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The mission of the Paint Branch 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, authentic 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 language study, students develop sensitivity to the cultural and linguistic heritage of other groups and their influence on their own, and are prepared to participate in a society characterized by linguistic and cultural diversity. Students can set and assess language learning goals through ACTFL Can-do Statements. The statements are organized according to the Interpretive, Interpersonal, and Presentational Modes of Communication as described in the World Readiness Standards of Learning Languages:
Interpretive Communication: Learners understand, interpret, and analyze what is heard, read, or viewed on a variety of topics.
Interpersonal Communication: Learners interact and negotiate meaning in spoken, signed, and written conversations to share information, reactions, feelings and opinions.
Presentational Communication: Learners present information, concepts, and ideas to inform, explain, persuade, and narrate on a variety of topics using appropriate media and adapting to various audiences of listeners, readers, or viewers.
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 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 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 & 5 (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 & 5 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 information:
AP French Language and Culture AP Spanish Language and Culture
The study of 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, at at times, the learning of a whole new alphabet. Communication strategies must be taught to enable students to circumlocute, and to derive meaning fro context. Direct instruction in language learning strategies should be a part of the experience.
World Languages Staff
Megan Tomas (office 1324)
Staff Office Hours
Office phone: 301-388-9940
Office location: room 1326
Lunch (5th period or LAP): Monday – Thursday 11:09 to 11:54; Friday 11:12 – 11:57
- Ms. Weiss: Available before school and at LAP. Available after school by appointment.
- Ms. Merdzhan: Available Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, 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.
- Ms. Korn: Available at LAP. Before school and after school by appointment.
- Mr. Morel: Available at LAP Monday - Friday. Before and after school by appointment.
- Ms. Kelley: Available Wednesday and Thursday at lunch. After school by appointment.
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.
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- 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.
Mikiko Korn - I was born and raised in Yokosuka, Japan. Prior to teaching Japanese, I taught English as a foreign language in Japanese high schools. I came to America as a graduate student at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City. After finishing my master’s degree, I became an exchange teacher from Japan to Maryland, where I taught Japanese for two years. I love to travel and learn about various cultures!
Carolyn Kelley - I grew up in Hutchinson, Kansas. I earned my B.A. in Spanish and Humanistic Studies from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, IN. While in college, I was lucky enough to study abroad for one summer in Spain and one summer in Mexico. While teaching Spanish as part of the ACE program, I earned my M.Ed. from the University of Notre Dame. Early in my career I moved to Santiago, Chile, to work as an English teacher, improve my own Spanish skills, and explore South America. I am married and have three young sons. As a family we love traveling to visit my family in Kansas and my husband’s family in the Dominican Republic. In my free time, I enjoy running, reading, and doing yoga.
Seal of Biliteracy Information
World Languages Honor Society
Paint Branch High School is proud to have chapters in both the Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica (National Spanish Honor Society) as well as the Société Honoraire de Français (National French Honor Society). Students who show success in and dedication to the Spanish or French language are invited to apply to the World Languages Honor Society each winter. Candidates who meet the national admission requirements are inducted to the WLHS each spring, providing not only a mark of distinction to students and their dedication to language learning, but also providing a supportive space where students are encouraged to find new and exciting ways to use their second (or third!) language in real-life scenarios. Any questions about the WLHS should be directed to either of the group’s co-sponsors, Ms. Leslie Miller or Mr. Adrien Morel.
Our Travels Abroad
Paint Branch students visit Japan Summer 2017 and 2019
This picture was taken at Ogi High School’s tea ceremony room in Saga, Japan on Ms. Korn’s Japan Trip on July 6-20, 2017. In this picture, we are learning how to make tea. During this trip, we attended Ogi High School for a week. We all wore Japanese school uniforms. All of us LOVED our time with our host students and families. Before visiting Saga, we stayed in Tokyo for three days. We visited the Ghibli Museum, the Harajuku/Shibuya area, Tokyo Tower Observatory, Asakusa, and Akihabara electric town. After Saga, we flew to Kyoto, where we visited historical landmarks such as Nijo Castle, Kinkakuji Temple, and Fushimi Inari Shrine to name a few. After Kyoto, we went to Osaka, where we saw Osaka Castle and enjoyed delicious food Osaka is known for such as Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki and Kushiage and the river cruise!
Travel to Spanish-speaking countries
Students who study Spanish at PBHS are invited to join our biennial Spring Break trip. We are currently planning our Ecuador trip for Spring Break 2022! If you are interested in registering for the trip, please contact the trip sponsor, Ms. Leslie Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Below are some pictures of our 2018 trip to the Dominican Republic: