Foreign Languages in Middle School & High School

Parent Q&A

Foreign Language: Required vs. Recommended Aug 11, 2020 (3 responses below)
Advantage to taking middle school Spanish? Mar 21, 2019 (8 responses below)
  • Foreign Language: Required vs. Recommended

    (3 replies)

    My kid is a junior in high school and has two years of foreign language under his belt. To be honest, the instruction he's received hasn't been great. He's signed up for a third year because that's what everyone does... But it's the COVID era, when we're all taking time to think about what's important in life. Another year of foreign language doesn't enthuse our child or us. At least not in this setting (a high school with the block system where you take the class only half the year).

    How detrimental to his college apps will it be if he bows out with the minimum two years of foreign language?

    Overall he's a B+ish student who will apply to some CSUs and out-of-state public universities. He does not plan to apply to UCs.

    Thanks in advance for any advice you might have.

    For the places he is interested in applying, meeting the 2 year minimum requirement will be fine.  No need to force himself to do a third year.  One consideration, though, is if a major he is thinking about might require foreign language and if he takes the third year, he could possibly test out of that.  My son knew he wanted to do Mechanical Engineering and stopped at two years. He was accepted to Cal Poly SLO (his first choice), Oregon State, and UCSC.  He is now doing the Master’s portion of Cal Poly’s Mechanical Engineering Blended (4+1) degree program and will graduate in June with a BS and MS.

     I would advise him to drop the third year but replace it with something interesting to him that is a real challenge.  Ideally, something in a subject area that addresses the purpose of the foreign language requirement - to become familiar with our global world - such as AP world history, history of religion, or an in-depth exploration of a continent or culture.  Also, consider taking it online from a foreign high school or college, where he can literally hear the material from a non-American perspective.   Then if asked why he stopped at two years, he can legitimately say that the instruction at his school was poor so he sought out a better way of becoming competent in one or more foreign cultures. Good luck!

    CSUs just look at whether they have taken the requirements, and their GPA (and test score except I think if you have a certain GPA you don't need the test, if this is still the same as when my son applied few years ago.) If you have the required number (which depends on your major, if it is an impacted major), you get in. (This does not apply to Cal Poly which is more like a UC.) Universities who do a "holistic" review aren't going to rule out a student because he didn't like one subject, but do generally like for the student to have selected challenging courses for junior and senior year.

  • Advantage to taking middle school Spanish?

    (8 replies)

    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.  

    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.