This student was put into a 3rd year class as a Novice-Low. Not ideal at all. I even wrote about this challenge. Read her thoughts about this experience and how they’ve changed from day one (August) to more recently (March).
My first day of Spanish class was very frustrating, and different. When I walked into the Spanish room, everyone was speaking a language I did not know. I tried to understand, but I could not comprehend most of the words. Then, we went around in a circle saying Spanish words for vocab. I had learned many new words by doing that. It was my turn to say something, so my teacher said, “Adios” for my word. I had known that word meant goodbye. The hand signal was someone waving a hand. Everyone else said a word, and then an index card was handed out. After the directions were specified, everyone immediately started writing words in Spanish on it. I tried to look at what they were doing, but all the words were different on the people in my group. Someone in my group tried to explain it to me, but I just did not comprehend it. I felt very frustrated because I did not know what was happening. I felt like I wanted to just give up, but I did not. I just kept trying my hardest. ”
My feelings about Spanish class have changed tremendously since the first day. On the first day of Spanish class, I was very frustrated because I did not understand anything and I did not not what to expect. Now I know that it is okay if I do not understand something, and just try to comprehend what is happening. I also get help from other people to understand which I did not know how to ask for help on day one. I definitely feel more comfortable now. I am able to ask for help when I need it. In addition, I do not get as frustrated when something is very confusing. I can understand a lot more words now than on the first day. Since I have learned so many new vocabulary words, when other people speak them, I know what they are saying.
Some things I still have no idea what they mean, but I am able to pick up a few words on what they said to infer what they said. I think I am able to understand a wider range of vocabulary words now because I have learned many new vocab word. On the first day I only knew colors, some numbers, and some classroom objects (from the youtube videos). Now I have learned some animals, transportation, phrases, feelings, and a lot more words. In addition, I can comprehend words that are similar to English. I am excited to go to Spanish now because I am ready to learn new words, play games, and know I will not understand everything at first.
At first, I did not think or like the idea that my spanish class was going to have varied levels with students that had been taking Spanish for 0, 1, or 2 years of Spanish. I did not think that it would work and I would not be learning anything and just be confused all the time. Now after having Spanish for 2 quarters, I have realized that having so many goals and levels would actually be better than having everyone on the same level. This way works really well because everyone can learn from each other. First year spanish students and I are able to listen to more advanced speakers and learn a lot of new words by it. If it was not like this, we probably would not learn as much since we would only be learning from the teacher. It is also good to be working towards different goals since we can help one another reach them. We are able to work as one community because everyone can speak different words and help to teach the rest of the class. If someone wants to say a word that they do not know or remember, another student could help them out with what they want to say. I am glad that Spanish class has varied levels and goals.
One of the successes that I had in Spanish class was when we were describing the video on the paper airplanes. I had to describe the video when the video was paused. I was able to write a lot about the video with the vocabulary that I had learned. My writing was in sentences or attempted sentences or phrases. This was a success for me because I did not just make a list of words describing the video, but I attempted making sentences. Later on a different day, we watched a video and had to compare to the paper airplane video. This presented another success because I was able to come up with ideas that added to what my group had on our comparison poster. Instead of just agreeing on what they had thought of, I was able to participate with the group more than I had before. I also described something that I wanted to write to someone in the class, and they helped me find the correct word I was looking for. This was a success because usually if I did not know a word, I just would not say it, but this time I tried describing it.
-Hannah Goldthwait, Grade 8