Some consider it an unfair advantage that speakers of a foreign language are allowed to take a class in that language. For several reasons, it should be acceptable for these students to want to learn more about their own people and culture. As a student in an AP Spanish class in which majority of students are Hispanic, I can say that there are plenty of things that native Spanish speakers don’t know about their own language. Since most of the Hispanic students come from different Latin American countries, each of which have diverse terminology and slang. Foreign language classes are a good opportunity to compare differences between cultures and traditions. At times, certain lessons are even easier for non-Hispanic students to understand than Hispanic students. Think about it this way—if you had been raised speaking English but did not know everything there is to know about writing it, wouldn’t you want to expand your knowledge?
Non-Hispanic students may feel overwhelmed in a room where conversation is going on in another language. It is probably difficult for them to cope with the pressure of an AP foreign language class that they are not fluent in. In more advanced foreign language classes, they are expected to be at a certain level when entering the class. Since there is no Spanish IIII this year, non-Hispanic students were bumped up to AP Spanish, a level that they’re not necessarily prepared for, while Hispanic students do not struggle as much. This is an issue that the school probably didn’t expect to come up. And although students who are fluent, like me, may enter the class with an advantage, we surely learn a lot of new material during the year and sometimes struggle.
Some Hispanic students know only the broken language, not the grammatical aspects of Spanish. They take Spanish classes to help them learn to read and write it. Often non-Hispanic students prove themselves more proficient in the language than others who are fluent. There are students in my Spanish class who sometimes do better on tests than I do; the fact that I can speak it does not necessarily suggest that I will always have perfect grades in that class, although my background does benefit me.
Some students also feel that Spanish speakers decide to take Spanish classes for an easy credit. Though this may be true for some, I can say that there are quite a few like me that enjoy learning new languages.
To those that find it unreasonable for Hispanic students to take Spanish classes, remember this: you don’t know everything there is to know about your own culture either. If anything, Hispanic students should serve as a learning tool to those who aren’t fluent, who are able to listen to actual conversations and pick up phrases and words from native speakers. I have no doubt that if I was in an AP French class and half of the students were fluent, I would struggle, but I would be glad for the opportunity to learn from the conversation surrounding me.
Nataly Capote / Chief Copy Editor
Spanish speakers have unfair advantage [CON]
Before I even begin to delve into the controversial realm of Spanish classes, let me say that I have been in some level of Spanish class for four years now. I took Spanish I, Spanish II, Spanish III Honors and, now, AP Spanish Language. I have received good grades in this subject throughout high school and I genuinely am interested in speaking Spanish fluently.
That being said, I understand why native Spanish speakers would take Spanish class. The first few levels are easy A’s and the more challenging levels provide natives with an opportunity to improve their skills and learn more about their culture. But, something just doesn’t seem right. Native speakers, if they put forth any effort, often cruise through the class while students who only speak English are left struggling. The discrepancy in skill between these two groups is often unsettling.
A common argument from students who do not enter Spanish class speaking the language is that native Spanish speakers should be banned from the class. However, this argument is a weak one spun by angry students who consider native speakers “lucky” because they grew up learning Spanish. Spanish-speaking students deserve the opportunity to study Spanish- but not in the same class as non-Hispanic students.
AP Spanish class is a bit trickier. This year, this school did not have enough students sign up for Spanish IIII to make it a class. Students who wanted to take that class were given the option of taking AP Spanish or not taking a foreign language class (in school at least). Many students who were not necessarily ready for AP (myself included) were forced to take the class in order to satisfy the four-year language requirement that many out of state universities have in place. This unfortunate situation has led to unnecessary problems that administrators should have anticipated.
Think about what Spanish students want to learn. Many want to improve their Spanish writing skills, learn more about Hispanic culture and build their vocabulary. They already know how to speak the language, conjugate verbs and do many of the other basic concepts covered in most Spanish classes. So why put them with kids who are learning irregular verbs and the likes for the first time? It wastes their time and hinders English-only students’ progress in the class.
The best solution to this dilemma is to create a foreign language program for native speakers. Students could test into these classes based on how well they already know the language. They would no longer be stuck learning topics they are already familiar with and colleges would favor bilingual applicants who are challenging themselves by taking these classes rather than getting an easy A. Students in traditional classes, especially in higher level courses, would not feel like class was being catered towards native speakers and would have a better chance of truly learning the language.
Natalie Barman / Opinion Editor