Advantage to taking middle school Spanish?

Is there any advantage to taking Spanish during middle school when you matriculate at Berkeley High?  Besides the obvious ones of getting earlier exposure to a foreign language, etc... Does it help with getting more advanced classes (if one wants to continue with the language) or getting more electives later on?

My child is at Willard, currently really enjoying the social aspects of school but not academically challenged at all.  She is really interested in some of the fun electives for 7th and 8th grade like Growing leaders, etc... but is wondering if Spanish would provide more challenge and benefit her in the long run.  

Parent Replies

New responses are no longer being accepted.

Two years of middle school Spanish allows you to skip one year of BHS Spanish--so starting in Spanish 2 instead of 1. It's not a huge advantage. Your child will undoubtedly take language in high school and whether she starts with 1 or 2 isn't a very big deal. I've had one kid who did middle school language and one who didn't and the one who did has more regrets because she thinks she would have preferred some of the electives. 

My child is a seventh grader in Spanish at Willard. We steered him towards it as the most academic of the elective offerings at Willard. The class doesn't seem to be very rigorous. I think they explore a lot of vocabulary, but I'm still waiting for him to learn some conjugations.

Sure. She would take spanish 2 or 3 as a freshman. Very challenging for my son- unlike his other freshman classes.

Middle school Spanish is worthwhile only if it is a "meaty" course that covers the entire first year high school curriculum. Often times, middle school language classes are not demanding, consisting primarily of games, songs, and minimal vocabulary, and students who believe they are prepared for a second or third year high school language course because they earned an "A" in middle school, are in fact, not ready at all. This can be deeply disappointing as they realize they must repeat Spanish 1. You and your daughter need to consult with a Willard counselor to learn how previous students who have studied Spanish at their school fared in Spanish once they moved on to Berkeley High. 

If, however, your daughter wants exposure to the language and is not as concerned with immediate advancement, the sooner she takes Spanish the better! I have witnessed students become nearly fluent in Spanish in four-five years time, which is a phenomenal accomplishment!  Best wishes to your daughter! 

(retired high school Spanish teacher levels 1-AP)  

If you want to advance through advanced language classes in high school, taking language in middle school could be an advantage in that it gets you into a second-year language class as a freshman. But if your child doesn't know yet whether that's something they want, it may not be a real motivating factor.

My daughter took Spanish for two years in middle school. It was pretty mediocre (not at all academically challenging.... she too was not really challenged in middle school) and she didn't feel like she learned much. She's had a better experience at Berkeley High, but still not great. She's a sophomore and doesn't want to continue with language after this year. 

I guess the advantage for her is that she now has 3 years of language on her transcript, basically and can focus on other interesting classes/electives at Berkeley High.

So maybe it's sort of a decision of whether to have that opportunity in middle school or in high school.

Also, if your child is interested in languages other than Spanish and French (I think at some Berkeley middle schools only Spanish is offered), there are more options once they get to Berkeley High. 

I definitely recommend that your child get started with Spanish, especially if she is not being academically challenged.  That way, once at Berkeley High, she may place into a higher level class at entry, and be able to take AP Spanish and/or AP Spanish Lit later on.

My child's Spanish teachers at Berkeley High were good to excellent.  Same for the English teachers.  Not so for the Math and Science teachers, unfortunately.

We are not part of the Berkeley school system, so YMMV.

I overrode my son and put him in middle school band rather than the "fun electives" in his first year of middle school.  Total, unmitigated disaster.  Partially because the band teacher at his middle school is an award-driven harpy who doesn't give two $iii$ whether the kids actually learn and like music, and partially because son would've been more willing to actively learn in classes he chose and liked.  Even at 11, he wanted a voice in those decisions (rightly so, I now realize in retrospect).  Having your child like their classes instills a love of learning rather than a "I gotta take this cuz dem de rulz" kind of attitude.  Your child will get a healthy dose of that anyway with graduation and college entry requirements in high school.  

My child went to Willard and we explored this also. The problem with taking Spanish in middle school is that you have to commit to two years, so it eats up the elective option for 2 of the 3 years your kid is there -- no art, no computers, no music, no growing leaders. Among my son's friends, only one kid took Spanish at Willard, and he came from a Spanish-speaking family, so the class was viewed (by the kid) as an easy A. I can't think of any other advantage to taking Spanish in middle school unless you have a kid who has absolutely no other interests besides speaking the Spanish language. Wait until high school. There is more time in high school to satisfy the two-year language requirement while still taking other electives. Plus, who knows, maybe your daughter decides she is more interested in one of the other languages available at the high school level.