List of 3 items.

  • Mandarin

    Fifth Grade: This is a beginning level course. The class will focus on developing the fundamentals to communicate in Mandarin. Students will get familiar with the Chinese phonetic system of Pinyin and acquire the basic knowledge about strokes, stroke order, and common radicals for writing Chinese characters, along with basic conversational skills for daily life, including greetings, self-introduction and introducing friends, classmates and family members, telling time, expressing dates, countries, nationalities, colors, animals, and one’s favorite things. Students will also learn about Chinese culture through activities and projects. Reading and writing will be addressed, but listening and speaking will be emphasized.

    Trimester grades (beginning in the second trimester) will be based on class participation, homework, quizzes, tests, and projects.

    Sixth Grade: This intermediate-beginning Mandarin course continues to build a strong foundation in the basic Chinese language skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The class will cover a variety of topics related to daily life and cultural activities including clothes, the weather, hobbies, holidays, learning Mandarin, visiting friends, etc. Students will learn how to describe simple situations, people, places, and things. They will build their vocabulary and strengthen their communication in Mandarin using various sentence patterns. In addition, typing Chinese characters on computers is introduced. Listening and speaking skills continue to be emphasized.

    Trimester grades will be based on class participation, homework, quizzes, tests, and projects.

    Seventh Grade: This advanced-beginning level course emphasizes the development of communication skills in Mandarin. Students will learn to express themselves, orally and in writing, through applying more complex sentence structures, various tenses, and broadened vocabulary related to situations in the home, school, and other social settings. Class activities include listening comprehension, daily conversations, role plays, skits, reading authentic texts, and watching videos. Students will communicate with their peers about real world information, and are expected to read and write in Chinese characters. The class is conducted mainly in Mandarin, with clarification in English when needed.

    Trimester grades will be based on class participation, quizzes, tests, homework, and projects.

    Eighth Grade: This intermediate-level Mandarin Chinese course emphasizes expanding listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills and improving language fluency. Students will learn more advanced vocabulary and sentence patterns in different contexts and more complex grammar. The class will cover a variety of topics related to food, making appointments, dining out, traveling, shopping, asking for directions, etc. Students are expected to express their ideas in paragraphs, and writing essays in Chinese. The class is conducted mainly in Mandarin, with clarification in English only when needed.

    Trimester grades will be based on quizzes, tests, homework, and projects.
  • Spanish

    Fifth Grade: In fifth-grade Spanish, students learn basic vocabulary and some basic grammar structures. We use a binder of materials specially designed for young students that provides grammar, vocabulary, songs, and games to be used in class. At the end of the school year, the students are able to introduce themselves and talk in a basic, descriptive way about clothes, family and friends, animals, body parts, weather and time.  We use Spanish in class for commands and short conversations, but some explanation is provided in English. We integrate cultural activities into our curriculum and use video and computers for some projects.
    Students are assessed on homework, class participation, preparation, quizzes, tests, projects, and presentations.

    Sixth Grade: 
    Work on conversational skills continues but a stronger emphasis is placed on the skills of writing, reading, accurate pronunciation, and listening comprehension. Students use the textbook ¡Así se dice! 1 and supplemental online materials to guide their studies. Homework is assigned to each class to ensure that students practice newly acquired skills. Students are expected to have fully mastered the conjugation of regular and frequently used irregular verbs in the present tense by the end of the year. Vocabulary acquisition continues to be guided by units focusing on daily life.
    Cultural studies examine traditions from Mexico, Puerto Rico, and U.S. cities with large Latino populations through multidisciplinary assignments and projects such as a creative multimedia project on famous Latinas/Hispanic women of history.
    Students are assessed on the mastery of the five language skills (reading, writing, listening, speaking and cultural competency) through quizzes and tests as well as homework, class participation, projects, and presentations.

    Seventh Grade: 
    We use the book ¡Asi se Dice! as a base, introducing activities and projects appropriate to each thematic unit. We begin with a review unit designed to help students consolidate what they already know. We will study regular and irregular present tenses and the imperative. We will also learn how to express possession and to use object and reflexive pronouns. Activities in class are designed to help students improve their proficiency in all aspects of the language: reading, writing, speaking and listening comprehension in order to meet the ultimate goal of effectively communicating with native speakers. Students will use the target language in all activities in class and be given many opportunities to demonstrate their ability to convey information in Spanish. The class is conducted mainly in Spanish, with clarification in English when needed.
    The class also has a cultural component: We explore the geography, traditions, music, food, art, and culture in general of the various Spanish-speaking countries of the world. The librarian and teachers in Upper School art and Makery work with us on collaborative units.
    Tests and projects account for the majority of the trimester grade, with the remainder based on homework preparation and participation in class.

    Eighth Grade: 
    The primary goal of eighth-grade Spanish is the continued development and refinement of vocabulary and grammar. Consistent review is crucial and reinforces the foundation for more advanced concepts and grammar topics. Upon their arrival in eighth grade, the students will have studied the present tense, including the irregular and stem-changing forms. Other tenses for the eighth-grade year include the preterit and imperfect past, the future, the conditional, the compound tenses, and the formal/informal commands.  In addition, vocabulary will be studied via cultural projects and special assignments.  
    The class is taught in Spanish. The textbook ¡Así se dice! 2, supporting online materials, and a short murder-mystery novel are the required texts for the course. Cultural components of the Spanish-speaking world make up a large part of the curriculum. Culture will be explored through hands-on, interdisciplinary projects that include music, art, dance, history, and literature.
    Students are assessed on the mastery of the five language skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing, and cultural competency) through weekly quizzes and tests as well as homework, class participation, projects, and presentations.
  • French

    Fifth Grade: In the fifth grade, French is a beginning course. Students first become comfortable with French sounds and then begin to acquire basic vocabulary and grammatical structures. Students develop their listening and speaking skills as they learn through classroom conversation and classroom games and songs. Dictations, listening comprehension, and classroom interaction are used to develop effective communication in French. Reading and writing are taught after the new structures are introduced orally.
    Assessment is based on homework, written class work, quizzes, classroom participation, and pronunciation.

    Sixth Grade: In the sixth grade, the primary emphasis of the French curriculum is on making the transition from speaking to writing the language. Students use a textbook and a workbook. They are presented with the fundamentals of French grammar and their vocabulary becomes more complex.
    Students continue to cultivate their listening and speaking skills. Dictations, listening comprehension, oral compositions, skits, and classroom conversation are used to develop effective communication in French. After new structures are introduced orally, reading and writing are taught and serve as reinforcement.
    Assessment is based on homework, written class work, quizzes, classroom participation, and pronunciation.

    Seventh Grade: The seventh-grade French curriculum introduces students to more advanced grammar and vocabulary. In this class, conducted primarily in French, the girls master the present tense of all regular and many irregular verbs, and they begin using the past tense. Although all four language skills—listening, speaking, reading, and writing—are emphasized, particular attention is paid to communication. In addition to daily conversations, activities such as listening comprehension exercises, class presentations, skits, and dictations enhance effective communication in French. Reading and writing projects reinforce the language learned orally.
    Grading is based on accumulated points from tests and quizzes. 

    Eighth Grade: The French curriculum at the eighth-grade level prepares students to enter the more intense courses of high school and aims to strengthen all four language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. To achieve that goal, this course, conducted primarily in French, covers more advanced structures such as the passé composé and the imperfect tense. Authentic conversations and original skits and dialogues give students the opportunity to use French discussing real-life situations.  Frequent and lengthier writing assignments help develop effective writing skills. In addition, students create various projects that they present to the class in French, including poetry analysis and movies. 
    Grading is based on accumulated points from tests and quizzes. 

Language Teachers

List of 4 members.

  • Photo of Emily Otero

    Emily Otero 

    Upper School Spanish Teacher
    415.751.0177, ext. 355
  • Photo of Anthony Sabedra

    Anthony Sabedra 

    Spanish Teacher, Eighth-Grade Lead Advisor
    415.751.0187, ext. 342
    University of Santa Clara - B.A.
    Cornell University - M.A.
    Universita di Siena - Cert., Certificato degli studi italiani
  • Photo of Vedita Cowaloosur

    Vedita Cowaloosur 

    Upper School French
    415.751.0187, ext. 335
  • Photo of Xuemei Li

    Xuemei Li 

    Mandarin Chinese; Grade 6 Advisor
    415.751.0187, ext. 365
Burke's mission is to educate, encourage and empower girls. Our school combines academic excellence with an appreciation for childhood so that students thrive as learners, develop a strong sense of self, contribute to community, and fulfill their potential, now and throughout life.


An independent K–8 school for girls
7070 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94121
Phone: 415.751.0177 Fax: 415.666.0535
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