The USA has a time-standing and close relationship with its Latin American neighbors to the south. Although separated by the sea, we still share a common heritage and history.
There are currently 41 million native Spanish speakers living in the US today, and another 11.6 million people who are bilingual. And remember that the language of Cervantes is the second most widely spoken in the world today, with close to 400 million native speakers and 1,175 billion speakers across the planet, from Europe to South America.
This is why Spanish is the most popular second language taught in American primary schools, high schools and colleges.
Spanish language skills, the third most spoken language in the world langue, and the second language of the USA, would be a huge bonus on anyone’s CV. Everyone would be impressed with your fluency in English and Spanish.
But first things first: you have to take your Spanish course and learn Spanish to pass those university entrance exams….
To do well on standardized testing, you must work on written, oral and spoken comprehension in the Spanish language (that means Spanish vocabulary, grammar and accent). Unfortunately, these tests are not known for being easy. And the USA does not have a particularly glowing reputation for foreign language instruction.
All students looking to enter university must take the SAT. But you can also opt to take additional subject tests, in everything from Sciences to English. This includes Spanish! It is a great way to highlight your knowledge of Spanish and demonstrate your interest in the Spanish language during the college admission process. It may also give you a head start in college by allowing you to fulfill basic language competency requirements or place out of introductory-level Spanish courses.
The test consists of 85 multiple choice questions in one hour. In order to succeed, it is recommended that you have at least two years of strong preparation in Spanish. The test targets three main areas: vocabulary and sentence structure, reading comprehension and paragraph completion.
According to the College Board website, the skills you’ll need to do well on the Spanish test include:
Remember that this test is comprised of only reading. But there is also the Spanish with Listening test given in the month of November. Here there is a listening portion, where you listen in Spanish and answer multiple-choice questions. While students tend to feel more anxious about this part, they actually tend to do better on this.
Test taking is never fun! source: visualhunt.com
Just like all subjects, from European History to Fine Arts, Spanish and other languages are part of the national AP (Advanced Placement) Program. AP enables students to pursue college-level studies while in high school, each course ending with a rigorous exam. This means that you won’t have to take those credits in college if you opt for that path.
The AP course in Spanish Language and Culture takes a holistic approach to language proficiency, and prioritizes comprehension, comprehensibility, vocabulary, communications and cultural awareness together. The six groups of learning objects are defined as such:
The College Board defines these communication modes as such:
“The Interpersonal Mode is characterized by active negotiation of meaning among individuals. Participants observe and monitor one another to see how their meanings and intentions are being communicated.”
“The Interpretive Mode is characterized by the appropriate cultural interpretation of meanings that occur in written and spoken form where there is no recourse to the active negotiation of meaning with the writer or speaker.”
“The Presentational Mode is characterized by the creation of messages in a manner that facilitates interpretation by members of the target culture where no direct opportunity for the active negotiation of meaning exists.”
There are two sections that each count for 50% of the final score. The first is multiple choice and includes 65 questions in 1 hour and 35 minutes. There are two parts that include interpretive communication in print and audio texts. The second section is Free response, that lasts 1 hour and 28 minutes, and also comprises two parts, the first being written tasks in interpersonal writing (email reply) and presentational writing (persuasive essay), and the second spoken responses in both interpersonal speaking (a conversation) and presentational speaking (a cultural comparison). Students will be given time to prepare for each.
Time to revise for Spanish!
These tests are challenging and you’ll need more than a free Spanish course on YouTube or a Spanish online tutorial to do well.
In addition to national standardized tests, each state has it’s own testing system, such as the Spanish Second Language Proficiency Exams on the New York Regents. This also calls for a proficiency in Spanish grammar and Spanish speaking.
But if you want to leave the national education system completely, there are tests such as the National Spanish Examinations. According to the website, these online, standardized tests for Grades 6-12 are a motivational contest to recognize student achievement in the study of Spanish and to stimulate further interest in the teaching and learning of Spanish.
Administered by about 4000 teachers across the USA to measure performance (interpretive communication) and achievements for students who study Spanish as a second language. It is also used to assess the national standard and stimulate further interest in teaching and learning Spanish.
In the Spring 2017, a total of 162,321 students registered, making it the most widely used Spanish test in the US. Many teachers use these examinations to prepare their students to take other standardized tests such as AP Spanish and the SAT II. It is also widely recognized by teaching associations, including the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and placed on the NASSP National Advisory List of Contests and Activities for 2016-17.
So this is a good option for students who wish to learn to speak Spanish for professional goals. Do you want to become a Spanish teacher and give your own Spanish lessons one day?
There are also some options for Bilingual Students, including the Avant Spanish Heritage Languge (SHL) Test for Grades 7-Adult. This online exam places intermediate level and advanced Spanish heritage speakers. According to the website, it highlights each test takers’ strengths and weaknesses in key academic language areas that are unique to Spanish heritage speakers. This includes vocabulary, grammar, Spanish verbs, spelling, Spoken Spanish and writing proficiency in Spanish.
Study Spanish abroad in Mexico! source: visualhunt.com
Outside of the National Education system, there are other options for language learning certification. You may even be able to take an online Spanish course to prepare.
Diploma of Spanish as a Foreign Language (DELE)
This is a degree of qualification in Spanish language granted by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport of Spain. The exams are organized by the Instituto Cervantes and Universidad de Salamanca, and preparatory Spanish courses are given in schools in Spain in Barcelona, Granada, Madrid, Salamanca, Tenerif, Valencia, and Alicante.
According to the website this Spanish course diploma is divided into six levels:
Total immersion is a fantastic way to learn Spanish fast. Of course, the downside is the fees – travel to Spain and lodging among other costs means that you will have to have a budget to study Spanish abroad.
Each class is different of course, but they focus on the same main topics and subjects, including written and spoken comprehension and written and spoken expression. For this, you’ll need to revise the fundamentals in grammar (Spanish verbs, conjugation, tenses, adjectives, etc.), Spanish phrases, vocabulary by themes and conversational Spanish. Flashcards are a great method for the Spanish learner to review a number of things.
Get help with a private instructor! source: visual hunt
Most Spanish classes last several hours per week, but it can be difficult for teachers to give each student personalized help. A Spanish tutor or private instructor can be very helpful to see what each student can do to improve his or her level in a new language, correct shortcomings and prepare for exams in class.
Extra language training can be especially useful for conversation-focused lessons to do well at the oral sections of exams. It might be a good idea to learn how to speak Spanish with a native speaker, who can improve one’s Spanish conversation skills by teaching new Spanish words and phrases.
Why not start your search at Superprof, which employs Spanish teachers and tutors with a wide array of educational backgrounds and degrees to assist you with your Spanish learning?
And of course there is always the option to learn Spanish with free lessons on the Internet. Although not as effective a method as a personalized, in person lesson, there are some options to learn Spanish online that will complement your other training. But be careful, some free Spanish lessons advertised online are only gimmicks.
Whether you are preparing for a national standardized test or your final exam in sophomore Spanish or some pop quizzes, it is key that you are relaxed and not stressed. But a small adrenaline rush can help give you a boost at the time of the exam.
Still, you’ll need to find a way to deal with your angst and not be a slave to stress. There are several options, including deep breathing, food supplements or homeopathic remedies.
You should feel less stressed if you have prepared regularly throughout the year and are not cramming at the last minute. Ideally, three hours per week is ideal, and more during school breaks. A Spanish tutor can also help you structure your time and study sessions to be as efficient a learner as you can be!
Who knows what great things await you if you can learn a new language and speak Spanish?
You’re one step away from that cap and gown!