of one year of Latin plus 2 additional years of either Latin or Spanish.
- Two high schools in the Boston Public School District offer International Baccalaureate programs. Snowden International (Muriel S. Snowden International School) offers an IB program and has a graduation requirement of four years of a foreign language, with 4 languages offered: Spanish, French, Mandarin, and Japanese. Josiah Quincy Upper School offers an IB program and has a graduation requirement of three years of a foreign language (Spanish or Mandarin).
- Several other Traditional public high schools in Massachusetts offer an International Baccalaureate option. Brockton High, Wareham High, Springfield High School of Commerce, and Quabbin Regional High all offer IB programs.
High Schools for Bilinguals and English Language Learners
Most high school students in Massachusetts are native English speakers, and they study a foreign language to gain some level of fluency in another language. However, students who are English Language Learners are already fluent in a foreign language; their challenge is learning English while also trying to complete a full high school course load that is usually taught in English. Some public high schools in Massachusetts have special programs to help these students to be successful.
- Margarita Muniz Academy is a dual-language Boston Public School whose motto is “Living and Learning in Two Languages.” It offers a two-way bilingual program, with classes taught in both English and Spanish.
- Boston International Newcomers Academy is a “Boston Public School that embraces new immigrant adolescent English language learners and their families. We teach English Language Learners across the content areas while cultivating native language literacy and culture. “
- Lawrence International Academy is high school in the Lawrence Public School District that offers a newcomer program for English-language learners who have been in the country for less than two years. The program aims to “teach students English while also teaching rigorous content.”
- Brockton High School has a dedicated Bilingual Education department, which offers “transitional bilingual education classes” in some core subjects. These classes have bilingual instructors who speak the students’ native languages (French/Haitian Creole, Portuguese/Cape Verdean Creole, and Spanish) and “may use native language materials to support the attainment subject matter and English language competencies.”
Languages Offered by Small Number of Schools
There are 16 different languages taught in Massachusetts public high schools. Some, such as Spanish, French, and Latin, are taught in hundreds of different schools. However, some languages are taught in a small number of schools, sometimes just one school in the entire state.
- Armenian: The town of Watertown, MA has a large Armenian community, and Watertown High School offers Armenian as one of its foreign languages (along with Spanish, Italian, and Arabic).
- Irish: Belchertown High School is the only high school in Massachusetts to offer students classes in Irish, with two elective classes in the Irish language. These classes do not fulfill the school’s graduation requirement of 2 years of foreign language, with 4 other languages offered: Spanish, French, Greek, and Latin.
- Khmer: The city of Lowell, MA has a large Cambodian community, and Lowell High School offers a full 4-year sequence in Khmer, including Honors classes. Fall River, MA also has a large Cambodian community, and Fall River Durfee High School used to offer a 3-year sequence in Khmer; however, the 2017-18 Durfee High School Program of Studies does not include any Khmer classes.
- Russian: Russian used to be one of the 5 most common foreign languages taught in American High Schools. However, currently only 2 high schools in Massachusetts, Middleborough High School and Newton South High School, offer Russian.
- Turkish: Two charter schools in Massachusetts, Hampden Charter in Chicopee and Pioneer Charter School of Science with two locations in Everett and Saugus, offer Turkish as a foreign language option.
- Japanese: Although it is one of the languages for which an Advanced Placement exam is available, Japanese is only offered by three high schools in Massachusetts: Boston Latin Academy, Snowden International, and Brookline High.
- Arabic: While Arabic is only offered by 5 public high schools in Massachusetts, it is the second-fastest growing option (behind Mandarin). It is currently offered by Charlestown High in Boston, Cambridge Rindge and Latin, Norwell High, Watertown High, and Boston Arts Academy.