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Karen P.





Should I go on and take AP Spanish in high school?

I am a student going into my junior year of high school. This upcoming fall, I will start taking a Spanish IV Honors course for the whole year. Compared to Spanish I (which I took in middle school) and Spanish II (which I took my freshman year), Spanish III has been relatively harder. There is only one teacher for Spanish III and Spanish IV Honors at my school and she challenges us to our greatest potential. Last year, we were forced to start writing essays (3-5 paragraphs in full Spanish) for our tests, plus multiple short answer questions. This was a huge leap from Spanish II, making many of the students in my class struggle. I am incredibly nervous for this year since our essays will require 7-8 paragraphs and 6-10 sentences per paragraph. We are also instructed to use every type of grammar we have learned since Spanish I. To be honest, I am not sure if I am really fit to take Spanish IV Honors, though I was recommended for it. In my senior year, I would be able to take AP Spanish, but do I really want to take it? #student #language #high-school-classes #foreign-languages #ap #spanish #ap-spanish

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Believe me, I have immense amounts of sympathy for you! When I was in high school, I took AP French, and I struggled with it. A lot. Every essay I wrote was an exercise in looking up every noun I used to find out whether it was masculine or feminine....

Of course, at this point, I have a degree in linguistics (and my job title is "Senior Linguistics Developer"), so clearly I can't be completely scared of languages. All the same, I'm still much better at the concept of language than I am at actually writing anything in French.

I'll second Monty's suggestion that talking to a school guidance counselor is a good idea: someone who knows you and knows what you're able to handle. I certainly will say that you shouldn't duck out of Spanish just because it's hard; tackling hard challenges is the best way to grow and feel fulfilled. But by the same token, I wouldn't recommend that you take a course in advanced nuclear physics this year just because it's hard!

I am certain, though, that if you take Spanish and you do well in it, you'll be glad that you did it. If nothing else, you'll always get to say, "Hey, I made it through AP Spanish! Hated it, forgot all of it, but by heavens I entered the dragon's lair and came out the other side, and that's an achievement." (Note: probably you shouldn't literally say that. People look at you funny when you talk about dragon's lairs.) But you'll probably get a lot more out of it than that.

Last updated Aug 30 '16 at 04:07 PM

Hi Karen -

I certainly understand your concern about learning "needless" elements for a secondary language. I obviously do not know the particulars of your situation and it is difficult for me not to recommend additional education; however, if you feel comfortable and proficient in Spanish and don't plan to have a career where you foresee yourself needing specialized elements of the language, then you may consider foregoing AP Spanish. It now sounds to me that you've peaked in your proficiency based on your future needs.

I would recommend you talking to a school guidance counselor and/or teacher your really respect in terms of academics on two fronts: 1) whether or not AP Spanish will be of future benefit to your career choice and 2)testing out of college courses.

To be honest, it's been many years since I attended college but at that time there were proficiency tests your could take to receive college credits for the knowledge you acquired in your high school courses. Your guidance counselor or someone at a college admissions office will be able to provide you with more details. I'm sorry that I cannot be more specific on that account. If nothing else, if you have an opportunity to take Spanish as elective courses in college, those courses should be a review for you and allow you to make good grades in your college elective courses.

Maybe you can lob a question via this service and this Career Village website to see if anyone knows the particulars of testing out of college courses. Perhaps someone here on Career Village may know those particulars. I would phrase a question such as: "I am a junior in High School and through my coursework, I am proficient in Spanish. What are the procedures i need to take to "test out" of college Spanish courses and apply my high school Spanish to receive college credits."

All the best. You and your gut feeling will make the right decision.


Last updated Aug 29 '16 at 04:05 PM

I can't tell you how many times I told myself that I wish I would have paid more attention in my college Spanish classes.

Knowing a second language is a valuable tool to have in today's society. It's just one more skill you have in life. Many employers post jobs seeking bi-lingual candidates.

Plus, if you are going to college there are often opportunities for you to get college credits by testing out of certain college elective courses since you already know and are proficient at the college level material. How great is that that you already know enough Spanish to only have to take one or two semesters of a language elective in college instead of the required three semesters, for example. It's like you've already passed a college course for the material you learned in high school.

Now with that being said, every human is different and every situation is different and every decision is different.

But my recommendation is that you high consider AP Spanish as the two biggest upsides are again: 1)knowing a second language can only help you; 2)potential for college credits.

Continued best.

Last updated Aug 29 '16 at 03:33 AM


There is certainly value in bypassing additional college courses by taking an AP test. You can have that much more free time during your college experience, save a bit of tuition money, and potentially even graduate sooner. I'd give it some serious thought, and be sure to talk to your guidance counselor. I bypassed 36 units by taking CLEP tests, it was great to be able to skip so many general education classes and just go straight to what I wanted to study. I wish you the best of luck in college!

Last updated Feb 19 at 12:43 AM
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