I receive a lot of questions about foreign language credits for high school. In this post, I’ll address some of the most common concerns I hear, and point you to some resources that may help you navigate this area of the homeschool high school curriculum.
I want to start by letting you know that foreign language courses can sometimes be called, ‘world language’ courses in some areas. They’re the same thing; just a slight semantic difference.
I also want to remind you (more on this below) that most colleges and universities are going to assume their applicants can show 2-4 credits of foreign language on a high school transcript before applying for admission. Because of this, I recommend any student who even thinks they might go to college take at least 2 foreign language courses in high school. And, in case you’ve forgotten all the other requirements traditionally needed for college, go back and read THIS or THIS.
To the question of how to learn foreign languages, there are dozens of ways homeschooled teens can learn languages to earn high school credit in your homeschool. Remember, when homeschooling, there are very few limitations (if any, depending on area) on what to study, and how to do it. The marketplace is full of curriculum, courses, immersion programs, tutors, and plenty of other ways of language instruction. I have a list of products to learn languages HERE that ought to get you started.
In addition to packaged products and curriculum, homeschoolers (actually, anyone) can learn languages in other ways, too. Think about learning languages through travel, by reading, watching foreign films, viewing television programming, joining international organizations, or spending time with relatives from other countries. Again, when homeschooling, the tools and the methods are entirely up to you.
A web site I love when thinking about world languages is called Omniglot. I continue to be amazed at how many languages exist around the globe, and I love sharing that web site with others. With so many choices, the hardest part may be to decide which language(s) to learn; many homeschoolers choose several throughout the high school years.
Revisiting the matter of college entrance, however, I want to spend the rest of this blog making sure you understand the implications of learning languages in homeschool in ways that cannot necessarily be documented.
There are several important things to consider if you want to lock in eligibility for future college admissions.
The first is making sure your student takes 2 consecutive courses in the same language, for instance, French I and II, Spanish I and II, or German III and IV. Students are certainly welcome to take more than expected, but colleges will usually look for 2 courses in the same language, so make sure you’ve got that covered.
Next — and much trickier – is figuring out how to document language learning on the transcript. And, while I understand some families are very relaxed about grading and credit requirements, I’m here to tell you that college-bound students need to give this suggestion some serious consideration. Here’s why:
When applying to college, not every school may recognize every language experience. Colleges are not only going to expect your student has taken 2 foreign language courses, but they’re going to want to see that the courses were offered at the high school level, and were truly worthy of high school credit.
That’s why, if a student is going to be seeking college admission, it’s important to offer foreign language courses in a way that can be documented, and colleges can understand. You may be surprised to hear that some of the foreign language courses homeschoolers use in high school are actually unacceptable to colleges and universities. A popular language learning system (one for your computer) comes to mind — most all of the colleges I talk to do not recognize that program. Be careful.
For college-bound students, perhaps the most prudent way to avoid foreign language mistakes is to speak to the colleges your student might actually apply to. Ask them if the credits you’re offering your student will qualify him/her for eligibility.
Additional resources for your tool-kit include the CLEP and AP examinations. Even if you’ve dismissed these programs for other reasons, you might want to give them a second look when teaching foreign language in homeschool. Certain CLEP examinations, for example, can be used to demonstrate mastery of world languages by examination. Though there are only a limited number of CLEP language exams (find the list HERE) this can be helpful for students who have studied those particular languages. CLEP is also a great option for students who already speak another language at home.
Advanced Placement (AP) exams are also available for selected language programs (view the list HERE), and just might be an option for the language your student is currently studying. (Note that not all colleges accept CLEP or AP credits. Again, it’s important to check with the colleges or universities your student might be applying to.)
I cannot speak to every individual case of foreign language credit and how it may qualify a student for college admission, but if I can help you personally, we can always schedule an appointment to chat about your unique situation. Submit a request here if you’d like to talk.
To your success,