Foreign Language Requirements

<p>I'm a junior right now in high school. Recently I've had to think about my foreign language classes and how colleges will look at me. So here's what I have:
Spanish 1 in 8th grade
Spanish 2 as freshman
Spanish 3 Honors as sophmore</p>

<p>I was planning on taking Spanish 4 AP junior year (right now), but I just have too much work with 5 other APs. So I want to drop Spanish completely. I not only dislike Spanish, but I feel that dropping Spanish would help my performance in other classes. The thing is, if I drop, I'd only have 2 years of foreign language experience on my high school transcript. I talked to my counselor, and she told me that 3+ years of the same language is recommended for more competitive schools (Stanford, USC, etc.). </p>

<p>So now I have a few questions. Why do colleges recommend a certain number of years for a foreign language? For example, I only have 2 years (in high school), but my ability is that of someone who took 3 years. However, another student could have taken 3 years in high school but still have the same ability as me (finishing Spanish 3 honors).</p>

<p>My counselor suggested me to just drop down to Spanish 4 Regular, but I really feel like I'm done with you think having only 2 years of Spanish on my high school transcript will really affect my chance at highly competitive schools?</p>

<p>Also, I've been thinking about taking another year of Spanish at a local community college over the summer. Since that would be college level, would it count as another year of a foreign language? Are there online classes for college level Spanish that would count as a year of a foreign language?</p>

<p>Here's more about my foreign language experience. I am Chinese, but I was born in America and have lived here my entire life. Does scoring well on the Chinese SAT II mean less since I'm Chinese? Also, since my Chinese is quite good, do you think that it would be able to make up for only taking 2 years of a foreign language in high school? I plan on taking the AP Chinese test to prove my proficiency. And I already took the SAT II and got a 790. </p>

<p>What do you think I should do if I want to apply for competitive colleges such as USC, Stanford, and UC Berkeley? If I drop Spanish 4 AP, I would only have 2 years of a foreign language, but on the other hand, I am quite proficient in Chinese as well.</p>


<p>bumb! I am in exact same positions as you. I Have all these AP classes senior year and Spanish 4 just seems like a waste!.
***Does Spanish 3 "count" as 3 years of lang. even if you skipped Spanish 1 in High school???</p>

<p>No. When colleges say they want 3 years of a foreign language, they mean that they want 3 years of the same language on your high school transcript.</p>

<p>And in my mind, it really isn't that fair. If you skip 1 year, but it doesn't show up on your transcript, then what's the point really?</p>

<p>2 is a bit steep... I stopped at 3rd year (IB requirement) and I think I'll be missing a benefit of having 4 years.</p>

<p>But that means I have even more science credit now. Not that it matters beyond a certain point but it shows interest.</p>

<p>What I'm REALLY curious about is why colleges like to look at the years rather than your proficiency...any ideas?</p>

<p>If you got through AP in sop year then you could stop. They want to see follow through and mastery.</p>

<p>Colleges are not fond of students taking the SATll in a native language.</p>

<p>But my native language is english. I am an american...if they aren't fond of me taking a SAT II in my second language, which happens to be the language of my heritage, wouldn't that be discrimination?</p>

<p>Colleges don't really consider foreign language a "core subject". Now if you were applying to a very competetive school as an International Relations major not taking all of the FL classes offerred at your school in a particular language, may hurt. They only check to see if you've met their "year's taken" requirement. Colleges that actually break down your transcript are looking at math, science, english, & social studies. They want to see that you've taken the most difficult classes offerred at your school in those subjects and done well in them.</p>

<p>No, it's not discrimination. They are looking for scholars. They want to see what you've studied in depth, not what you've picked up by osmosis. They can't parse who learned Chinese first or English first, they just see many Chinese kids taking the SATll having never taken a Chinese class and they don't like it. I got that feedback so often when I was a counselor I practically hog tied any of my students who tried to do this.</p>

<p>Each institution determines for itself whether or not X years are "recommended" or "required". You really need to read through the websites carefully. </p>

<p>1) Some will consider Spanish 1 (8th grade) followed by Spanish 2, and Spanish 3 in high school to be three years of foreign language. Some won't. Whether you need to take Spanish 4 depends on where you want to apply. You don't have to take it this year if it doesn't fit your schedule. You can take it next year. Or next summer at the CC.</p>

<p>2) If you have been going to Chinese school on the weekends, get whatever kind of certification that that institution awards and make sure that any college/university that you apply to knows that you have indeed had formal instruction in the language. Since the US is an essentially mono-lingual country, there is a tendency to devalue any home language. Proof of formal instruction including your ability to read and write that language will make the college/university happier.</p>

<p>3) Take the SAT II now for Spanish before you forget everything you've learned in class.</p>

<p>4) You have a good SAT II score for Chinese. Take the AP exam as well if you can prepare for it. Not because this will look good for the colleges, but rather because these scores will give hard evidence of your command of that language. Someday you might need formal proof for a job application. Also, the scores might help you place into a Chinese course actually worth taking once you get to college.</p>

<p>5) Within the language teaching community there is an ongoing tension between language-for-communication (which you probably have from your home-learned Chinese) and language-for-scholars (which is probably more the way your Spanish was taught). I agree that it is stupid to think that suffering through really poorly taught foreign language classes is some kind of evidence of scholarship. Unfortunately, as Redroses has pointed out, a lot of college/university admissions people still buy into that notion. Probably because they aren't bi-lingual themselves - but that would be a whole other story in and of itself.</p>

<p>Wishing you all the best.</p>

<p>^^^csdad: I have a related question. By the time I graduate, I will have completed 5 years of one language and will be proficient in a second (taught outside of school, so the levels are different). Language is one of my strongest subjects; will colleges really ignore my success there when breaking down my transcript?</p>

<p>klpv, In our school district, HS Spanish I begins in Grade 8. Spanish II is taken in Grade 9. Spanish III is taken in Grade 10. In total, here the students complete their required 3 years of foreign language at the end of Grade 10. Our district includes the Grade 8--Spanish I on the High School Transcript because it is a high school level foreign language. The same goes for students who take high school level Biology in 8th grade. The course and the grade while taken in 8th grade, will be included on the high school transcript.</p>

<p>OP--As long as you completed Spanish 3, you're fine. Check with your guidance office and see if they include your 8th grade Spanish I on the high school transcript. </p>

<p>Redroses---The student completed through level 3 of a foreign language. As long as he's completed the level 3, colleges will count it as 3 years of foreign language.</p>

<p>I'm not saying they won't count it, I'm saying it will not be looked upon favorably at top colleges to stop there when the HS offers more.</p>

<p>Okay. Thanks for all the info. Unfortunately, my school district doesn't count 8th grade Spanish I on my high school transcript. So I'm just going to take the Chinese AP test to prove my proficiency in Chinese, and if I have space next year, I might try Spanish 4 AP again, or maybe just Spanish 4 Regular. Do you think colleges would rather see 2 years of Spanish in high school or 3 years (with a level down from Spanish 3 Honors to Spanish 4 Regular)?
Also, do you know of any online Spanish classes that would count for high school credits? Would taking an online Spanish class count as another year on my transcript?</p>

<p>If you got high school credit for taking Spanish in 8th grade, you have three years. I think it's probably best to have as many units of foreign language as possible. Having two is a major weak point in my opinion. Plus, then you will most likely have to take a foreign language in college, whereas at many schools if you took three or four years of a language, you can significantly reduce or even eliminate any foreign language requirements in college.</p>