In Part I, I shared common concerns homeschooling parents have in regards to high school foreign language requirements.
We learned what questions we might need to ask as we walked the foreign language journey. In fact, when our family began researching foreign language possibilities twelve years ago, we knew nothing about what questions to ask or to whom we should ask our questions.
Our journey was hands-on and experiential--just like yours--meaning we learned by walking through the experience and making mistakes.
In this post, I hope you can learn--not only from our experiences--but the experiences of hundreds of families with whom we have encouraged. These are only samples of the questions YOU may find necessary to ask dependent upon your unique situation.
The foreign language journey with our first was fairly uneventful. Four of his five top university choices required two consecutive years of the same foreign language. By making sure he completed two years of the same language we would meet the requirements of every school in which he was interested.
It is also helpful to know that our son did not want to dual enroll, so that was not an option. Therefore, we researched every other potential avenue. In the end, he simply completed two years of Spanish with FLVS, an online public school.
During his senior year, he applied to six colleges in total, all required two years of the same language. In the end, he chose a local four-year university honors college. At the end of his senior year, the university requested I send the final copy of his parent-generated transcript.
Two weeks later, I received a letter in the mail.
"Your high school foreign language credits have been verified from a valid source. We have waived the undergraduate foreign language graduation requirements."
Fantastic! We didn't see this coming. Of all the homeschooling high school meetings and conference workshops I had attended, no one had ever mentioned there was a potential for a college to use the earned high school foreign language credits to fulfill undergraduate requirements (outside of dual enrollment). We were pleasantly surprised and grateful!
Lesson learned: High school foreign language courses may be used to fulfill the undergraduate foreign language requirement IF the courses are taken from an entity approved by the college.
Ask: From what entity could a student take foreign language and earn both high school and undergraduate college foreign language credit, aside from dual enrollment?
From our lesson with the first grad, our second son charted an intentional plan. Knowing university language courses can be more difficult due to depth of subject and amount of content covered in each class, we brainstormed with our young adult potential language options. He chose to follow the same path as his brother and take two years with the public online school. When he applied to attend a local state college, the admissions department asked for verification (transcript from the online school) that the foreign language was completed. They waived the foreign language requirement for his AA. Yes!
Interestingly, once our son earned his AA and continued seamlessly to the four-year university for the completion of his Bachelors degree (the same one from which our first graduated), I received a letter in the mail.
"Please submit the final high school transcript so that we may verify completion of high school foreign language."
Our second son had his AA and BS foreign language requirements waived because we had taken the foreign language from a source each school considered valid.
Side note here for those who wonder if the high school transcript is ever needed after earning an AA. In some cases (like this one), YES!
When our third high schooler began to consider foreign languages, knowing what we experienced with the first two graduates, her primary consideration...get it done in high school!
She, however, had an interest in American Sign Language. We had to look for an entity where she could learn ASL fluently. Interestingly, as we were deciding next steps, an email came from a friend, a certified interpreter, who was offering ASL 1 the coming year. I knew from research some universities won't recognize ASL as a foreign language. If they did recognize ASL as a language, they may not accept the means by which it would be taught.
As a mom, knowing what my daughter might face, I was hesitant to let her pursue this interest.
Yet, I knew ASL was a genuine interest and I wanted my daughter to have an opportunity to learn a language that mattered to her. We researched. I connected with one college asking if they would accept ASL as a foreign language. Indeed, the college verified in writing via email that they would accept the ASL. My daughter took the class, realizing that though one college of choice accepted the credit, another may not. They would not, however, used her ASL course to fulfill the university foreign language requirement for her undergraduate degree.
But remember, every situation is unique and individual depended upon the career and college choices. For example, last week, a family contacted me with a similar situation. A homeschooled high schooler had actively participated in the deaf ministry at their church where the student interacted and communicated with attendees who were deaf. Other studies were completed. The local state college told the family the student's studies would not likely be accepted for credit.
Again, what one college deems acceptable for foreign language, another may not. Ask questions.
What about learning challenges?
A student we know sought accommodations for learning challenges. The student was eager to attend college, however knew accommodations would be needed to be successful. The educational psychologist recommended the student, due to the significant learning challenges--dyslexia and dysgraphia--should be allowed to take a substitute course for foreign language.
Research and testing--on adult scales which most college require--provided information regarding documented learning challenges and foreign languages. In regards to significant learning disabilities and current, accurate documentation, some colleges may waive or offer substitute courses toward foreign language requirements. This is not true of all schools and is highly variable school to school. Therefore, parents must inquire and must be able to provide psychological reports as needed.
Ask: Are college admission foreign language requirements waived--or are substitute courses accepted--for students with documented learning disabilities (on adult scales)?
When we began our high school journey we had no idea what foreign language questions to ask. In most cases, we learned along the way, either by personal experience or the experience of families with whom we work closely.
And, with two current high schoolers (and several on behind) we are likely to learn even more.
Do you have experience with high school foreign languages which my help readers? Please share in the comments.
Up next, Part III.
This blog post is intended to offer an example of personal experience. It is in no way intended to be legal advice and should not be taken as such. Parents own the sole responsibility for the training and education of their children.