Mandarin and Spanish class at odds

Students in Mrs. Kenney's spanish class work on assignments from their textbooks. COURTESY TO IZABELLA COFRESSI
Students in Mrs. Kenney’s spanish class work on assignments from their textbooks. COURTESY TO IZABELLA COFRESSI

This year at Keppel, there have been some changes in the Foreign Language Department. According to Ms. Castro, the Assistant Principal of Instruction, the demand for higher level Mandarin classes has increased, while the demand for lower level Spanish classes has decreased. Although the languages are separate and the numbers don’t affect each other, some teachers have specifically taken on different classes in order to fill up their schedule.

Ms. Kenney is an example of a teacher who has been affected by the changes within the foreign language department. “The school informed me that I would be taking on a different period in the end of July, beginning of August, somewhere around there.” she says.

She now teaches a period of Drama ESL, which has presented her with an entirely new teaching journey. “Now, I have a period of non-English speakers, and the class is Drama, but we are mostly working on speaking and listening skills for early language development in English.”

Teachers are not the only ones feeling the repercussions of the changes. Due to limited space, some Spanish classes now have a waitlist.

However, not all students see this as a big issue. Junior Annie To claims, “A lot of students that I know taking Spanish have been raised with the language, so if any of them have been waitlisted for that class, at least they get to be introduced to and learn the basics of another language”.

While she is very happy to have received a Mandarin class this year, she sees how this could be an issue. “My parents highly recommended Mandarin to me, and I personally wanted the class, so I can see how some kids might feel.”

Others who were lucky enough to have Spanish this year are grateful. “I think Spanish is a very beautiful language, and one I grew up with but never mastered, so I look forward to learning more this year,” says junior Sophia Dimas.

Yet, she has mixed feelings towards the waitlist and the changes in available Spanish classes. “This issue isn’t fair at all for kids who are on the waitlist who actually want the class, while others who might not even be putting in the effort to learn are in.”

Izabella Cofressi

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