Voces de la vida

Read about the new Spanish 6 and French 6 courses that have been introduced at LM and Harriton.

Señor Capkin and his Spanish 6H class focus on culture, literature, film, art, and music in their language and cultures. | Photo by (Anika Xi ’23/Staff)

At LM and Harriton, there are currently five levels of Spanish and French including AP which is taken by a large number of students in each grade. Most levels are associated with certain grade levels, but some students are ahead of their grade level. This is why, starting next year, there will be six levels of Spanish, French, and Latin. Latin already has a sixth level, so the district is developing curriculum with both LM and Harriton teachers to have the new Spanish 6 and French 6 classes available for the next school year.

In both Spanish and French classes, there are a number of native speakers or higher level speakers who are at either a level or several levels above what their normal grade level would normally be. This includes students who are native speakers and students who learned the language elsewhere. For example, there are five students who are not seniors in AP French at LM, around fifteen in AP Spanish, and even more at Harriton. Currently, these students do not have a way to continue with their language next year if they want to. Similarly, there is a larger number of Spanish students who are currently at the highest level who will now have an opportunity to continue their Spanish next year. 

French 6 and Spanish 6 would give those students a way to continue learning their language at school. Also, it would be an opportunity for students who speak those languages at home and are not currently taking them at school to have a new class if they want to. Both courses would have a focus on culture, literature, film, art, and music in their language and cultures. Spanish teacher Sean Capkin, who is working on developing Spanish 6, said that he wants the course to focus on the majority and minority voice in the subjects the class would study (literature, culture, etc). French teacher Laura Vargas, one of the teachers at LM who is developing the curriculum with French teacher Julia Schrader, said that the course would focus on different kinds of literature (plays, novels) throughout different centuries.

Both Vargas and Capkin would like to turn their conversations on culture and literature into potential community service projects. Vargas suggested a French 6 class might make a children’s book and read it to students at Cynwyd Elementary, or interact with French or other French-speaking communities in Philadelphia. A student who is currently in AP French as a junior, Carolina Schillinger, gave some insight into her opinion, saying “I’m glad there’s an alternative next year because I don’t want to lose my French after I’m finished with AP. I will definitely be taking the class next year.”  

While there are a number of students who would automatically advance into Spanish 6 and French 6, both would be offered as an alternative to AP Spanish and would be at an Honors level. Students who are currently in a level of Spanish and French 4 and don’t think they would want to take AP Spanish or Spanish 5, could opt to instead go to Spanish 6, where they would be more focused on the themes the curriculum has. While this wouldn’t provide a long-term solution to underclassmen currently in AP Spanish or AP French, it would fulfill the three years of language most colleges like to see, and they could try another language senior year if they wanted to. 

Both Harriton and LM students who are ahead of their grade level in a language are highly encouraged to take French 6, Spanish 6, or Latin 6 to continue their learning.

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