Foreign Language Department

The Department of Modern and Classical Languages offers classes in French, Spanish, German and Latin.

Why take a foreign language?

Habla Ud. Espanol? Parlez-vous francais? Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Nonne intellegistis Latinan linguam.

Even in Montana, it’s becoming more and more common to meet someone who speaks a language other than English. As the world seems to grow smaller because modern technology makes it easier to travel and communicate, commerce and information exchange require a knowledge of a second language or even a third and fourth!

The Department of Modern and Classical Languages offers classes in French, Spanish, German and Latin. Along with integrated classroom materials, students also have access to the latest in supplementary software material and video programs.

All modern language classes prepare students to understand the spoken and written language, as well as to communicate in both oral and written form; to appreciate the customs, manners and philosophies of other cultures and to develop a tolerant attitude of other cultures and lifestyles.

The modern language classes stress language as communication and, in the first year, the student and teacher are using the foreign language for everyday communication. Latin, the classical language, stresses English vocabulary building and grammar as they apply to English, translation and the study of the Roman culture.

Students may choose any of the four languages to study. Deciding which language to study is a matter of personal affinity and interest. Future plans for using the second language should also be considered.

Second language study has been shown to improve one’s understanding of English and to increase one’s native language vocabulary. Latin is the “mother” of English, French and Spanish and a good background for any language study. Spanish and French are used for communication in various parts of the United States. Students interested in science, math and technology fields may want to take German. All languages have a rich cultural heritage of history, literature, art and music to discover.

Unique career opportunities await the student versed in a second language. People who know English and a second language are in demand for jobs in the United States, as well as in other countries.

Highlights for Foreign Language students include the Mardi Gras-Carnival-Lupercalia-Fasching festivities in February or March when all language classes get together for a day of student entertainment, masks and Mardi Gras trinkets. Also, upper level language students are afforded the opportunity to attend Foreign Language Day in Missoula at the University in March. Language clubs also offer a fun and useful extension to the language classes.

All students are encouraged to take four years of a modern language or two of Latin. Discussion with parents, counselors and second language teachers will help decide how much language study will be of the most benefit.



French is a Romance language, although that’s not why it’s called the language of love. In linguistic terms, “Romance” and “romantic” have nothing to do with love; they come from the word Roman and simply mean “from Latin.” If you’ve ever wondered where French came from and how fits in with other languages, you can learn some basic information at your Helena High School French class.



By taking German I, II, or III, you have the opportunity to increase your fluency and understanding of the German language in the following ways: vocabulary enhancement, oral and pronunciation practice, reading fluency, writing accuracy, listening practice, and cultural exposure. Please go to Frau Person’s web page for my course syllabus as well as other interesting links to enhance your knowledge of the German language. Viel Erfolg!



The importance of Latin lies not in the fact that it is a foreign language to learn to speak, but that the grammatical structure is the basis for English grammar. The derivatives of Latin words give us about 75% of our vocabulary. Knowledge of Latin helps in vocabulary building, spelling, and developing confidence in the structure and rhythm of our language. It is also an excellent background for Spanish, French, Italian, Russian, and German. In addition to the above assets, Latin also teaches students inductive and deductive reasoning and offers opportunities in memorizing skills. Latin is not a “dead” language; it is very much alive in English, which seems to be the trade language of the industrialized world.

The chosen class text, Ecce Romani, follows the lives of the members of a typical Roman family, their relatives, friends, and slaves. Through these people, the students will discover the rich history of the Roman Empire and learn how it became such a dominating force during its time and how its influence continues to be felt in our present day.

A final hope is that through the study of the Romans, the students will begin to understand our nation and the similarities and dissimilarities to the Romans.



Spanish language was originated in Spain and now, it is an official language of many countries. This language was spread across many countries through colonization, conquest and early material trading. Today, apart from Spain, this language is widely spoken is South, Central America and some parts of North America. Many individuals and travellers learn Spanish as they use this language as their second language, since this language is used in most parts of the world. To start conversing in any language, a few common words should be learned to understand or speak that language. You can learn these basics in a Helena High School Spanish class.