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Spanish 1 - is this the norm?

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I would like to know what is a normal workload for a Spanish 1 class. (My dd is a ninth-grader.)

She is taking Spanish 1 at a local co-op. It meets once a week and the teacher is using Descubre. They will cover the first 7 chapters of the book in this course. Dd is spending over 5 hours a week on homework and studying. The teacher responds fairly quickly to emails. She gives quizzes each week. Recently there were over 100 vocab words (some review) in one week. Everything is graded - homework, quizzes, participation, etc. Dd is very stressed and her anxiety is climbing (not just about the Spanish). My dh took several years of Spanish in school and has a low opinion of Descubre. We are thinking of dropping this class and doing something else for Spanish 1. (We might enroll dd in a private parochial high school for 10th-12th.)

ETA: I apologize for the error. The over 100 vocab words were partly review words.

PLEASE give me your thoughts, advice, anything! Thank you!

 

Edited by oneddmanybooks

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It swings both ways - way too much or way too little. I think 5 hours a week on a class is about right. 100 vocabulary words seems high. My issue is how much conversation time does she get when she meets just once a week?

I love Homeschool Spanish Academy. I can schedule the classes to match our schedule. There is a lot of talking time!

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Thank you, Imrich. We had considered HSA and are still thinking about it. I doubt there is much conversation time (there are about six students). I said 5 plus hours but now that I think about it, dd is probably spending about 6-8 (she is keeping a time sheet but I don't have it handy.) How does HSA handle grading?

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I would not be happy with a Spanish class that took less than 5-6 hours to complete. I feel like that is a minimum required amount to make progress in a foreign language. My 8th graders are in Spanish 3 (with Descubre) and it has always taken them at least that to keep up. For Spanish 1 their class ended in chapter 7.

However! 1. They are young for the cycle, so they may not be as productive as they could be. 2. The teacher seems to think his class only needs 3-4 hours a week (can't imagine where he gets this), 3. He doesn't grade for "everything" 4. They never ran into an overwhelming vocab list, but they had some vocab already, so maybe that helped.

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Honestly? I’d be thrilled with such a class.

imo most foreign language classes are check the box, exposure type.

That said, my DS, also a 9th grader, would not, indipendently, do that much homework himself. I don’t think he stresses over anything ? so by design, most his foreign language classes meet at least twice a week, etc. 

ds does better if I tomato stake, ie study with him.

Edited by madteaparty
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I think a better question is, regardless of what is "normal" for anyone else or their student, is this particular course a good fit for your child?  

It doesn't sound like it is if it's causing that type of stress for your dd and your gut is making you question things as well. It really doesn't matter if it works for anyone or everyone else. It either works for her, or it doesn't. Adding together a few things in your post- your dh's opinion of the course book, the pacing, the workload, your suspicions.....I think you have your answer there. There are so many other options out there- I'd look into them. I am not saying don't challenge a teen- but there is challenge, and then there is overwhelm. Anxiety is usually a red flag of overwhelm. 

I just got to go through this myself last week with my dd in a Russian course, so I'm not just musing. Trust your gut. You might talk to the instructor and see if she has any insight- but you really have two choices at this point- scaffold her to the point that you are basically walking beside her in the course- and even then it might not work. Or pull the plug. 

Edited by texasmom33
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Thanks, madteaparty. I just cannot imagine having a child who doesn't stress over anything! I'm sure that has its downsides too. My dh is helping dd some with the Spanish class.

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5 minutes ago, oneddmanybooks said:

Thanks, madteaparty. I just cannot imagine having a child who doesn't stress over anything! I'm sure that has its downsides too. My dh is helping dd some with the Spanish class.

I feel like I learned too late you have to trust your instincts on the kid you have and the parent you are and ignore everyone (and I mean everyone, including this board).

It’s a process!

eta that mine stresses, but in the abstract ?his stressing doesn’t result in more work ? kuddos to your Dd. 

Edited by madteaparty
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Thanks, Texasmom33. I mostly agree with you. Dd isn't thrilled about her other co-op classes either (biology and algebra), although at least she likes the algebra teacher's personality. I think something that gives her more control over scheduling (perhaps HSA) would be good for her.

I know dd is anxious about me, since I was diagnosed a few months ago with an incurable, progressive disease. I am doing very well (much better than last year) on my new meds, but I think that word "progressive" is really weighing on her mind. The disease might actually not be progressing, due to my meds, but it's hard to know for sure.

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Just now, oneddmanybooks said:

Thanks, Texasmom33. I mostly agree with you. Dd isn't thrilled about her other co-op classes either (biology and algebra), although at least she likes the algebra teacher's personality. I think something that gives her more control over scheduling (perhaps HSA) would be good for her.

I know dd is anxious about me, since I was diagnosed a few months ago with an incurable, progressive disease. I am doing very well (much better than last year) on my new meds, but I think that word "progressive" is really weighing on her mind. The disease might actually not be progressing, due to my meds, but it's hard to know for sure.

So one of Ds’ languages we do exclusively as 1:1 tutoring online via italki (it took me a while to find a tutor I was happy with). There’s a textbook and hw. Just throwing it out there as a possibility, in terms of control over one’s schedule.

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17 minutes ago, madteaparty said:

I feel like I learned too late you have to trust your instincts on the kid you have and the parent you are and ignore everyone (and I mean everyone, including this board).

It’s a process!

 

These words are so wise!  Very, very true!  My son is in 11th and I feel like I just figured that out last year.  I still come here to ask questions, but I have to take the answers with huge grains of salt.  

OP:  How long do the other classes take?  

My son works slowly.  I’m taking him in for assessments very soon because I think he works too slowly and will need accommodations for it in college. But here’s how long things take for him:

Physics:  10 hours/week and he still falls behind.  We’re using Derek Owens, so he can go at his own pace, but I’m thinking he might have to extend into summer to finish the course, even with devoting 10 hours/week to the class.

Precalc: 8 hours/week.  More if it’s a week with a test thrown in.  Then it’s 10 hours.

Government:  Shew-only 40 minutes a day.  What a relief!  We just read a book together and he answers a few questions out loud.

English:  5-6 hours/week.  And he barely gets everything done in that time, because he reads slowly.  So, I keep that class as bare bones as I can.  

Computer Applications:  I thought he’d love this class, but it seems to be causing him the most stress.  I’m not sure why.  He says he’s afraid he’ll mess it up, but the way it’s set up is that if you mess up an assignment, you are allowed to re-do it and get a totally different grade.  So, if he messes something up, he can still get a 100% on it if he fixes the problem.  I had set aside 5 hours a week for it, but then by Friday he would be having to take 2 extra hours to get his work in (due on Fridays.). So, I’m going to bump it up to 1.5 hours/day to try to get him ahead.  So, 7.5 hours/week.

ASL (Sign Language):  We’re using an online program and are learning together. I set aside 1 hour per day for this class but it’s a lot of pressure to read everything on the website and practice in that 1 hour/day.  So, we’re going to start practicing a lot more in our daily conversations with each other.  So, 5 hours/week for now, but honestly we could use an extra half hour a day so it’s not such a scramble to get the work done.  5 hours/week, but really needs 7.5 hours/week.

 

For our ASL class, for the first week we loosely learned 100 words that week to get us going, knowing that the words would be covered again later in the year.  It was TOUGH to learn those first 100 words.  Usually it’s about 20-30 that we learn each week (plus about grammar/inflection/etc.).  30 words is manageable.

So, the 5-6 hours a week on the class sounds normal to me.  The 100 words in a week sounds like too much.  Is that common?  Were the words very closely related and groupable so they could be learned easily together?  

Edited by Garga
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15 minutes ago, oneddmanybooks said:

Thanks, Texasmom33. I mostly agree with you. Dd isn't thrilled about her other co-op classes either (biology and algebra), although at least she likes the algebra teacher's personality. I think something that gives her more control over scheduling (perhaps HSA) would be good for her.

I know dd is anxious about me, since I was diagnosed a few months ago with an incurable, progressive disease. I am doing very well (much better than last year) on my new meds, but I think that word "progressive" is really weighing on her mind. The disease might actually not be progressing, due to my meds, but it's hard to know for sure.

I am so sorry to hear that. I can't begin to imagine how tough that is all the way around. I would definitely imagine that could add to a teen's stress level for sure. 

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I don’t know. I think it all depends on your goals. Our foreign language class meets twice a week and the homework doesn’t take that long (an hour or two at most). Since I am using his particular class as exposure and I don’t have grand designs on this language, I am happy.

In contrast my friend’s child is taking Chinese at a local high school. She spends 5 hours a week in class and about 7 hours a week in addition as homework. I believe French is about 5 hours in class and 5 hours homework.

 

 

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53 minutes ago, Roadrunner said:

I don’t know. I think it all depends on your goals. Our foreign language class meets twice a week and the homework doesn’t take that long (an hour or two at most). Since I am using his particular class as exposure and I don’t have grand designs on this language, I am happy.

In contrast my friend’s child is taking Chinese at a local high school. She spends 5 hours a week in class and about 7 hours a week in addition as homework. I believe French is about 5 hours in class and 5 hours homework.

 

 

Yes, knowing the goal is very important.  If this is 9th grade and you want to count it as a full credit to meet graduation/college entrance requirements, then an hour or more a day is normal.

If this is supplemental and not for credit and meant to be fun, then you might want to consider a different class.  (Or you might want to consider a different class anyway, if it's just a flat-out bad fit.)  

 

Edited by Garga
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Grading homework, quizzes, and participation can actually go in your favor.  If she bombs a single test, then the entire grade isn't resting on that one test.  As long as she talks in class and does well on homework, a single bad grade won't bring her down too low.  There are probably other points of view in regards to grading everything, but the plus to it is that the overall grade isn't hammered as hard if one test is bombed.

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I teach Spanish 2 to my 9th-grade daughter using Español Santillana--full high school curriculum too. Daily, we spend about 30-45 minutes together daily and then she spends about that much time on the worksheets or reviewing material. We have weekly quizzes, and I grade homework and quizzes. Plus, she has 1-2 25 minute conversation classes with HSA for extra conversation practice. I honestly keep feeling like we could be spending more time on it, but we are aiming for fluency.

But, 100 new words each week doesn't seem quite right to me in Spanish 1.

Edited by deerforest
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While I don’t think the HW time sounds excessive given how little they meet, 100 new vocabulary words in one week does seem a bit over the top. A regular brick and mortar class probably meets every day and has HW too, so likely would require similar time overall. I think it depends on your goals as to whether you should stay or switch. With only meeting once a week, I can’t imagine she is getting much conversation practice. For me personally, that is the most important part of studying a commonly used language like Spanish. So personally, I would not consider the stress worth the likely end result. But your goals might be different.

I’m sorry to hear about your diagnosis and will be thinking of you and your family.

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Thanks SO much everyone! To try to answer some questions: it is a 1 credit course. Dd wants to go to college and that's what we want also. She does not know what she wants to study in college. I'm trying to get her to state if she wants to stay in the class. No answer yet (other than she hates co-op). One of the issues is that she wants to get 100% on everything, in every class. Sigh. Believe me, we have NOT encouraged this mindset.

eta - I will be surprised if dd ever uses Spanish outside school.

I appreciate the mention of italki, since dd would prefer to have a textbook. Does HSA use textbooks?

I'll try to let you know what we decide to do. Thanks again.

Edited by oneddmanybooks

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I teach Spanish 1 at a homeschool center.

Learning a foreign language does take a large number of hours per week.  In schools, they meet almost 4 hours/week (45 min/day or so), and there's homework every night.  My class meets twice a week for over an hour each time - I just can't teach the material in any less time.  I think that has limited how many people sign up for my class, but I honestly can't understand how these coop classes that meet for an hour can possibly teach a full year of high school Spanish - I guess unless they really pile on the homework.  I also don't grade that much.  I give a vocab quiz after every chapter and a unit test after every unit (2 chapters).  I do not grade homework, just correct it (although those who complete it all rather than just part do do better on the quizzes and tests...).  I'd rather spend they spend the already scant class time they have with me learning and reinforcing what they've learned rather than regurgitating. But I think that the material wouldn't be learned as well with just a once-a-week meeting - less talking, listening, and less actual teaching and explaining, and less motivating.  With that little class time, students would have to be really self-motivated.

For homework, I give about 5-6 worksheet pages each class (so, 2x/week) and tell them to use Quizlet to memorize vocab 5-10 minutes at a time.  I'd estimate that would add up to 3-4 hours of homework tops (but then, I have more class time, so the total amount spent on Spanish isn't that far off from what you're saying).  But I do have to say 100 words a week is insane.  Each chapter in the text I use has more like 50 new words, and last year I got through about 12 chapters (6 units)  in the text - it takes me about 5 classes/2.5 weeks to get through a chapter.  I'm not familiar with Descubre, but you say she only gets through 7 chapters in the year - so that's more than a month to cover each chapter.  So, are there 500+ vocab words in each chapter?  - that's how many there would have to be to get 100 new words a week out of the text... That can't be?  Where is she getting these words from  - is she adding way more to the text?

 

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I'm very sorry about your illness...  I hope the meds keep it from progressing!

100 vocabulary words/week seems like a lot!  Maybe she's being exposed to that many, but is not really expect to memorize them?

In any event, my kids all took a foreign language but never with me.  It was always outsourced, on-line, etc.  They worked harder on their foreign language than anything else, probably up to two hours/day.  But, they actually enjoyed learning a new language, so they'd rather spend that time with a language than math, for example!  I'm not familiar with the program you're referring to though.  I think the constant quizzes are typical with a foreign language, as is grading based on many different aspects of class.  I think the most important thing is getting the work done on time.  The rest will happen.

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