Upper-level French students prepare for collegiate learning

Katherine Lindgren

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Despite there being no Honors or Advanced Placement French classes, students in French 4/5 are learning at an accelerated pace to prepare for college-level language courses.

“Wherever they choose to go to college, they should be able to test out of at least two to three lower levels, and depending on where they go, that could be up to four semesters,” French teacher Camille Woods said.

In addition to their advanced learning, students will have a tangible verification of their proficiency in another language. The Kansas Seal of Biliteracy is received after a process of testing to prove a student’s foreign language skills.

“I think every student I have in four and five right now qualifies for the seal of biliteracy, several of them qualify because they speak English, Spanish and french. You can put it on resumes, you can put in on college applications. It’s on your diploma, it’ll be on your transcript, so employers, college scholarship facilitators, they will be able to see that this person is bilingual or trilingual, and it’s an amazing thing,” Woods said.

Not only does this seal benefit students who are in language classes, but also students who speak a language other than English in their homes.

“It’s celebrating also our heritage speakers, who function in English but in another language at home, and that’s what we really want. We have so many kids in this building who speak something else at home, and we want them to be proud of that, and we want them to be able to use that at school and in the workplace,” Woods said.

Another way students are measuring their competency in French is the National French Exam. This test is tiered, so language learners of all levels can see their progress.

“It’s a test they take within their own level, so some of them in the lower levels, and even four, they understand that perhaps they will see information that they haven’t learned yet in class. But it’s a national exam that helps students and teachers see how our students are functioning linguistically and with grammar, and it helps our students see where they stack up within their own level in the state and nationally. It’s a really nice test. Some of the kids are scared, they say ‘I don’t want to feel bad about myself’, but I think it’s actually a good way to boost your confidence,” Woods said.

In addition to honors and resume builders, Woods believes foreign language classes give students a new perspective on the world and the people around them.

“It opens doors. It helps you appreciate people around you, it helps you appreciate the differences that you see in other people and I think in our world today, that’s extremely important. It also opens doors to other cultures, other experiences, travel, work, school, the possibilities are endless when you are able to speak more than one language.