The first question we ask our students when they attend the class is why is it they want to study Spanish, so we can get a feel of how interested they are and what their goal is. With highschool students the question is even more important to us because we really want to hear: “Because I like Spanish,” but unfortunately, this is not the answer we get. They need to get up to speed in their class which is often beyond their abilities, either because of wrong placement, the school doesn’t offer an alternative class or because they moved from one school to another, having to take Spanish when they were studying some other language in their former school.The answer we often get from highschool students, which breaks our heart, is: “I’m not good at Spanish.” And we have to set it right by telling them that that’s not the case. They are not “bad,” they are just not in the correct level. But, since they have no other option, we have to start, often from scratch, and progress up to the level the school expects.
Once we make that clear, and we make a point of telling them and reassuring them that they are not “bad,” at Spanish, we start to enjoy the process of learning at their own specific level. It’s amazing how, when a student is reassured that they are where they have to be, and that we can move at their own pace, they relax and enjoy the ride. Not only that, they happily come to class and don’t find it a drag anymore because we are not testing them, we are teaching them not only the language but the love of it too.
Most kids learn to dislike Spanish and erase it from their “likes” list because they struggle at school by being placed in the wrong class. That’s a way of really killing it for them for life!
So, if a highschool student is struggling with Spanish, let them know that they are NOT “bad” at Spanish. They are just in a level that is beyond their current abilities. And yes, they can learn and enjoy it!