Foreign Language Credits 101: How to Earn Spanish Credits for College
Let’s face it, the college application process is downright scary. It’s a crowded playing field, and the competition is fierce. Regardless of where you apply for college, you will certainly enhance your chances of acceptance by demonstrating a passion for and proficiency in a second language. Genuine strength in a foreign language, like español, is a big deal to admissions officers.
In looking over your high school transcript, they want to see that you have chosen the most challenging coursework possible. Colleges seek students who are well prepared for college, because these students, if admitted, are more likely to persist and succeed.
Foreign language requirements vary from school to school, and there are a lot of gray areas. Is it enough to meet the minimum requirement? Are middle school language classes taken into consideration? What Advanced Placement (AP) test score will translate into the number of credits you need? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and more.
How Many Foreign Language Credits Do You Really Need?
In general, the prerequisite for competitive colleges is 2 to 4 years of foreign language classes at the high school level. If a college recommends “2 or more” years of foreign language studies, you can read between the lines and know that language study beyond two years will seriously strengthen your application.
Using the lingo of the college admissions process, let’s define what a “year” means to understand how many you’ve completed thus far in your studies. If you took foreign language classes in middle school, both your 7th and 8th grade years are likely to appear on your high school transcript as one unit (or one year) of a foreign language. In other words, middle school 1A and 1B are equivalent to high school 1A.
Which Language Should You Study?
This is the exciting part! While you may have the option to learn Spanish, French, Japanese, or Swahili, the key is to study the language that you are most interested in learning and using. Where on Earth do you wish to travel and explore? What language do they speak in that part of the world? Where would you like to study abroad once you’re in college? Take some time to reflect on these questions about your future to make the best decision for yourself.
If you need a nudge in the right direction, check out 6 Reasons You Should Learn Spanish!
No matter which language you choose, stick to it without jumping from one language to another. Rather, work your way up the levels of study to gain the most experience. College admissions panels are looking for proficiency in one language, not superficial knowledge of multiple languages.
Creative Alternatives to Traditional High School Spanish Classes
If you’re at a school that offers only introductory-level classes or you just aren’t getting enough out of your class due to a lack of resources or engaging teachers, it’s time to take matters into your own hands. Check out these alternatives.
Enroll at your local community college
Most community colleges offer evening or weekend courses that work with your high school schedule. Alternatively, you may be able to enroll in a morning or afternoon class that can be attended during a high school class period.
Dive into a Spanish-immersion course
Travel that immerses you in a foreign language is extremely beneficial. You learn Spanish as it’s actually spoken by real people. A quick Google search pulls up loads of immersion courses in Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica and throughout much of South America. For high school students, doing this over summer vacation or even during a gap year is ideal.
Personally, spending 3 weeks in a Spanish immersion course in Cuernavaca, Mexico is what really solidified my command of the language, although I had already studied Spanish in the classroom for several years. It was also a super fun and meaningful way to learn about Mexican culture and history. After that experience, I felt confident enough to identify myself as fluent. If you dedicate some time and effort to an immersion course, this could be your experience, too!
Pass the AP Spanish Exam with Flying Colors
In the eyes of most colleges, earning a 4 or 5 (and perhaps even a 3) on the Advanced Placement (AP) exam is a surefire way to demonstrate your language knowledge. This achievement indicates that you have adequate high school foreign language preparation. In many cases, your AP test score will directly translate to a certain number of foreign language credit hours in college. Check with the specific schools to which you apply. Take the AP exam at the end of your junior year so that you have the score by the time you are filling out college applications.
Not in AP but want to take the exam?
If you’re not taking an AP Spanish course, seek out programs that are designed to help you learn speaking, reading, and writing skills, such as Rosetta Stone and Duolingo. Another option is FluentU, which takes real-world videos—like music videos, commercials, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into Spanish learning experiences. Finally, an AP study guide can steer your self-study by targeting material that is likely to be on the exam. (Note that this method will only work for seriously self-motivated students.)
Take Online Spanish Classes
You want some really good news? It’s actually possible to earn college credits on your own schedule and in the comfort of your own home! Choose an online course that includes audio or video conferencing geared toward developing crucial listening and conversational skills that are often left out of the traditional high school curriculum.
Check Requirements and Policies
Although online courses are not for everyone, they are helpful for many language learners. However, each institution has its own set of requirements and policies. If you want to transfer credits to your prospective college, check to make sure the online classes meet the requirements of your institution.
Find Out What Works for You
Here are a few options to consider:
- The University of North Dakota offers Spanish 101 online for 4 credits, a course that takes 3 to 9 months to complete. The course aims to set a solid foundation for you to build from and eventually gain fluency. The class includes quizzes, assignments and three proctored exams.
- Oregon State University offers basic Spanish and more advanced Spanish culture, business and writing courses in 11-week sessions. In addition to watching video-based lessons, participants are required to complete a variety of homework assignments, quizzes and tests.
- The University of Phoenix offers two undergraduate level courses in Spanish, Conversational Spanish I and II. Each course offers 3 credits and lasts for 5 weeks.
- Here at Homeschool Spanish Academy, we offer online Spanish classes with certified, native-speaking Spanish teachers. It’s an affordable, interactive option to consider if you’re looking for a high-quality curriculum and guaranteed Spanish fluency. HSA gives students the opportunity to advance in their studies by learning at their own pace. Completing an HSA course transfers easily to a high school credit. If you already have the Spanish basics down, dive right in to the high school program! At the high school level, each lesson is 50 minutes long and integrates grammar and vocabulary with crucial conversation practice.
Get Started Now!
It’s true, all this studying and test-taking is hard work. Ultimately, it is worth the effort, because you’ll gain knowledge of a foreign language and earn college credits! If you’re not yet ready to commit to the HSA Spanish program, try a FREE class today with a live teacher to see if it’s the right fit for you. Download a sample lesson for a sneak peek at what you’ll be learning…and then ¡sólo hazlo!
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