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Question about AP language tests, specifically French

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We are in a small jr. high co-op, and the other 3 moms and I were discussing plans for the next few years. We were discussing language plans, and the mom who teaches that said that if we wanted to do AP French (so that our kids could hopefully pass and get out of college language requirements--we are in VA, so I know even the state schools have higher requirements that other states), then we needed to start next year so that our kids could have 5 years of French--French I-IV, and then a year of AP French. Is that pretty standard? Five years of a language to do well on the AP exam? Languages are NOT my thing at all, so I have absolutely no frame of reference on this. The mom who teaches is proficient in French (majored in it, worked as a translator), and is very competent in Spanish as well, so she obviously does know what she is talking about. But I just thought 4 years of language in high school would be sufficient, even for AP? Gah, so much language just to get out of it for college! Has anyone taken the AP French exam and can give me their take on it? Thanks!

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I think she is probably correct.


I did want to point out, however, that I would look at various unis and see what foreign lang req they actually have. For example, when I took dd to VCU for their open house, they told us that as long as a student had 3 yrs of one foreign lang that their foreign lang requirements were satisfied. Only students admitted with 2+2 or fewer yrs of foreign lang (out of state students) were required to take foreign lang courses (unless obviously tied to their major).

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The high school near us has the kids take 6 years before the AP test -- but I think their classes are a bit slow compared to what we took back when I was in high school (where we did 4 years before the AP test).


You don't need AP for college entrance, just whatever number of years the college requires (and even then, a lot of students get in with less -- colleges tend to be forgiving if it's a student they want).


However, there are also a lot of colleges that require some college level language for graduation for all students (not just certain majors). The AP test would likely give college credit, but so would college placement exams, which are generally a lot less stressful than the AP exam. Many, many colleges have placement exams for entering students, and lots of colleges will allow students to place out of the college graduation language requirement with these exams.


Given that, I'm not sure the AP exam is really all THAT useful, except that it might give the students something to work toward.


But you might want to check about specific college policies on placement exams. You also might want to check to see if the AP test is even accepted for credit.

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I think for a typical student, 5 years would lead to a better AP score. In my hs, the kids who did AP language started in middle school, and then did AP French their senior year.


But talent and drive definitely can play into it. I took French AP and Spanish AP in high school, but languages were my thing and I didn't need all that time to do well. I needed only 3 years of hs level to be able to score a 5 on each. (I did take an additional year of French and took the French literature AP as well, but I think they no longer offer that).


I did "place out" of language at my college, but I remember I had to take a test to prove my competency; neither AP sufficed for my picky college. I actually became a French major. :-)


Later, in graduate school, I taught French to (Yale) students who had not passed out of the language requirement. Almost all of my students either had no language or whatever they had had was negligible, so obviously it's possible to get into even a great school with a lousy language background.

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You can see on the OSU German courses that it goes I, II, III, IV, then AP.


When contacted, the teacher said that it was possible to do the AP after III if the student had immersion experience, eg with living abroad.


I'm not sure how the content compares between French and German...You might be able to compare on the site Kathy in Richmond gave in another thread about French to check vocab and grammar (though that is not all the same due to differences in the languages)...It might give you a rough idea though.


I think it also depends on student interest and capabilities...learning a third language can come more easily...certain people have less inhibitions about making errors and just throw themselves into the experience, etc.




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Never took the AP test (weren't so popular back in the dark ages), but I was waived from the foreign language requirement all three ways possible at the time:


1. Score over 700 on the SAT II for the language

2. Have attended school in a foreign country (can't remember if there was a time requirement)

3. Have taken 4 years of a language in high school (most schools didn't offer 5 then - I did take 5 but the 5th was at a local college, so I think the req. then was 4).


Have no idea if the AP is now the only way to get out of it? But I would agree that 5 years is a reasonable amount to expect to really get good at a language - and even then it's a good idea to seek out some kind of immersion experience to cement things.


But I never used that waiver; I used all that high school langauge to start my college studies at the 300 level and easily got a minor on both languages. :D

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