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Articles / Applying to College / Which Spanish Class Should I Take?

Which Spanish Class Should I Take?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | May 28, 2013
Question: I am a high school sophomore in Spanish 3, and I have an A, but that's only because homework and tests are weighted equally. My Spanish 2 teacher was horrible, and I'm not the only one who says so. He fell asleep 50% of the time, and we never had homework. SO, I'm struggling in Spanish 3. Next year, I'm considering AP Spanish, IB Spanish HL, or IB Spanish SL. What's the difference? and is IB Spanish SL a two year class?

Given your weak background in Spanish, it sounds like the IB Spanish Subsidiary Level (SL) class (which IS a two-year course) would be the best fit for you. You may find that both AP Spanish and IB Spanish Higher Level (HL) are too rigorous and demand better Spanish language skills than you've acquired so far.

Here is a Web site with some information about the differences between IB HL and SL Spanish. http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/IB_Spanish#Differences_between_HL_and_SL(Note that colleges often do not give credit for SL level classes; most will give it for high scores on AP or HL exams, although policies vary greatly.)


I suggest approaching the head of the Spanish department at your high school (or any good Spanish teacher at your school … not the snoozy señor ;-)) to ask for advice. These teachers should have a sense of the rigor of each class as it is taught in your own high school. As you have probably figured out, the difficulty of a high school class can depend not only on the curriculum but also on the teacher. Some teachers have higher expectations than others, and their classes can be far more demanding than a class with the exact same title that's taught by an “easier" teacher. So that's why it's important to ask a teacher at your own school to help you with your choice.

If you're worried that any Spanish class you take might be too challenging for you because of your weak foundation, check out local programs or online courses that you can pursue over the summer to boost your skills before next September. You don't necessarily have to take a formal class. You might find a program in your community–or a free Web site–that will allow you to practice your Spanish without feeling like you're doing school work during your vacation.

¡Buena Suerte!

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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