While Merrimack High School does not require students to study a World Language in order to graduate, most colleges and universities expect students to have successfully completed a minimum of two years of study of the language at the high school. Many universities strongly recommend three or more years of study of the same language and often have a World Language requirement for students at the University.
Language learning is built upon sequential acquisition of knowledge. A strong foundation and constant upkeep are essential for success. Students should achieve and maintain an average of C or better in a course before moving to the next year of language study. The Proficiency Guidelines of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages describe language proficiency in terms of five levels: Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, Superior and Distinguished. At the Novice, Intermediate, and Advanced levels, proficiency is divided into low, mid, or high. Research suggests that students of Spanish, French, and Latin who have daily and continuous opportunities to study a world language over four years of high school may reach the Intermediate Mid to Intermediate High levels of proficiency. Students who study Arabic and Chinese begin with learning different systems of writing and therefore may reach Novice High to Intermediate Low levels of proficiency. The normal sequence of study is listed below.