Wednesday, April 16

Many Spanish speakers learning Spanish — or no language — in HS

At about half of all city high schools, the only foreign language offered is Spanish, creating a challenge when, as is often the case, many students are already fluent Spanish speakers, according to a new article in City Limits.

What do high schools do with those students? “The schools design classes in Spanish for Spanish speakers,” says Maria Santos, chief of the DOE’s Office of English Language Learners and Foreign Languages, in the article. “They focus on developing more of their literacy in Spanish.” Sounds like a great plan -- but the article's author didn't speak to any students, so I'm left wondering whether this is true.

Many of the high schools I've visited take advantage of native Spanish speakers' language proficiency to let them place out of fulfilling the state's one-year foreign language requirement, and then fill their schedules with more English and math class time. I'd be willing to bet that this happens even in many of the high schools that offer instruction in French, Italian, Russian, and other languages. And that's a far cry from taking AP Spanish literature classes.


frances said...

I teach at a small school in the south Bronx, and our Spanish speaking students take the same basic spanish class that the non-spanish speaking students take, and the teacher doesn't give them more challenging work to do. They're dying of boredom. They will have the opportunity to take AP Spanish after they pass the Spanish regents.

Ross said...

Do the Spanish speaking students have the choice to take another language - or how exactly does the language class selection process take place?

frances said...

They don't. Students are assigned to a language by grade level. All 9th graders take spanish, while all 10th take french, for ex. it's appalling.

frances said...

there is no language selection process. students automatically get placed in french or spanish depending on their grade level Our current 10th graders were all placed in french when they were in 9th grade, our 9th graders were all placed in spanish. I tried to put all the bilingual kids in one class so they could have more advanced spanish, but no one, other than me, was terribly interested in that. It's appalling.

TrudiRose said...

Wait a minute, I'm confused: what's the point of having all ninth graders take Spanish and all tenth graders take French? Isn't it better to pick ONE language and learn it all four years of high school, so you have at least a small chance of getting halfway decent at it?

When I was in high school, you chose either French or Spanish, and you took it for all four years.