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Help! I only have two years of language

hljemisonhljemison 18 replies6 threads Junior Member
I'm a high school junior and I've taken two years and half (5 semesters) of foreign language (Spanish), but that's all I'm going to take before I apply to college this fall. I'm fluent in English, Portuguese, and Spanish and didn't take another semester of the class because it was online through FLVS and I simply couldn't keep up with it and AP exams and my 7 other classes and SAT prep. Will not having 3 full years of language hurt my chances at all in college admissions as most schools (especially ivies or more elite private schools) recommend/require 3 years? One thing that helps my case is that I'm one year ahead in Spanish, I took Spanish 2 my freshman year, Spanish 3 my sophomore year, and one semester of Spanish 4 honors my junior year and I'm fluent in Portuguese, English, and Spanish (Portuguese first language, English second, and Spanish learned from family and maintained in class).
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Replies to: Help! I only have two years of language

  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 3247 replies74 threads Senior Member
    Can you get certified somehow with a Portuguese competency test, through Berlitz or similar?

    It is my understanding that elite colleges want to see 3-4 years in school (2years for most state and directionals), and that's what competitive applicants will have. That's not to say there aren't exceptions for those raised bilingual, but some kind of test score or certification would add to your credibility.
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  • CheddarcheeseMNCheddarcheeseMN 3642 replies13 threads Senior Member
    edited May 2019
    They may care more about what level you reached, which in your case is the third year. But if you are fluent in Spanish, why is it that you couldn’t keep up with the online course.
    edited May 2019
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  • Erin's DadErin's Dad 33999 replies4656 threads Super Moderator
    As @CheddarcheeseMN stated they are more concerned with the Level of FL you achieved. If you finshed Spanish 3 then you have the equivalent of 3 years of a FL. Good question about why you had some issues if you consider yourself fluent.
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  • happymomof1happymomof1 30576 replies194 threads Senior Member
    Being fluent in a spoken language, and having the time to get through a lot of reading and writing homework for an online class in that language on top of a full class schedule are two different things.

    @hljemison - Don't worry about not having completed the second semester of Spanish 4 when you apply to college. Most other applicants won't have finished Spanish 4 either. If you want to continue with Spanish during your senior year, that's OK too. If not, and you are still worried, your counselor can include a note about overloaded schedule and scheduling conflicts. Depending on where you do end up going to college, it may be worth your time to take the Spanish CLEP exam. Happykid is a native speaker, and got exemption from her college language requirement and credit for 12 semester hours of Spanish that way. If the college you end up at offers Portuguese, they are likely to have a placement and/or exemption exam for that language. But be aware that it may be more focused on academic language, reading, and writing, and a different dialect (e.g. European rather than Brazilian) than the one you use. So before you go down that road, make sure any review materials you use are appropriate.

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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 43091 replies470 threads Senior Member
    Top25 universities/LACs will expect level 4 or AP. Foreign Language is a core class, like Math or History. Skipping it to double up or take an extra AP in a non core class won't fly.
    Since Portuguese is your first language, see if there's an external test, perhaps offered by a cultural center or a certifcate administered by the consulate.
    Also, take the Spanish subject test and try to score 700+.
    Both certifications would likely offset the lack of level 4/AP.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 82715 replies738 threads Senior Member
    edited May 2019
    If you are fluent in Spanish, why wasn't any Spanish course in a US high school an easy A for you?

    But it looks like you completed level 3.5 (first half of Spanish 4), not level 2.
    edited May 2019
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  • jym626jym626 57387 replies3009 threads Senior Member
    edited May 2019
    Can you take a course this summer that will give you the additional credit? Any reason you didn't finish Spanish 4 Honors?
    edited May 2019
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  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 6416 replies1 threads Senior Member
    "I'm fluent in English, Portuguese, and Spanish"

    My understanding is that they care about the level you get to. If you are through third year Spanish (which seems rather likely if you are fluent), I am pretty sure that you are fine.

    You need to make sure that you have safeties and match schools that you are applying to. With this I think that you will be fine.
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  • happymomof1happymomof1 30576 replies194 threads Senior Member
    "If you are fluent in Spanish, why wasn't any Spanish course in a US high school an easy A for you?"

    @ucbalumnus - That is like asking why a kid who got through AP Calculus BC still wiped out on the math section of the ACT or SAT. The content can be very different from what the speaker knows - and the person may speak fluently but not read or write well. Not to mention of course that the dialect of Spanish the speaker uses (in Florida, most likely a Cuban or at least Caribbean Spanish) can be very different from the dialect taught in class (Castilian Spanish? a generic-ized "Spanish of the Americas"?). My Spanish is mostly Venezuelan, but I still have managed to learn multiple words for automobile tires, city bus, and earrings, as well as three different verb forms for second person singular simple present, and two for present subjunctive. I think it's nice that the OP did try the online language course, but adding that to a schedule that already included 7 classes, at least some of which were AP courses, probably just was too much. Ditching the extra class was probably the smartest thing the OP did all year.
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  • skieuropeskieurope 40797 replies7569 threads Super Moderator
    edited May 2019
    if you are fluent in Spanish, why is it that you couldn’t keep up with the online course.
    Good question about why you had some issues if you consider yourself fluent.
    I think the OP answered that, at least indirectly:"Portuguese first language, English second, and Spanish learned from family and maintained in class." So my guess is that s/he is overstating his Spanish proficiency, since few families teach reading and writing of the heritage language to their kids.
    edited May 2019
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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 2078 replies33 threads Senior Member
    edited May 2019
    I suspect that halfway through Level 4 of a language, plus fluency in another, will be enough to meet the bar, and taking an AP course in it's place should offset the 1 semester gap on an application, for most schools.

    OP - Is there not an online/cyber course you can take over the summer, if you really want to finish Spanish 4? Our local school's cyber program offers Spanish 4 over the summer - 8 weeks and a couple hundred dollars. If you're fluent, something like that would seem to be a good investment.
    edited May 2019
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  • jc570109jc570109 35 replies0 threads Junior Member
    DS took 2 years of Spanish and forgo the 3rd year due to course conflict, but he did take an AP test in Chinese and scored a 5 in his Freshman year. Would DS be penalized in the college admission process in the foreign language requirement?
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 43091 replies470 threads Senior Member
    ^There's an external test proving proficiency+ attempt with a real foreign language so all other things being equal I don't think so.
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  • skieuropeskieurope 40797 replies7569 threads Super Moderator
    edited May 2019
    DS took 2 years of Spanish and forgo the 3rd year due to course conflict, but he did take an AP test in Chinese and scored a 5 in his Freshman year. Would DS be penalized in the college admission process in the foreign language requirement?
    My answer is the same as when you asked the question last year, with the addition that you should not hijack threads; it's a ToS violation and is considered rude to the OP. I will also add that DS attends one of those prestigious boarding schools where the college counselors are more in tune with DS' academic performance viz a viz colleges he is targeting and so can provide better info since they have a fuller picture.

    I will also point out that there are several interpretations of "course conflict." It's one thing if the only section of Spanish 3 were offered at the same time as the only section of physics. It's another if the sections of Spanish 3 coincided with elective courses like legal history or prevented a student from doubling/tripling up in science or math. A true course conflict can be addressed by the GC. Opting to take an elective over a core course is a personal choice that the student should own.

    For admissions, the foreign language classes taken in school is more beneficial than relying on native/heritage language.. If he wants to use the native language to fulfill college language requirements,

    Remember, most of those colleges that make recommendations for HS preparation know that they are one-size-fits-most, not one-size-fits-all. Obviously there are unis like the UCs for CA students, where "required" means "required," but those are the minority.
    edited May 2019
    Post edited by skieurope on
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  • jc570109jc570109 35 replies0 threads Junior Member
    My sincere apology to @hljemison the OP, and thank you @skieurope for patiently answer my twice asked question!
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  • hljemisonhljemison 18 replies6 threads Junior Member
    @skieurope As I said in the original post, I couldn't keep up with the class simply because of workload, not because it was difficult material. I play sports, take 7 classes, am the officer of a handful of clubs, have sats coming up, and was studying for ap exams... I'm half Salvadorian and half Brazilian, I learned Portuguese and Spanish from family and am fluent in both.
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  • hljemisonhljemison 18 replies6 threads Junior Member
    @happymomof1 Thank you for vocalizing what I've been thinking reading the replies to this thread! My Spanish is Salvadorian/Mexican (I'm half salvadorian and was born and raised in California, adding colloquial Mexican-Spanish terms to the mix). That has nothing to do with why I didn't take a second semester of the class however, I just simply didn't have time for it.
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  • hljemisonhljemison 18 replies6 threads Junior Member
    @RichInPitt Thank you for the advice! I have considered taking the remaining semester over the summer but I'll already be taking AP Gov and AP Macro over the summer, working a lot, and going to a considerable amount of sports practices and travel tournaments. With family responsibilities added to that, it's just not feasible.
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  • hljemisonhljemison 18 replies6 threads Junior Member
    @CheddarcheeseMN As I mentioned in the original post, deciding to not take a second semester of the class wasn't because the material was difficult and the decision doesn't reflect on if I'm fluent in Spanish or not, I just simply didn't have time for it with a full schedule, SAT prep, sports, ap exam studying, work, and family responsibilities.
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 43091 replies470 threads Senior Member
    Understand that not taking that second semester because of sports/other classes makes it a choice. I wouldn't take Ap classes over the summer, I'd take the second half of that Spanish class, but you have to decide.
    In any case, register for tests such as the subject tests or consular tests that will demonstrate your proficiency. Saying you are fluent doesn't make you so in the eyes of colleges.
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