Bien gracias y tu

Bien gracias y tu

Written by Delaney Coleman, News Editor

Getting all of the necessary credits to graduate can be stressful, and this includes two foreign language credits. Lockport offers various languages for students to try and advance in: Spanish, French, German and even Japanese. There are wonderful things to gain from allowing students to make a choice in which language they wish to study, such as an eagerness to learn. There are also extensive benefits from taking the time to learn these foreign languages that enrich our minds and open us to new views of life. A lot of the Spanish teachers here at Lockport have traveled and spent time learning in foreign countries. 

However, there are some especially frustrating aspects of the curriculum that should be inspected and corrected. Discussions of foreign countries and cultures are included in lesson plans, but there are many students that find it extremely frustrating that they do not know basic conversational language during the first two years of languages. In the United States, about 13% of the population are native Spanish speakers. Because it is on the rise, it is important to learn basic conversational language in order to communicate with people. It could be beneficial in instances where a student encounters a language disconnect at work, school, or even shopping. It helps us create inclusion and acceptance in all communities. Of course learning about other cultures is important, but having a solid foundation of the language is vital to be able to communicate effectively with others outside of the classroom. 

My own personal experience with Spanish courses at Lockport started off great! Even during the times classes were mostly online, my teacher Mrs. Connolly, did the best she could to keep us engaged and having fun. My love for the language started sophomore year with Ms. Benito’s Spanish 2 class. Everyday we had a fun activity and a different way to learn that wasn’t strictly busy paperwork. We also learned about different cultures and festivities, and this class was never the cause of a bad day for anyone. 

Junior year I selected Spanish 3 and was extremely excited to learn and move on to AP for my senior year. But unfortunately, due to the experience I’ve had, I will not be continuing with Spanish at all. 

Everyday from the first day of school in our original Spanish 3 class was filled with educational fun and I knew this was my favorite class. Maybe it could be something I would decide to major or minor in when I go off to college. But the day that it was decided for us that we would have a new teacher, the atmosphere of our once idyllic classroom was never the same. Of course it was no one’s fault, just a scheduling conflict. A conflict we had to pay the price for.

It must be understood that, especially foreign language classes, must have an easygoing environment for optimal learning. Anyone who has taken a Lockport Spanish course would know that these classrooms are not traditionally supposed to be silent. There should be talking and constant discussion because being comfortable with the people around you makes it so much easier to attempt to talk to others in a foreign language. Let’s admit it, it’s so awkward. Everyone is afraid of getting it wrong and making a fool out of themselves. There must be no fear of judgment in order for learning to happen. There must be laughing and silliness. It must be fun! Stifling these aspects of the class truly make it difficult to want to be there and have the courage to try. The first few weeks of these classes are getting to know the teacher, peers and making the class fun. Would I still be ready to take AP Spanish next year?

An anonymous student in the class reported that after the first semester, we have been told to stay silent for long durations of the class period, the majority of work is online, and ample time is spent on para empezar (to start) activities. When a question is asked, all that is received is blank stares. Focus on Spanish accents while we speak and much of the Spanish culture has been completely forgotten. Learning is crammed into “review days” right before exams. The amount of Spanish that is actually spoken in this class is appallingly low. 

In addition, there is no incentive to do the homework because it isn’t worth any points, and it’s extremely boring. A lot of students can still have an A in the class without doing the homework. 

Because of the change, about 24% of students in this class have decided not to move on to Spanish 4 or AP Spanish next year because they do not feel prepared. 

Are students’ voices really being heard when there are concerns being addressed? 

In hopes of a change being made, I went to numerous sources asking for help, yet no change with the class occurred. A lot of my other classmates felt the same way about this and made it clear when we spoke up about it. The issues should have been addressed better by either having a conversation with the teachers involved, or administration should have come in to observe the class. 

Additionally, I believe we should have been offered the option to drop the class if the transition didn’t fit with us, especially since the change was not our choice. It also would have been beneficial to us if our suggestions for how the class should be run would have been taken into consideration.

Just because we aren’t as old, or experienced as the staff at Lockport, does not make our voices any less valid. Many students can properly say that they have long days, just like teachers. They work, just like teachers. A lot of students have some difficult things going on in their home lives, just as adults do. We are just as important and our voices are just as valid. Please listen when we have something to say otherwise our education suffers.