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Spanish class goals from primary school to senior year

From Jon, published on 20/02/2018 Blog > Languages > Spanish > Spanish: What you are taught in the national education system

Spanish is the widest spoken foreign language in the United States! This is because it is the first language of immigrants and our neighbors to the south. For this reason, it is the most popular second language chosen by students.

The Spanish language is spoken in 21 countries around the world and relatively easy to learn because it shares similar roots with English.

But let’s face it, Americans are not known for their talent to learn a new language. That’s why the National Education is trying to boost foreign language studies in the national curriculum (spoken Spanish, listening comprehension, phonetics, pronunciation, etc.).

How to take a Spanish class? In the language learning starts as early as kindergarten!

Learn Spanish in primary school and junior high

Spanish learning in junior high allows students to understand, write and speak traditional and conversational Spanish.

Spanish vocabulary (Spanish words and phrases), Spanish grammar (adverbs, adjectives, possessive pronouns, personal pronouns, syntax, alphabet…), conjugation (tenses, verbs) and spelling are only one part of linguistic training!

Keep a positive attitude to learning Learning Spanish in junior high gives you a foundation in language and writing.

This is because learning a foreign language is largely based around spoken training and Spanish conversation. And don’t forget the importance of learning Spanish and South American culture (literature, painting, history, geography, politics, and civilization)!

Ideally, students should aim to understand, interact, and express themselves in the Spanish language in their goal of fluency. Training in a foreign language opens them up to another culture.

In learning Spanish, students will acquire a valuable communication tool to travel or work in the USA, and the rest of the world (particularly the Spanish speaking countries of Europe and Latin America: Spain, Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, Colombia…). They will know how to speak to a native speaker easily.

The Spanish program in junior high delves deeper into the language, with more frequent training in reading and oral and written expression.

Want to take private lessons in Spanish on the side? Discover how to choose the right Spanish teacher…

Spanish language and culture: an indispensible duo for becoming bilingual!

When you are a beginner, studying the Spanish language isn’t just training in grammar rules and verb memorization all the time!

No, the language of Cervantes and Picasso is before else a rich civilization, full of important historic figures including Salvador Dali and Frida Kahlo. It comprises beautiful countries and landscapes, from the vibrant capital of Madrid to the beaches of Puerto Vallarta…

This is why students, throughout their primary school studies, learn to:

  • Speak about their daily life in Spanish via story telling, explication, description of facts, debates on current events…
  • Communicate verbally using polite, everyday expressions and phrases.
  • Analyze using various materials and resources, such as music, poetry, and films.

The aims of most Spanish teachers center around 3 points:

  1. Study Spanish to express yourself and understand others.
  2. Study Spanish to discover and meet others.
  3. Study Spanish to develop arguments.

These 3 points add to other notions that students must absorb:

  • Everyday Spanish vocabulary to do with meals, time, family, professions, transportation, numbers, distances…
  • The arts: Spanish literature, music, cinema, and art…
  • Geographical points: mountains, rivers, countryside…
  • Heritage: monuments (Alhambra, Sagrada Familia…), Spanish and South American traditions, gastronomy…

All kinds of music and parties are available in Spain The study of Spanish civilization in junior high… source: visualhunt.com

This vast and challenging program is developed between 6th grade and senior year (and more for those who decide to take AP or college-level courses, or continue into university and beyond).

If you plan to go as far as university, you’ll need supplemental instruction on Spanish literature, and other cultural studies, as well as a more rigorous training in grammar and conversation. Better get those flashcards ready!

Spanish language program in junior high

From 6th to 8th grade, the Spanish language program allows students to improve their linguistic abilities, from verbal to written expression and comprehension, through quizzes and other types of testing.

So let’s dive a bit deeper in the depths of this scholastic program, whose final goal is to bring each student closer to fluency of the Spanish language:

  • Spanish alphabet: well yes, Spanish speakers possess their own alphabet accents! There is the famous “tilde,” mainly found over the “n” like this: ñ. And also the double “l” as in “Cómo se llama.”
  • Punctuation: students discover early on that exclamation points and question marks are sometimes inversed in Spanish! Examples: “¡Estoy aquí!” and “¿Cómo te llamas?
  • Hours, dates and seasons
  • Prepositions, adverbs, and connecting words
  • Personal pronouns, the formal voice (USTED and USTEDES in plural).
  • Numbers and adjectives
  • Gerunds and associated expressions
  • Qualitative adjectives and possessives
  • Present indicative and subjunctive
  • The foundational verbs “ser” and “estar”
  • Spanish verbs and tenses
  • Expressing habit and repetition

Junior high school students revise aspects of Spanish civilization throughout their training:

  • The professional world
  • Spanish in the world
  • Important Spanish and South American cities and monuments
  • Local lifestyle and food
  • Spanish media
  • Famous works of art
  • Famous people in the Spanish speaking world
  • Humanitarian activism

Cubism Pablo Picasso: emblem of Spanish culture.

At the end of junior high, students should be capable of exchanging basic information verbally and in writing, and understanding the gist of a simple text.

A foreign language is not just a grouping of words, tenses and grammar rules. It’s a whole universe to learn! 

In high school, private lessons in addition to the regular Spanish course could become useful, especially to prepare for college entrance exams. Discover how much a private Spanish lesson costs

You have to choose the right Spanish instructor to help you learn a second language. To do so, we recommend figuring out your expectations and communicate this clearly to your teacher candidates. Questions to discuss are your aims, his or her methodology, where you will be working, etc.

Once you have found the right teacher, he or she will prepare individualized classes to help you learn to speak Spanish. That might mean more focus on Spanish verbs or conversational Spanish, depending on the learner. You’ll go from being an absolute beginner to advanced Spanish in no time at all!

Spanish language program in high school

The program of high school Spanish instruction is naturally more complex than in junior high. The students should possess intermediate level Spanish, although they are probably not bilingual in English and Spanish.

The goal? To be prepared for college entrance testing: the SAT II in Spanish, AP Spanish test, or your final exams!

As for junior high, the high school Spanish program cannot be explained in a few lines. Still, here are a few points that students will learn between their freshman and senior year:

  • Nouns, suffixes and articles.
  • Indirect speech and tense agreement
  • The conditional and imperative tenses
  • Subjunctive imperfect and pluperfect tenses
  • Qualifying adjectives, superlatives
  • Negation and restrictive construction “no…si no”
  • Aspects of action
  • Personal and impersonal obligations
  • Expression of desire, need and regret

In terms of Spanish civilization, students might encounter aspects of the following in a Spanish test:

  • Spain
  • Latin America
  • Important cities in Spain and South America
  • Legends and tales of the Hispanic world
  • Economic and social Spanish life
  • The modernization of cities
  • The Spanish Civil War and its heroes
  • New family roles
  • Latin American dictators

big-architecture Spain has beautiful cities, like Madrid!

 Aims of the high school Spanish program

The objective of the high school Spanish program is to make students more independent in their practice of the Spanish language. They must become actors in the learning process and not just spectators!

At the end of high school, students should ideally be able to:

  • Engage verbally in discussions of two or more people.
  • Understand the majority of verbal messages: debates, radios shows, news on television, etc.
  • Present, formulate or readapt a work on paper: synthesis, presentation, etc.
  • Be able to give a point of view and opinion in Spanish verbally and in writing.

At the end of their training, students should be able to comment on a document, and know about the history and culture of Spanish speaking countries.

They must also be able to understand more complicated speeches, verbally present an artistic or literary worktake part in a debate, discussion or even read a text to a speaking partner with little difficulty.

Students today are lucky as they benefit from new technology to help them learn how to speak Spanish. This includes free Spanish lessons in YouTube videos, podcasts, and a variety of other Spanish online tools. This permits them to learn Spanish fast.

YouTube videos are great because you can hear the words pronounced by a native speaker in many cases. This gives you a true picture of Spanish vocabulary that you won’t get in your Spanish class textbook. Instead of learning conjugation on paper, listen to how correct verb usage sounds with your own ears!

Because they are unlimited, videos allow you to learn Spanish online at your personal rhythm: when you wake up, in the car, while you eat lunch or exercise, or at night before sleeping… On YouTube, you can benefit from Spanish tutorials (made by Spanish language teachers, native Spanish speakers and Spanish enthusiasts) and find free Spanish lessons and exercises.

The choice of Spanish online videos seems almost infinite: with over one billion internet users that access YouTube every day – and who also post videos – it is impossible to quantify the number. Some examples include PolyglotPablo, 123TeachMe, Why Not Spanish, Maria Espanol, Spanish101pod.com, Learn Spanish with Paulino, Professor Jason, ProSpanish, and a personal favorite, Tu escuela de español!

With all of these resources, you have everything you need to do well on your high school Spanish courses and exams. We applaud your aspiration to learn the Spanish language to become fluent. Happy studying!


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