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What is the standard for high school level foreign language?

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It seems like some things I'm seeing defines high school level foreign language as anything learned in high school regardless of difficulty. But at the same time, I realize that there can be different goals for different programs and the students who use them. Does learning a language on a strictly conversational level count for high school level? Do you need to pass an SAT subtest in the language for it to count? Are there any standards for what qualifies for _________ I or ____________ II or whatever level you assign to your language? Is there a case to be made for homeschoolers who don't want to replicate a high school language class at home but want to learn a language differently? (Perhaps through immersion but not with specific grammar or written practice.)

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Generally speaking, every year of a traditional foreign language course will include grammar, speaking, listening, reading, and writing, with cultural knowledge interspersed. Grammar and vocabulary are usually emphasized in the first three years, with the fourth year focusing more on literature read in the language.


Yes, there are accepted standards. For example, Spanish I usually covers the present and preterite tenses of regular, irregular, and stem-changing verbs. Some schools don't meet that standard, and their students end up behind going into Spanish II, III, etc. That's why so many "A" students who completed four years in high school get to college expecting to go into 3rd year Spanish and then test into third semester, instead.


If your dc is planning to try to get retroactive credit from his college or wants to be placed in an advanced course, he will need to pass a placement test which will certainly include grammar and reading skills, as well as speaking and listening. I suggest that you also expose your dc to grammar, reading, and writing in the language so that if he wants to study it at the college level or use it in the workplace he will not be at a disadvantage.

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I think some languages will get a student farther in reading and writing than others. For example German and French are closer to English than Russian. And I found Russian to be easier than Japanese.


The problem I see with being only conversational would be twofold. First they might not finish their studies with the skills expected. This might cost them credit or placement or even money. We knew a couple military officers who were fluent Japanese speakers and used that skill daily in their job but who didn't get language pay because they didn't have the reading skills.


My other concern is that you are leaving out some powerful modalities for learning. There is a lot of good feedback from reading another language and trying to write in it. I still think one reason Japanese was harder to pick up was because I couldn't read anything. So there was no picking up a word here or there from context. (think about how many kids learn Stop as an early word)


From the reverse side my kids learn to speak Latin aloud to improve learning not because they expect to chat with anyone in Latin.

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