Depending on who you are, the Spanish language can be very complicated. At Oceana, we offer 5 Spanish courses where the most advanced course is AP Spanish, currently taught by Ms. Finucane.
As you read this article, keep in mind that like many others, my experience in this class is influenced by my background. Being already fluent in Spanish, I’m very aware of the advantages I’ve had in past language courses. However, in AP Spanish, my struggles with the language became more apparent. But the beauty of this course is not only does it help you work through those struggles, but also puts an enormous emphasis on the language spectrum.
When we begin a new unit, we are introduced to a new topic as well as an essential question (EQ) that ultimately guides student exploration throughout the unit. Then, we are introduced to around 10-20 vocabulary words that range in difficulty which are ultimately seen in our texts.
Throughout the unit, we embark on an analysis of the EQ by looking at different sources. This usually includes:
- 3 text-based sources
These sources include short stories with in-depth themes that highlight the EQ, and real life excerpts from books, magazines, and articles. There is a set of comprehension questions for each text. Usually, the texts are around 2-3 pages (occasionally, texts will exceed these limits) and are dense with challenging word usage, concepts, ideas, or underlying messages.
- Other sources include audios, videos, music, and films.
Example: Films such as Como Agua Para Chocolate.
The unit comes to an end two to four weeks later and finalized with an assessment.
What I have found most meaningful in taking this course are the topics we cover. In past language courses, the focus of the curriculum has always been to learn a skill with exercises in class. However, the material we discuss is relevant and interesting. These topics include education, travel, food and culture, personal relationships, economics, and themes like alienation, and assimilation, etc.
Knowledge of Other Cultures.
Additionally, it has enhanced my appreciation of the Latin American world and its cultures. The sources you explore in class are usually written or created by real-life Latin American authors, scholars, poets, etc who write from their own experience which gives you an authentic idea of their culture.
Vocabulary and Skill Growth
This course has really allowed for me to expand my vocabulary beyond just the basics. I am able to participate in the more in-depth conversation about current issues going on in modern day society. Furthermore, this class has allowed for me to practice skills such gathering and citing evidence, presentation skills, and annotating.
The homework in the class is very manageable. Depending on how productive you are in class and your Spanish skill level, the class gives very minimal homework. Usually, it consists of reviewing class readings, beginning a new reading, reviewing vocabulary or studying for an assessment.
Yes, AP Spanish entails preparation for an AP Exam (And if you pass, college credit too!).
While the activities we do in class are geared towards helping us prepare for the AP Exam, the class does not directly spend a lot of its time going through practice questions. We are provided with an AP Exam Practice workbook, but it’s up to you to put in the time to study.
On occasion, Ms. Finucane will assign homework online. As someone who prefers to scribble and annotate her readings, especially when they can be very challenging, it can be a struggle to comprehend the text online. For many, this isn’t a struggle at all but it can be for people who prefer physical copies of their work.
My recommendation to prepare for this course or to study for the AP Test would be to read Spanish books throughout the year. It will vastly improve your reading skills, which will be an enormous benefit for taking both the class and the exam.
In the end, anybody who is willing to put in the effort has the potential to succeed. It’s true. Ask questions and seek help when you need it.
Feel free to Snapchat us with more questions or leave a comment below if you are going to take this class!