Aaron Toland | Staff Writer
The majority of high school students end up taking a course in either French, German, Spanish or Chinese in order to earn the Core 40 Academic Honors diploma or meet the eligibility requirements of the majority of universities; almost all of these students only end up taking their respective foreign language to the second or third level. Several students have, however, decided to continue their foreign language odyssey to the uppermost level available for high school students to take.
Although no AP German language and culture or AP Chinese language and culture class is currently available, eleven seniors are currently enrolled in AP French language and culture; additionally, ten seniors are currently taking AP Spanish Language and Culture.
The reasons that students made the uncommon decision to take an AP foreign language class differs between students.
AP French student Tori Martin felt taking AP French was a no brainer. According to Martin,“ Almost everyone chooses to take Spanish, I wanted to be different and take a fun language like French. Madame Frampton, the AP French teacher, is an amazing teacher who tries to make foreign language enjoyable. Why not take a fun class while getting an AP credit?”
AP Spanish student Phoebe Nguyen decided to continue taking Spanish in order to assist her in her future occupation.
“ I decided to continue with my Spanish curriculum because I wanted to become more fluent in a foreign language. Learning a foreign language for me was never just an obligation to fulfill my Academic Honors diploma. My projected career is an orthopedic surgeon, so I know that Spanish would be very useful for me to interact with my future patients,” Nguyen said.
Students have noticed difference in the environment and curriculum between the AP foreign language class they are currently taking and the foreign language classes that they have taken in the past.
“ Compared to past Spanish classes, AP Spanish Language and Culture is much more laid back,” said Nguyen. “ Sure, expectations as a student are raised, but I think my AP classmates and I have reached a point where we can apply the basics learned in Spanish 4 and under. There are more creative presentations than years past, but I actually prefer these over having multiple tests where I am not really applying what I have learned. I appreciate how AP Spanish is more than just memorization and spitting that material on paper.”
AP French student Madeleine Rassel sees AP French as the culmination of all the French classes that she has taken in the past.
“AP French basically puts everything together that we have learned over the past five years,” Rassel said. “We do a lot of writing, but unlike previous years the complexity of our writing has of course expanded. In past years we would write a paragraph or two over a topic, but this year we wrote our first essay in French; it was over a French movie.We also drafted an email to Mr. Henderson about a pressing issue in our school.”
Although students have taken their foreign language for their eighth grade year and all of their high school career, if not more, students are still far from reaching a point of fluency in their language.
“ I am not close to fluent. There are so many things that make up a language, and there is only so much you can learn in a classroom,” said Rassel.“I am able to carry on a conversation when it pertains to a subject I am familiar with, but until I am immersed in the language, becoming fluent may not happen.”
Nguyen said, “ Currently, I am not completely fluent in reading or writing Spanish, but I have found—looking back on my past Spanish classes—that I have improved immensely on my Spanish skills. I think taking Spanish all the way up to AP is worth the struggle in order to improve.”
“ I am definitely better at reading and writing in French, but I am not fluent in it,” said Martin.
After spending almost half of a decade in classes about their respective language, students are still interested in continuing to speak and learn more about the ins-and-outs of their language.
“As of now I am considering minoring in French in order to utilize it in my career in the future,” Rassel said.
“I do plan to continue with Spanish in college. I would like to earn a minor in Spanish someday,” said Nguyen.
Former president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints once said, “Study a foreign language if you have opportunity to do so. You may never be called to a land where that language is spoken, but the study will have given you a better understanding of your own tongue or of another tongue you may be asked to acquire.”
Seniors enrolled in AP French and AP Spanish have made the most of the foreign language opportunities available to them. Although these students might not end up using their foreign language in their daily lives, learning a foreign language will be an invaluable experience that will help them in life and in any career that they pursue.