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6 thoughts on “Question”

  1. The unspoken problem, a problem of massive hypocrisy, is that the AP director in schools, the AP teacher herself and the kids and the principals all know that the kids’ scores won’t be reported until July. So who cares what they are? The many kids who fail with a two or one just toss the score into the trash, others say, “Hey! I passed the AP exam!” and on goes their summer. They never cared about the score. I know a colleague in CO some years ago whose 22 students all got 1’s on the exam. No biggie. The benefit had already been harvested – the kids all got to to put “AP” on their college application. That’s what they wanted. Nothing else – just another tool to get into college. Colleges have already built the schedule for the incoming freshman so why change it over a score that gets sent to the college weeks before the kid arrives on campus when the campus is still in its summer slumber? It’s a nice financial win for the College Board Corporation, the kids and their parents win, regardless of the kids’ score, the school wins bc they offer the exam (how impressive!), the district admins win bc the school offers the exam and maybe they get points somewhere up the ladder, and the hypocrisy continues. If the exam isn’t a moneymaker it gets dropped (ex. French Literature exam). It’s pretty clear what the AP exam is all about.

  2. Just some thoughts off the top of my head …
    How many students start in Language 1 (German/Spanish/French/Chinese)?
    How many students take the AP course?
    How many students in the AP course actually take the exam:?
    Teaching explicit grammar in Language 1, 2, or 3 so that students can write high-level essays on the AP exam – and this is the reason given in the question for teaching the grammar – benefits how many students? And does a disservice to how many more students because they will never write high-level essays in the Target Language?
    When do we teach students grammar in their native language?
    How many hours of language input and output have they had before they start getting the “grammar rules” needed to write high-level essays?*
    What we are really teaching in those classes are the conventions of formal writing. How many of our students will do formal writing in the Target Language?
    Do we then sacrifice everyone else on the altar of formal writing in the Target Language for the benefit of the one or the few? That’s what we have done for generations in our education system. It seems to me, though, that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one.
    *High-level is a sliding scale; what may be considered low level to a university student would be high level to a middle school student. I know there are issues of cognitive development, but guess what? The basic grammar is still the same. The ability to write a high-level essay is dependent on knowing the conventions of logic and presentational writing as well as being able to understand information presented in a variety of formats – and those don’t depend on conscious knowledge of grammar.
    If someone believes they must teach explicit grammar to prepare students to take the AP exam, then I recommend the Anne Matava program: do it in the last couple of weeks before the exam. That way, it falls into the three-month window of retaining conscious knowledge and follows manipulation of the language and relies on a body of knowledge that students possess but may lack convenient labels for.
    And I agree with Ben that College Board is all about being profitable – just like the textbook companies and other corporations trying to dominate or break into the multi-billion dollar education market.

    1. Besides, if the students who plan to take the AP Language exam are serious, they can come to the the after-school study sessions. All of the other AP courses in my school expect students who are taking their exam to come to study sessions after school, in the evening, or on the weekend. That way, they are not taking class time away from students not taking the exam.

      1. I agree that if they are truly motivated to take the AP exam, which these few students usually are, it’s perfectly acceptable to tell them that they need to do the independent study outside of class. That’s what I do with my few students who wish to take the AP exam. Very few actually do, even in the Spanish program, which is much larger, and has an explicit “AP Spanish” course. Even in that case, there are only a handful of students who take the exam.

  3. I had been contemplating this for a while myself. Not so much the AP exam essay, just having the class in general. They’re forcing my to make a class, I had 4 students this year in AP french 4. 4 students. They combined it with my french 3 for a whoppimg total of 12 students. Im suggesting to my AP to have a preAP french 3 and then I will push the students to apply to a summer in France, where they can earn 4 ap credits. There are a few programs out there that will give scholarships to low income kids(my school). I hope we can get that going, to get away from the exam itself.

  4. Not that I think the AP Spanish Language test is useful, but it has changed over the years (I’ve gathered, having only looked at it the past couple of years). There are no discreet grammar exercises. It’s mostly comprehension based, though in SAT style reading questions. The output activities, I believe, are graded more on the ability to communicate ideas with a range of vocabulary and less on the accuracy of language, or grammar.
    And for the Spanish test, with all the heritage speakers and native speakers taking that test, it’s really hard for a non-heritage or non-native to compete.

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