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    problems with Spanish class
    By Carolyn

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    Cathy-Dee has some good ideas. I taught middle school Spanish for one year in Charlotte, and it was the roughest year of my teaching career. Most likely, it was the age group, but I had had this age group before. The problem you face with teaching a foreign language is that kids are not there because they want to be. They are required in high school to take it if they want to get into a decent college.

    I heard all of the time how "boring" Spanish was. I had a lot of discipline problems as a result of that. I tried to change the structure and methods of my class and involve the students as much as I could. I didn't see an enormous amount of improvement in the kids' behavior, but I did see an improvement in participation.

    Kids should have fun in Spanish, or any foreign language class. Teach the grammar (which they hate), but don't spend your entire class focusing upon it. One very successful high school French teacher I know broke her class period into quite a few blocks of time, with different activities, which made the time pass more quickly for the students. I observed a group of students who were very engaged and happy to be in class the day I watched her class. She had some very interesting projects going on with the kids.

    I would not worry a great deal about their learning all there is to know about speaking Spanish. They are not going to learn it in the short amount of time they are taking it in high school. Many will not even go on to take any more courses in Spanish once they leave high school. I'm afraid that the class will have to be made entertaining, to a degree, for the kids not to act up. As long as it's not a state tested class, you don't have to worry a great deal about academic progress.

    Also, don't be afraid to involve your parents in the students' behavior. I am sure that your school must also have an after-school detention program.

    Good luck and keep us posted.

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