Language Learning Curve

French teacher discusses new changes in curriculum

Amy Collins, Staff Writer

The Blue Valley district language program has been implementing changes in the program since 2018 and is continuing with the next phase this year.

“We have gone to creating thematic units with no textbooks with a level each year,” French teacher Carol Bar said. “Level 1 started in 2018, and then we implemented Level 2. For the 2021-2022 school year we implemented Level 4 so [this] year we will have Level 5 and then AP 6 [the following year].”

Not only have the levels changed but the content is also changing.

“We are now using authentic materials for absolutely everything, so we don’t rely on old textbooks,” Bar said. “Everything we use is from the countries of the target languages we’re teaching.”

Before 2018 students who had completed their language in middle school would come into high school and start at level 2.5 and then would go on to level 3 their sophomore year, Honors 4 their junior year and then AP 5 their senior year, but this is changing.

“Students who complete [Spanish or French in] grades 6,7 and 8 will have completed two full years of their language and enroll in Level 3 at the high school level — as a result, we are now going up through AP 6,” Bar said. “It’s a much more comprehensive and fluid program now.”

Freshmen who completed Level 3 last year will start in the new Honors 4 this year and sophomores who completed Level 4 will go into Honors 5 this year.

“Sophomores can get weighted credit in Honors 4 and Honors 5 as a junior,” Bar said. “[Honors 5] is not only offered for weighted credit but also for dual credit with the College Now program as well as AP.” 

Bar pointed out another reason the district decided to make Level 4 a weighted class.

“There are high schools in our district that do not have feeder schools for their given languages,” she said. “Blue Valley North and Blue Valley High are the only two that have a French feeder so when kids come to us in Level 3, we needed to be able to take them up through Level 6. [At] Northwest, West or Southwest, there is no feeder school in French so when those kids got to be in level four as seniors, they didn’t have a weighted credit option, so they would have never been able to receive weighted credit for their language courses.”

Bar believes there are many positive advantages to the new changes. 

“The cool thing about this new curriculum is that all languages in our district are implementing the exact same thematic units across the board,” Bar said. “Now, regardless of the language you choose to study, whether it be French, Spanish or Chinese, there is a lot of consistency. Kids can take their language skills to a higher level. Teachers are able to collaborate across languages so there’s more support for teachers.” 

Bar offers these words of advice for students partaking in a language.

“Go as far as you can in your language study — I do not recommend that students bounce between languages,” she said. “The goal colleges want to see, and even employers, is that you [have] achieved an advanced level of proficiency.”