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Getting the Edge on AP Summer Institutes for our World Language Courses!

I receive lots of questions about AP Summer Institutes, also known as APSIs. Teachers ask if they should attend one, why they are important, what they will learn, etc. What better topic to address right now as we look to summer professional development for our AP® or pre-AP®  level classes!


Although I am an AP® Spanish World Language and Culture Consultant, this message is for all teachers of AP® World Language courses. All fellow College Board–endorsed AP® World Language Consultants are wonderfully trained to deliver comprehensive, effective APSIs, with key takeaways that will support participants in being the best AP® teachers possible. Let’s explore how to prepare to get the edge on APSIs this summer!


First of all, I firmly believe that every AP® teacher should attend an APSI now and then to maximize efficacy in teaching the course. This is especially true if you have never taught the course before or are anticipating teaching an AP® course in the near future and want to jump start planning. But AP® Summer Institutes are also wonderful training for teachers of levels prior to AP® who want to support and prepare their students ahead of the AP® year by understanding the Course Framework, as well by introducing AP® themes, contexts, and skills, and by starting to scaffold AP® tasks—all of which will lead to better access to and readiness for the course. Finally, an APSI is also valuable for seasoned AP® teachers who want to refresh and catch up with best practices, improve their skills in using AP® Classroom, and review scoring guidelines by discussing free response questions from the most recent exam. If you have not been to an APSI since 2018, before the “new” CED (2019–2020 Curriculum and Exam Description), I highly recommend that you do so.


What are the key APSI topics covered in AP® Language and Culture (Spanish, French, Italian, Chinese, German, Japanese), AP® Spanish Literature and Culture, or AP® Latin courses? All Summer Institutes (in all content areas) will cover the following key topics over a period of 30 hours of instruction (whether in person or through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous hours, if virtual):

  1. Course and Exam Description and Course Planning
  2. Expanding AP® Opportunities
  3. Strategies and Pedagogical Tools
  4. AP® Daily and AP® Classroom
  5. Assess and Reflect


Now let’s discuss how to get the edge on your AP® Summer Institute, capitalize on all that is offered, and leave prepared and confident in your skills to teach the course:

  1. Watch for an email from your APSI consultant ahead of the Institute. They often have questions and instructions for you, as well as links to important information, so you can be as prepared as possible for a successful APSI experience. Remember to respond to the consultant’s questions, which will help in planning.
  2. You will be instructed to download the Curriculum and Exam Description for your course from a link or an attached .pdf file. Have it all ready to go on Day 1.
  3. For new AP® Teachers teaching the course for the first time: In order to be able to access AP® Classroom during the Institute, make sure to begin the AP Course Audit process ahead of time:
    1. Set up your College Board professional account, carefully following the instructions here. Remember to use your school email address; you will also need your school CEEB code.
    2. If you already have an account, but have changed schools, edit your information by following these instructions. If you cannot sign in, access this Help menu.
    3. Request that your principal watch for your Course Audit Form, which your APSI consultant will help you complete, in order to expedite the process during your APSI. Your consultant will help you with all aspects of the Course Audit during the APSI, including careful review of the Curricular Requirements for the syllabus.
    4. Don’t worry; if for some reason you can’t get the Audit completed during the Institute, your consultant will display AP® Classroom for teaching about the site and showing navigation. You can also always sit with another teacher who has access to observe and explore AP® Classroom. We are quite used to this!
  4. Make sure to bring your laptop, along with files and activities from your own best practices to share. We love it when our participants share their favorite websites and activities in our APSIs!
  5. Most institutions prefer digital files nowadays and limit what we are allowed to print for our participants at in-person APSIs. I always prepare a Google Drive folder for my APSIs, but some consultants may prefer to share through a jump drive, so bring one along.
  6. Plan to engage in speaking and writing activities—which are often also activities that you can use with your own students—that are modeled for you.
  7. Speak up and ask questions! This is your time to learn, advance your own skills in teaching the course, and get your questions answered!
  8. Often, both new and experienced AP® teachers are present in the same APSI. Experienced teachers: Remember to be patient if you feel that you are hearing what you already know; new teachers need this information. Many consultants differentiate for this, just as we do for our students, or pair up new and experienced teachers. On the other hand, new AP® teachers: Learn from experienced AP® teachers, who bring a lot to the APSI as they share what has helped their students to reach the proficiency needed to earn those great AP® exam scores.
  9. Be prepared to work on a shared or individual project, usually an integrated thematic unit based on the Unit Guides, but also possibly your AP® Syllabus (new teachers), application of various instructional strategies, or an extended lesson plan. You may be asked to present and upload your work into a shared folder for all participants in your APSI. That way, everyone leaves with ready-to-use materials.
  10. Don’t forget to complete the APSI evaluation form toward the end of the 30 hours together. You will be sent a link. Note: You will not receive your APSI certificate without completing the evaluation form. It also will not be sent if the APSI institution has not received full payment of the APSI fee.


In conclusion, I love presenting APSIs and seeing the excitement in teachers’ faces as we collaborate and expand our teaching skills, all with the goal of helping students work toward increased proficiency and those high AP® scores!  APSI participants establish great new friendships while sharing a passion for teaching our favorite course. Together, we become a strong, wonderful APSI professional learning community!

To learn more about Vista’s AP® Programs and to request APSI workshop materials for workshop leaders visit

By Parthena Draggett


Also read:

Mid-Year Reflection and Goal Setting for AP® World Language and Culture Exams
Pre-AP® Support in Introductory Spanish Courses: Part One
Pre-AP® Support in Introductory Spanish Courses: Part Two
Pre-AP® Support in Introductory Spanish Courses: Part Three



AP® and Advanced Placement are registered trademarks of the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this product.

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