The transition from middle school to high school includes a lot of changes. Friends change, schedules change, classes change. This also includes foreign and mother tongue language classes Not only are the classes significantly harder but there is a larger variety of levels in order to help students find the level that suits them best. Fortunately for French and Spanish students, the transition from middle school to high school also includes the opportunity to study in their home language.
When it was time to select electives towards the end of last year, I was conflicted on whether or not to choose mother tongue Spanish as one of my electives. As a fluent Spanish speaker, I wasn’t sure what to expect and since I had never “studied” Spanish prior to this year, I was worried that I would be behind, however, it is safe to say that that was not the case.
During my first week of classes, I realized that “mother tongue” Spanish is a term that is used awfully loosely, as the level that we are taught is not mother tongue. During my first couple of weeks, I asked some of my friends who are in lower Spanish classes what they were doing in class and I noticed that many of them were doing very similar concepts as the ones that we were studying in the higher level class.
Proportionally, “mother tongue” Spanish in this school is like third grade level in a Spanish speaking country. Although I recognize that it is not the same to study in a Spanish speaking country and Switzerland, the similarity between the concepts that we are studying in this mother tongue class and a normal elementary school class in South America or Spain is evident.
Admittedly, there are multiple levels of Spanish in this class, yes, however, it is also important to recognize that the students that joined this class did so in order to improve their home language, or in some cases, to make sure that they don’t lose their level of Spanish.
The concepts that we have been studying this year include family and social relations, health and medicine, animals, geography and weather, architecture and cities, communication, technology, sports, jobs, clothes and shopping, and parties and popular traditions. Worldwide, these concepts are commonly studied at a very young age. Most children learn vocabulary about animals and the weather in elementary school, which is what shocked me so much about this class.
Despite the childish concepts that we have studied this year, there are some things that we have done that have allowed Spanish speaking students to improve and learn. We have been studying verb conjugations and have done multiple cultural projects this year in order to improve our cultural understanding of our countries.
If I were to repick my electives this year, despite all the issues that I see with the curriculum, I would have still picked it. There are many problems presented in the curriculum, but it is a fairly easy class to take and will give all Spanish speaking students more insight on their countries and other Spanish speaking countries.
I would strongly advise, however, that the curriculum changes.
After 10th grade, the Spanish courses available are AP and IB fluent courses and I strongly believe that the grade 9 and 10 fluent course will and does not prepare students for these harder courses. It is culturally important for the school to improve the curriculum to allow students to improve their learning.