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Rebecca

Foreign Language and High School Course Selection

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I am trying to pick courses for my rising sophomore daughter for next year. I am having such difficulty.

She has a  mixed expressive/receptive language disorder from a private psychologist. Is it true that she should be exempt from the foreign language graduation requirement? The psychologist stated she would write a statement as such.  I will receive more feedback from assessments done at Kennedy Krieger in a couple of weeks - although I am a little hesitant and wondering if I will need to get a second opinion based on the initial conversation/appointment. I am deeply interested in if I should pursue exemption from foreign language and what that will mean for her future.

She doesn't know her path yet; we are thinking a start at the community college (dual enroll by senior year)- and perhaps becoming a certified bookkeeper. She is an introvert and very good at math. However, she also expressed interest in sports therapy or athletic training/injury prevention.  She dances 8 + hours a week and loves to create work out lists for friends and family, etc.

She is my fourth high schooler- and I always plan high school with the end in mind. I am struggling!

-Rebecca

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Are you homeschooling? If you are homeschooling, do you need to follow your state graduation requirements? Is foreign language actually required?

I falsely thought that foreign language was required in our state; in actuality, it is an elective. Universities usually require it, but it is possible for there to be exceptions.

My kids with language disorders -- DD13 has dyslexia, and DS15 has pragmatic language issues and a reading comprehension disability -- are not planning to take foreign language in high school.

 

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So there's strong crossover with MERLD and ASD, which you may have already pondered. Not everyone with an ASD label has the significant level of language disability you're talking about. My dd in college finds her language drops when she's tired, and of course college students are constantly tired. She had significantly low word retrieval when the neuropsych did his testing. They didn't diagnose her with a language disabil, ity, but the issues are significant enough that they are totally defining her directions and what she can do. They affect her ability to get out her writing for all her classes and now we're hitting the wall (going into her junior year) where she will either have to suck up and do 2 years of spanish (which we don't recommend) or take some kind of funky alternative degree. 

So my dd is not labeled exactly like yours, but I can tell you that doing a foreign language for my dd was a HUGE energy drain, a constant fatiguer, and not leading to something she was ever going to be successful at. She could sorta memorize for a test, but she couldn't SPEAK it. She literally could not. I got her a conversation tutor trial class, and after two years she could not sit in front of the monitor and say HI my name is... blah blahbl, kwim? Her whole system shut down.

My ds has severe apraxia and can talk but he has so much better use of his time learning ENGLISH. How remediated is your dd's language disability? I can tell you, trying to work with my ds, that there's this SEVERE DROPOFF in materials when you want to work on syntactic complexity. So where is her reading comprehension? Unless she is age-appropriate and IQ appropriate (as gauged by a non-verbal IQ test, not a verbal one), I would put your energy into english.

The other thing you could do is just try very gingerly. Like get a little something you think might work and see what happens. Try several ways and just say hey, I wanted to see how this could work for you. You could try a conversation class, Muzzy, Duolingo, different types of inputs, and see what happens. But if the psych is saying don't do it, I wouldn't do it. The distraction, the strain, the stress is just not worth it. Like for my dd, we're literally saying are you going to slog through 2 years or it end up in this totally other funky major at the end because it's not worth it? What it did to her before was NOT WORTH IT.

Ok, so here's the other thing. I'm gonna be really radical here. You already know, having done this before, that Carnegie units are time spent. So you could conceivably do 2 years of a language but do it with a focus on culture and do whatever aspect DOES work for her. Like if she is better with visual, then look at picture books together in the target language. Say you picked spanish. You could get preschool level picture books and do cultural activities every week. But I would not slog through a regular curriculum.

Put your more serious energy into what she REALLY NEEDS. How is her reading comprehension? How is her ability to write her thoughts? How is her ability to intersect with print material she will need to use for independent living? How is she with leisure skills that involve language like reading a magazine, reading a book for pleasure, posting on FB, or doing a word search? Leisure skills and independent living skills are going to be much more important than what that transcript says.

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Thanks so much.

I am homeschooling. It is required in my state for graduation from state approved/accredited programs i.e. private school, public school, diploma programs; my three older sons were/are in a diploma program- so it was definitely required for them. DD is not going to be in that same program. So, I have to fully investigate if it is required. Geometry is also a graduation requirement as is Biology.

I thought it was required for college, etc.  Like I wrote above, the psychologist immediately offered to write a statement/ letter to exempt her from the requirement.

Good points about independent living skills. Such good points. Thank you so much.

Rebecca

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I have no idea what your daughters specific strengths and weaknesses are, so this may not be applicable, but have you considered Latin?  If you do a barebones approach, not only will you never have to speak a word of Latin, you really don’t have to write in Latin either.  (Sentence translation, yes, free-writing, nope.)  Memoria Press has curriculum for elementary/middle schoolers that is very straight forward and clutter-free.  Perhaps the logic of Latin would appeal to her mathematical mind?  Start at a low level, go slow and just fill the hours required?    

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13 hours ago, Storygirl said:

Are you homeschooling? If you are homeschooling, do you need to follow your state graduation requirements? Is foreign language actually required?

I falsely thought that foreign language was required in our state; in actuality, it is an elective. Universities usually require it, but it is possible for there to be exceptions.

My kids with language disorders -- DD13 has dyslexia, and DS15 has pragmatic language issues and a reading comprehension disability -- are not planning to take foreign language in high school.

 

It's now required in WA for high school graduation. Obviously, homeschooling is its own set of laws though. I think the trend is going to be towards requiring FL in high school. Not to mention even many state colleges require 2-3 years of FL for admission. I'm not sure how to get around that with a waiver. I get that you might use a waiver where graduation is concerned, but wouldn't colleges just refuse to admit without it?

OP: Have you considered sign language? I know several dyslexic students have been successful using sign language for the FL college admissions requirement.

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My dyslexic plans to do ASL, but it's not required for high school graduation here, just college admission.  Probably the easiest way to get away the requirement for college is to do community college first and transfer, but I don't know.   

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5 hours ago, FairProspects said:

It's now required in WA for high school graduation. Obviously, homeschooling is its own set of laws though. I think the trend is going to be towards requiring FL in high school. Not to mention even many state colleges require 2-3 years of FL for admission. I'm not sure how to get around that with a waiver. I get that you might use a waiver where graduation is concerned, but wouldn't colleges just refuse to admit without it?

OP: Have you considered sign language? I know several dyslexic students have been successful using sign language for the FL college admissions requirement.

I am totally not an expert, and I don't even have college aged children yet (but soon -- eek!), but here is what we've been told by DD13's dyslexia school (which does not even offer foreign languages, but has graduates go on to college):

If a student goes to a school where foreign language is not offered, so that they have not had an opportunity to take it, colleges will not hold the absence of foreign language credits against them for admittance.

That is the blanket statement offered to parents at the school.

I'm adding my own caveat that, of course there may be (and probably are) colleges that would still refuse to admit. And also, that what is true for our state /area may be different than what happens elsewhere.

Once the student is admitted, there still may be foreign language requirements to meet at the college level, even if high school foreign language was skipped. Having the letter of exemption from the psychologist is probably a good idea. Colleges are going to really vary in how willing they are to accommodate for disabilities, though. Just because a psych wrote a letter doesn't mean they will grant the exemption for their programs. I haven't been through the process yet, but we've been told that there are colleges in our state that are better than others when it comes to disability services.

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I just checked out two books about transition planning.

They both say — contact admissions offices and ask if the university has a “policy for waiving or substituting these requirements for students with disabilities.”

They also both say — “careful consideration must be made as to the policies and procedures for course substitutions at a particular college and the requirements for learning specific degree requirements within the college.”

The book I’m reading now says also, if a student transferred the new school might require the language even if the previous one did not.

 

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My oldest has some auditory processing issues. He slugged through his language requirements for high school graduation but is specifically targeting universities where foreign language is not required. Specifically, one can use either Calculus 1 or a software programming language as a substitute. For him, this works.

FWIW, all of the case tenses in Latin were way harder to teach than Spanish. Since Spanish has one set of sounds for each phenome, pronunciation isn’t that difficult. For my next kid in line, we are definitely heading Spanish > Latin. That kid also has significant math issues so substituting in calculus in not a likely option. 

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TBH about my next kid in line, he may also not get through foreign language and may be graduating with a “modified” diploma in which case community college or vo-tech will be his next options. Our time/energy/intervention efforts must be prioritized and foreign language skills aren’t #1, #2, or #3 on that list for him. 

I alternate between freaking out and feeling pragmatic about it all.

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On May 21, 2019 at 12:09 AM, Rebecca said:

I am homeschooling. It is required in my state for graduation from state approved/accredited programs

Have you looked at what your state does for kids with IEPs and language disabilities? My ds has an IEP and it sounds like your dd would if she were enrolled. Then what would they require of her? 

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My local uni doesn’t have a foreign language requirement for entering students.  Look at potential schools and discover how they manage their foreign language exemption.  When I attended uni, my programming classes were subbed for foreign language.

My DS took one horrific year of high school Spanish with a native speaker, and then opted to do two years of something technical.  In son’s case, it was Drafting I and II.  He kept copies of his work in case any organization wanted a portfolio.  As it turns out, ACT scores were more important than foreign language.  DS was accepted to every school he applied with scholarship, and he will be seeking foreign language class substitutions soon.

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24 minutes ago, Heathermomster said:

he will be seeking foreign language class substitutions soon.

Does he have something in his psych paper trail saying he should be exempt from foreign language requirements? I'm trying to figure out the norm on how that is done and how you make that request/demand and how enforceable it is. It would seem *reasonable* but is it part of ADA or something that that happens? A norm or policy somewhere?

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 We discussed the language substitution with DSS last year, and they indicated that it would not be a problem.  He’s been consistently diagnosed dyslexic since late 1st grade.   If the university chooses to perform an about face, we’ll reevaluate son’s presence at that campus.

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17 minutes ago, Heathermomster said:

 We discussed the language substitution with DSS last year, and they indicated that it would not be a problem.  He’s been consistently diagnosed dyslexic since late 1st grade.   If the university chooses to perform an about face, we’ll reevaluate son’s presence at that campus.

Yeah the challenge for us is that we don't have any paper trail saying she's out of language. Her language drops by 5pm and she clearly has issues. She literally couldn't speak it and taking the classes killed her. But getting documentation to prove something so weird is tricky. 

 

 

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I firmly believe there is always a workaround for foreign languages for kids with LDs. Document the disability and ask for waivers. Ask for alternatives- there are always more than you think available. 

There is no need to think that the inability to learn a foreign language is a bar to either admission or graduation from college.

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