March 10, 2009

No Habla Espanol

We are in the process of selecting a high school for my son for next year.

Florida sucks. I'm not going to get into it, but you can choose the school you're zoned for or apply to another HS.

Or go to private HS... which is an option for us. The local Catholic HS has a TREMENDOUS band and many positive attributes that help make the cost seem more bearable, although it does mean I'll be working A LOT MORE if he goes there.

A quick sidenote, what I love about this HS is that if you're in band for FOUR years, you don't have to take PE. Chorus, Band, Dance... no PE. If you drop out your senior year? You're taking PE with the freshman.

Needless to say, their band is about 1/7th the size of their school... everyone is in band, Jazz, Percussion, Concert, Pep... they have different bands. Its very very cool and its cool to be in band at this school.

Anyway, my son took the test to get in and scored very high, which I was not surprised as he tests well and consistently scores in the 99% in standardized testing.

So we got the list of classes he will take if he goes there and its all Honors, mostly, with average Geometry that I am changing down to Algebra I (see post below), regular Biology (he tested out of freshman science, but I'm having him put in Honors Biology) and... ready?.... Honors Spanish II.

I have NO CLUE how he tested for Honors Spanish II. None. They said in the literature I was handed that if he wanted to take that class, he had to take a placement test.

No placement test was taken.

I was stunned and even more so when I found out his best buddy who lives in a Cuban household didn't even get Honors Spanish II, something his buddy's folks found to be a riot.

So I called to have him placed in Honors Spanish I because he is absolutely NOT prepared for this class and will absolutely drown in it.

He has had Spanish one hour a day, three days a week for five years and this year it got bumped to five days.

He swears he has learned his colors over and over for six years. They don't learn accents. He says he can't speak it at all.

And he ends up in Honors II?

I asked his Spanish teacher about his placement as the HS started to fight me on putting him back in Spanish I and she told me... they put him there because he has Spanish five days a week now (something new to our school), she's a certified Spanish teacher and because...

... he tested so high on his ENGLISH.


Why not put him in Honors German II if we're basing it on his ENGLISH scores?


The head of the department called me today and acquiesced and my son is in Honors I.

But since when did we start deciding on language placement based on how well a kid reads, writes, and interprets his Native tongue?

Am I missing something? If so, please feel free to enlighten me...

Posted by Boudicca at March 10, 2009 10:04 PM

Maybe it's a grammar thing, if you are good at grammar in English, it's easier to teach in another language. I know my Indonesian teacher at highschool despaired at our lack of grammar knowledge, as it made her job that much harder.

Posted by: Amanda at March 10, 2009 11:36 PM

If that's the case I should speak excellent Spanish! I am so impressed with how much you know about your kids, how involved you are in their schooling and how much you fight for them. I hope to know so much when my kids are in school (which it seems will never happen some days).

Posted by: Jody at March 11, 2009 06:00 AM

One more thing, so NOT having to do with Spanish...

Rosetta Stone is offering their Irish language software for one week beginning the 12th. I know, I know, you're Scot. But the Gealic isn't that different... Thought TGOO might be into that...

Posted by: Jody at March 11, 2009 06:02 AM

Maybe schools should feature Rosetta ENGLISH for our own home-grown English-speakers who don't understand their own language!!

Posted by: ShyAsrai at March 11, 2009 12:03 PM

Good for you!!! I realize this is a High School class - therefore not as intensive as a 16 week college level class... still, the fact that he does well in an ENGLISH class means nothing at all about other languages. What in the world is wrong with those people???

I know there are some kids who just "get it" they adopt languages very easily. Your son (from what you said above) is not one of those types. And you're right - he'd be drowning in the honors 2 class.

For that matter, I did a semester of French at the local Community College. It was a fun class and I enjoyed it, got an A. I went to the University class for French 2 and had to drop out - it was just way far above what I had time for and was capable of learning. I would've had to do nothing but study French just to pass the class... since Computer Science was my major - this was not an option. Heh. Am I stupid? Not really. I'm just a slow learner of language.

Posted by: Teresa at March 11, 2009 01:18 PM

Oh wow - that's really weird... Though now maybe he will actually learn more than his colors! ;)

Posted by: Richmond at March 11, 2009 03:42 PM

A friend always wanted to learn French. When she finally signed up for a class in it (as an adult) she discovered that she didn't know English well enough to learn French. So I suspect that they may know what they're doing.

Posted by: Carl Brannen at March 11, 2009 04:23 PM

I can feel for you. I am one of the ones who learns written foreign languages very easily. I just cannot speak them well. I was stuck in one of those honors classes back in school and got straight A's across the board in the grade book. I got to college and they gave a test and I qualified for second semester, 3rd year French based on 2 years of high school French. The problem was that the class was to be all conversational. I would not have understood a word they said. I knew the written but knew nothing of the spoken. To this day I can pick up a French newspaper or book and pretty much understand what it says and I have not done that in years. One of my staff had a French newspaper and noticed that I was reading it on his desk while he was on the phone a few years back so I know I still got it. However, it is useless without the speaking part being up to snuff.

BTW the French teacher asked me to join the class because I was so good in spelling and English. She thought I would be good at French. I was at written, just not at speaking.

Posted by: dick at March 11, 2009 07:22 PM

I have the sickening feeling that the placement was about demographics, rather than a feeling that they thought he'd do well there.

Posted by: Nancy at March 12, 2009 02:16 PM

They started doing that about the same time we had to start pushing 1 for English........

btw - can he come tutor me? I'm SO in the minority right now...

Posted by: Tammi at March 12, 2009 08:02 PM