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Old 08-04-2010, 07:55 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
38,744 posts, read 37,204,368 times
Reputation: 28715
Quote:
Originally Posted by golfgal View Post
No, he did not. In fact, he did not take a foreign language until he was in college. He went to a high school that graduated 50 kids, they didn't have the option to take a foreign language. I know MANY adults that have become fluent in a foreign language, having never taken one before, as adults. Also, most students don't take any foreign languages until they start high school and they become fluent. My husband took high school Spanish, never took anything else before, ended up with a great high school teacher and tested out of 3 years of college Spanish so he ended up with a second major in Spanish. You are just wrong, sorry.
I would suggest that anyone with an interest in this subject do some reading about it, instead of relying on the anecdotal evidence of a few people that they know.

Second language acquisition - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Both theories agree that children have a neurological advantage in learning languages, and that puberty correlates with a turning point in ability. They assert that language acquisition occurs primarily, possibly exclusively, during childhood as the brain loses plasticity after a certain age. It then becomes rigid and fixed, and loses the ability for adaptation and reorganisation, rendering language (re-)learning difficult.

In other words, while the OP's daughter COULD become a fluent speaker of Spanish starting at college age, the odds are strongly against her unless she is prepared to make a lifelong commitment to functioning in a Spanish-speaking environment nearly all the time.

Studying the language in school, without any kind of cultural immersion, will create almost no capacity to "speak" the language. In my own case, I studied German for two semesters in college, and a few years later I moved to Montreal. I could speak French better after two weeks in Quebec, than German after two semesters in the classroom. The OP's daughter will not learn any Spanish fluency at all in college. But she will learn some basics and some confidence that she can apply to learning Spanish if she is ever in a place where she can use it. It would be very unrealistic and probably counterproductive to assume that after a couple of years in college taking a few semester hours of Spanish, she will be able to get off a plane in Caracas and discuss Venezuelan politics with her cab driver. Or even ask if her hotel has a pool.

Every student in Canada is required to take 12 years of the "other" language in school. Yet, even then, there is not one person out of ten in Canada that can carry on even the simplest conversation in both English and French. Because most never apply the language outside the classroom. I studied both Inuit and Mandarin for two semesters in credit courses at college level, with passing grades. Guess how good I am now at speaking those languages?

Last edited by jtur88; 08-04-2010 at 08:17 AM..
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Old 08-04-2010, 07:59 AM
 
Location: Texas
28,106 posts, read 22,881,067 times
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Spanish. More useful in more situations.
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Old 08-04-2010, 08:02 AM
 
Location: Texas
28,106 posts, read 22,881,067 times
Reputation: 33577
Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
I would suggest that anyone with an interest in this subject do some reading about it, instead of relying on the anecdotal evidence of a few people that they know.

Second language acquisition - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Both theories agree that children have a neurological advantage in learning languages, and that puberty correlates with a turning point in ability. They assert that language acquisition occurs primarily, possibly exclusively, during childhood as the brain loses plasticity after a certain age. It then becomes rigid and fixed, and loses the ability for adaptation and reorganisation, rendering language (re-)learning difficult.
Actually, I was just discussing this with a language specialist friend of mine who was quoting research that said the opposite - that focused adults are completely capable of becoming fluent in another language and that the reason it seems easier for children is because they have so much more to learn that it seems like they are acquiring information faster.
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Old 08-04-2010, 09:13 AM
 
Location: Earth
3,456 posts, read 4,729,490 times
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I agree^^. Research is no more compelling than anecdotal evidence. Moreover, you do not want to discourage people who might be able to develop native fluency by telling them that it is impossible or, even, highly unlikely; any good teacher knows that.

Add me to the "anecdotal evidence" that is countered by "research." Just b/c "research" dictates that adults cannot learn a lang does not make it so; there are many people who can and have gained native fluency in one or more langs as adults. I imagine there would be more if people weren't always telling them that it was impossible b/c "research" says it's so. In fact, as above poster has stated, "research" is beginning to swing the other way b/c of all of the "anecdotal evidence" that contradicts it.

And, no, it did not take me decades of immersion. It took four years of study and about three years of immersion. And I was never exposed to foreign langs as a kid. However, I always had the aptitude and excelled when I was finally given an opportunity (i.e. when I met people who encouraged me and didn't tell me that it was impossible).
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Old 08-04-2010, 11:01 AM
 
870 posts, read 782,590 times
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I think we can all agree that attaining fluency has to do with whether or not you can really use the language outside of the classroom. As far as native fluency, I have no idea. However, I know that all my years of high school Spanish didn't actually make me fluent because I never had to use it outside of class and at that point in time wasn't that motivated to use it outside of class.

I'm not sure if they had Univision or Telemundo on cable when I was growing up, but I definitely think that would have helped me with listening when I was in school a little less than a decade ago.
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Old 08-04-2010, 11:23 AM
 
Location: Chicago
5,552 posts, read 8,713,810 times
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w/ all this talk of fluency, I didn't pick up anything in the OP's post that the daughter is looking to become fluent in either language, that this is just for class credit. if the OP's kid really wants to be fluent in Spanish, then she should take high school Spanish w/ the idea that she'll need more than those classes to become fluent in the language. I know she's young, but if she's serious about becoming fluent in a language, she needs to put in the effort now, and by effort, it's not just taking and passing a high school course (for example, the OP may want to consider vacationing in a Spanish speaking country, or even just spending tons of time in an area of a major city where residents are mostly Mexican/other Spanish speaking natives).

desire to become fluent should be the major criteria for choosing the language b/c that desire will go beyond high school. it will be much harder to become fluent in Latin unless she pursues it beyond the high school classroom. Latin will have some short term benefits (though I haven't taken Latin in almost 10 years and the knowledge I picked up is still useful to me) but it isn't as useful in real world application as Spanish is. depending on what your child wants to do for a career, some sort of fluency in Spanish may be helpful (but on the other hand, some knowledge of Latin is useful in other career paths). personally, I took both in high school and the Latin was more useful to me, but then again, I was more interested in Latin to the point I took up Latin-based extracurricular activities. I stick w/ my original opinion that if she has no desire to be fluent, she should pick Latin
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Old 08-04-2010, 11:30 AM
 
417 posts, read 619,001 times
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I am the OP and we've decided to let her take Latin, since she wants to and we have no reason to stop her. That really was the bottom line call. If the school has space (Latin, apparently, is polular!) then she will move to Latin. If they don't then she will stay in Spanish. Thanks for the input.
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Old 08-04-2010, 12:14 PM
 
Location: Fairfield, CT
4,152 posts, read 4,279,268 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taben View Post
One of our children is slated for spanish for high school. She took it in middle school and did fine, but never really 'took' to it. The advantage of sticking with it is that it would likely be an 'easy' freshman course to handle while also juggling advanced/honors classes for all of her core classes, a team sport and other things.

However, she is now thinking of taking Latin instead. She is weak in vocab, and is thinking Latin may help her in that regard.

Other information? They are required to take 2 years of a foreign language. She likely will not take more than 2. Again, thus far it has not been her interest.

So, for those who have been there and done that: Which is the better choice, spanish or latin and why? Also, is latin REALLY hard? I took it in high school and remember struggling greatly with it, but then again that may simply have been because I was weak in that area.

Any advice is appreciated!

Taben
I took 2 years of Latin in high school, as well as 4 years of Spanish.

I don't really think of Latin as a 'foreign' language so much as a way to relate better to our own language. Latin has a lot of uses, but I don't see it as a substitute for a language like Spanish. I think you take the two languages for different reasons.

Is there any way she can continue her Spanish, and supplement it with Latin? I have to say, Latin is a lot harder than Spanish, so that might be a factor.
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Old 08-04-2010, 04:40 PM
 
Location: Houston, TX
15,517 posts, read 15,154,703 times
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Depends where you live. In Texas I'd say Spanish, if you think law school is in the future then maybe Latin. DO you want a 'functional' skill to converse and communicate or a learning resource.
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Old 08-04-2010, 04:49 PM
 
Location: Sinking in the Great Salt Lake
11,246 posts, read 9,579,858 times
Reputation: 10238
Quote:
Originally Posted by taben View Post
One of our children is slated for spanish for high school. She took it in middle school and did fine, but never really 'took' to it. The advantage of sticking with it is that it would likely be an 'easy' freshman course to handle while also juggling advanced/honors classes for all of her core classes, a team sport and other things.

However, she is now thinking of taking Latin instead. She is weak in vocab, and is thinking Latin may help her in that regard.

Other information? They are required to take 2 years of a foreign language. She likely will not take more than 2. Again, thus far it has not been her interest.

So, for those who have been there and done that: Which is the better choice, spanish or latin and why? Also, is latin REALLY hard? I took it in high school and remember struggling greatly with it, but then again that may simply have been because I was weak in that area.

Any advice is appreciated!

Taben
That's an easy choice. Learn Spanish because it's actually useful in daily life.
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