We all understand that a structure cannot stand without a solid base. And as language teachers, we know that regardless of the courses we teach, one of our principal responsibilities is to prepare students for the next level. With that said, pre-AP support in introductory Spanish courses begins the first day of level 1.
Why take AP Spanish Language and Culture?
Over the years, I’ve had plenty of students, teachers, and parents ask me why students should go as far as AP Spanish Language and Culture. Their argument is that there are several other alternatives to achieving language proficiency as well as earning college placement. My response is that AP Spanish Language and Culture courses are more rigorous and challenging than a dual-enrollment course and often sit at the top of high school language programs. The course is designed to help students build their academic proficiency, which will allow students to perform college-level academic tasks in the target language. This also benefits heritage speakers of Spanish, who can still gain higher levels of proficiency through the course content and student performance expectations. The course content foments the development, understanding, and appreciation of the cultural identities of Spanish speakers. Additionally, even for students who do not achieve a score of three or higher on the exam, the experience of having taken a rigorous AP course does more for them to prepare for college than not having taken it. So how do we help students prepare for such a course?
Preparing students for AP Spanish Language and Culture with a proficiency-based curriculum
Before the proficiency-based teaching and learning wave swept through our districts, I taught at a rather small school in which I was responsible for teaching levels 2 through AP Spanish Language and Culture. One frustration for me was that our grammar-and-vocabulary-list curriculum produced a few grammar experts, but it did not do much to prepare my students for the AP Spanish Language and Culture course and exam, which had already started to move toward a proficiency-based assessment. There was an obvious disconnect between the end of the district curriculum and the language proficiency expectations of an AP program. Consequently, before my district created a proficiency-based curriculum, I had to rework it on my own to better prepare students. My experience was not unique, and textbook companies have responded to provide proficiency-based materials for pre-AP courses. One of my favorite resources is Vista Higher Learning’s Senderos series.
Learn more about Senderos here.
Keep reading, part two of this article.
By Robert Collard