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placement & Prerequisite courses


The goal of the placement process is to match students to the course in which they will experience appropriate degrees of challenge. Language acquisition is a mastery of skills, not a mastery of content. When students are appropriately placed, they are guided to reach beyond their current ability levels and attain higher levels of proficiency. This page is designed to promote an understanding of the decision-making process and sequence involved in placing students in the correct course. We strongly encourage students who have begun languages in the elementary or middle grades, regardless of whether they attended school in Darien or not, to continue their language studies when they enter our high school.

It is important to note that leveling in World Languages is fluid. Student may change levels from one year to the next commensurate with proficiency growth, assessment performance, and motivation. Students and their families should give careful consideration to course placement decisions, as they are based on evidence, experience, and made with care based on the best interest of each student.


One year of world language study is required for graduation; however, parents and students should be aware that most colleges and universities require three to four years of world language study at the high school level in order to be eligible for admission. Generally, colleges will accept world language credit earned in grades 9-12 to meet college/university entrance requirements. We suggest that families consult with school counselors and to refer to admissions offices for college entrance requirements.

In addition, the World Language Department emphasizes that although some colleges do not require a world language for entrance, many require language study during college for graduation. Some colleges waive the graduation requirements if incoming students can demonstrate, through departmental or standardized assessments, that they have achieved college-level proficiency in a world language. Here in Darien, students take the computerized STAMP Assessment (which makes them eligible for the Seal of Biliteracy) and may also sit for the AP exam of the course in which they are enrolled. Students receive a score certificate which they may share at the college level for placement consideration, as both of these assessments become part of their permanent academic testing record.

While high school and college may seem like a long way away for a student in elementary or middle school, we know that students become more proficient the more time they spend interacting in the target language. Our goal is that all students become proficient (and bilingual!) in the language they choose to study.

Please contact Christina Vázquez Mauricio, Department Chair for World Languages Grades 6-12, at for placement of heritage speakers at all levels.


A student entering MMS in Grade 6 from any elementary school in Darien can...

  • continue learning Spanish - a student that has taken Elementary Spanish 5 enrolls in Spanish 6, or
  • begin studying French - a student that switches to French enrolls in French 6.

Students learning languages at the middle school level continue with the language they choose in 6th grade for three years.

Eighth grade world language teachers will begin to make recommendations for high school placement in February/March. These decisions are data-based. Teachers look at growth on proficiency assessments results from 5th to 8th grade, mid-year assessments and projects, benchmark scores, and individual progress of students working towards meeting the learning target of Novice-High/Intermediate-Low by the time they exit 8th grade.


At the end of middle school, students entering DHS...

  • continuing with French enroll in either French II or French II Accelerated.
  • continuing with Spanish enroll in either Spanish III Honors, Spanish III, or Spanish II.
  • can begin studying Latin in Latin I, Mandarin in Mandarin I, French in French I, or Spanish in Spanish I if they have never studied these languages before.

Students can choose to take one or more of the world languages that are offered at Darien High School. Below is the DHS World Language Course Levels & Prerequisites, which gives a sequence of what is required to move through the program.

First page of the PDF file: DHSWLPrereqs1
First page of the PDF file: DHSWLPrereqs2
First page of the PDF file: DHSWLPrereqs3