World Language Program

The World Language program offers four languages:  French, Italian, Latin, and Spanish. The program contains levels of instruction so that students may progress at a pace compatible with their aptitude.

The curriculum of the World Language Department is aligned with the Massachusetts Frameworks and the National Standards in World Languages.  The aims of language study are to master the skills of effective communication (reading, writing, listening and speaking), and to develop an appreciation for other cultures.  Instructional materials include texts, videos, audio and technology resources to complement each language program.  

A minimum of two years of a single World Language offered at Burlington High School in consecutive years is required for graduation from Burlington High School.  Two years of a single language is required for admission to the Massachusetts State Colleges. It should be understood that this is the minimum requirement and that most colleges give preference to students with extensive secondary school World Language preparation.  For this reason, the World Language Department offers a four or five year course sequence and recommends that students continue their study for as long as possible.

Consistent with the school’s mission and 21st Century Learning Skills, students enrolled in all World Language courses are encouraged to develop skills that teach them accountability, adaptability and tenacity in their academic, social, and civic interactions. Students will acquire skills to generate their own questions regarding course content, including, but not limited to, the themes of personal and public identities, contemporary life, family and community relations, and world challenges. Students will be provided with opportunities to investigate independent topics of interest relating to culture, history, and the language being taught. Students will work both independently and collaboratively to solve problems regarding current events and topics of debate. Lastly, students will participate in a classroom environment where they are nurtured to act with integrity in all academic endeavors and to exhibit respect for themselves and empathy for others.


World Language Courses Offered


The Burlington High School World Language Department and English Language Learning Program celebrates success in language studies by honoring students with the Massachusetts Seal of Biliteracy. The Seal of Biliteracy recognizes and rewards English Language Learners and World Language students for the biliteracy they demonstrate in speaking, writing, reading, and listening. The Seal of Biliteracy is voluntary for districts and voluntary for students within those districts that elect to participate. English Language Learners who maintain their native language are honored for the linguistic resource that they bring to their schooling. In addition, World Language programs that set proficiency targets can demonstrate to students that the longer sequences of language study lead to higher proficiency. Overall, the benefits of rewarding qualified students with the Seal of Biliteracy impacts students’ college and career readiness because biliteracy is a skill that enhances most career opportunities. 


For students who have taken the English Language Arts grade 10 MCAS prior to the spring of 2019 (the Legacy MCAS), that means meeting or exceeding the Proficient threshold scaled score of 240.  For students taking the MCAS in the spring of 2019 and beyond (the Next-Gen MCAS), the minimum requirement is Meeting Expectations.

Similarly, ACCESS for ELLs is administered to English learners in January and may be used to satisfy the English language criteria for the State Seal of Biliteracy by students who also fulfill the requirements of an Educational Proficiency Plan. These students must demonstrate English proficiency on ACCESS for ELLs with an overall score of at least level 4.2 and a composite literacy score of at least level 3.9.

Students who attain a score or level at the Intermediate-High level of the ACTFL language assessment satisfy the world language criteria for the State Seal of Biliteracy. If a language assessment is not available, a student may also be able to demonstrate a high level of proficiency in a world language through a Portfolio-Based Alternative Evidence Method.

Students who demonstrate mastery of English and a world language may be eligible for the State Seal of Biliteracy with Distinction. To earn the State Seal of Biliteracy with Distinction, students must meet the following criteria:

  • English: meeting or exceeding the Advanced threshold scaled score of 260 on the English Language Arts grade 10 Legacy MCAS test (Next-Gen MCAS – 501-560); and 

  • World Language: scoring at the Advanced-Low level of the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines of 2012 on an assessment or demonstrating an Advanced-Low level of proficiency through a portfolio-based alternative evidence method.

For more information please see the Chair of the World Language Department.

Course Descriptions