New Spanish life skills class coming to curriculum

Through a collaborative effort with College of Dupage, AT will soon welcome a new dual-credit Spanish course called Heritage Spanish: Career Fluency. The class is an advanced course designed for higher grade levels and it allows students to earn college credit through COD. 

AT World Language department head Amy Robles described the main goal of the course, “The class is designed to prepare students to use Spanish in their career or in their workplace after high school. 

“Some students are planning to go to college to study a different career branch, some students are planning to go straight into the workforce after graduation, so we wanted to design a class that met both of their needs.” 

The course is a new approach to learning Spanish, as it will focus on vocabulary used in a professional workplace setting. “It’s designed to build their vocabulary for different industries and also continue to teach grammar and increase language proficiency in Spanish with the intent that students will be able to have a job shadowing opportunity during the second semester in, hopefully, an area that interests them careerwise,” added Robles. 

The class is an addition to a variety of other Spanish courses offered at AT, however, it is the first dual-credit Spanish course offered. Co-college and career coordinator Shane Cole explained the difference between the format of AP and dual-credit courses, “If you pass the class with a certain grade, you get the credit. 

“The Advanced Placement, which is also valuable, you still have to pass the exam in order to get the credit. Not every school takes a 3 as well, some of them choose to only take a 4 or 5.” 

“The dual credit class is like a departure from that traditional ‘Let’s just learn and teach to pass the test.’ I think dual credit is more attainable for a lot of kids, especially students who may have poor test-taking skills or high anxiety when it comes to a high stakes test,” added co-college and career coordinator Mario Fernandez. 

The course will be offered at AT, but it is a collaborative effort between COD and district 88. Robles shared how the idea originated, “It was proposed by Willowbrook High School World Language department head Katherine Strand-Carroll and director of biliteracy Erica Craig who came up with the idea and they presented it to College of Dupage. 

“COD decided to accept the proposal and now all of us are working together. We’ve had a few meetings where we discussed curriculum, goals, different textbooks, different materials, and how we want the class to look, so it’s kind of a collaboration between COD and district 88.” 

Dual-credit courses are extremely beneficial to students, as they can allow them to earn college credits, which means students will save both money and time when they go on to college. “I think it’s very beneficial to students because we’re partnered up with the College of Dupage, where we’re able to offer three credit hours per semester, so it’s a full year course, it’s six full credits. 

“Not only is it six college credits for the College of Dupage, but also because this is designed to be an advanced Spanish course, you’re going to get advanced Spanish credits,” explained Robles.

Spanish is a language spoken in many different countries and it varies from culture to culture. Someone who was born in Spain, for example, is used to a different variation of Spanish than someone born in Mexico. 

Fernandez, who is a Spanish speaker himself, shared his opinion on the course, “I think it’s great because as a Spanish speaker myself and a heritage Spanish speaker, I learned very quickly in my career that the Spanish we speak at home is not the same Spanish that you need in the workplace. 

“Specifically in a workplace where you’re in a white collar setting. When we can learn to speak Spanish in a more professional setting, it gives us more credibility.”

Students who decide to take the course should keep in mind that it is one of the higher level courses offered at AT. “It’s definitely an advanced course, but I think it might be more meaningful for students if they’re focusing on an area that interests them in their future that could be quite motivating for them, so while yes, it is advanced and challenging, I think it will be very beneficial to our students,” explained Robles. 

Although the class is not offered yet, students are already showing interest in it and express their excitement about the new opportunity. “I talk about it a lot in my AP Spanish Language class, in which I have both juniors and seniors, and I hear more from the seniors who are not going to have the opportunity to take this course. 

“They wish that it could have been a course that was available to them last year because it would have been something they would be interested in and they would sign up for,” shared Robles. 

The new course is an innovative expansion to the list of Spanish courses offered at AT and it will help Spanish speakers to prepare for their future careers, as well as offer opportunities to earn experience themselves. 

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