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    Originally Posted by Wren
    French is practically a dead language in my opinion.

    Interesting, we must have very different experiences. I use it everyday and have found that all my former clients in some of the largest industries require French to communicate with their international operations. With European clients, everyone speaks French, often as a second or third language. Anglophones who make the effort to speak in clients' languages are much better received and, in my experience, this is reflected in their career advancement (in management consulting).

    As such, I'm surprised that US schools aren't terribly concerned about proficiency. Having a higher proportion of language proficient students would be good for the schools' financial legacy.


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    So their international operations in Latin America communicate in French? China, Japan, Russia? When I had meetings in Germany, Sweden, Korea, Brazil, no one spoke to me in French. Morocco they speak French. Some. Former French colonies speak french. Swiss and Belgium speak French, though parts of Switzerland. Dutch didn't speak French to me. And the English never learned French to deal with their neighbors. And Spain, Portgual, Italy, they act like they don't know what you are saying when you try and communicate in French. Canada tried to be bilingual. In 20 years they only increased bilingualism from 12-17% The Quebec population refuses to learn English and Toronto now has a second language of Mandarin, not French. So a bilingual country like Canada doesn't speak French.
    I think foreign language proficiency is important but you need the ability to keep communicating in order to keep it up. Why I cannot speak French anymore. Living in NYC I never had the chance to speak it, except in France, which was 1 week a year. Though articles are being written that because of the euro, the French are being forced to speak English more for commerce and the European language of commerce is English. Though I think that is because of global trading. You have to talk to London, New York and Singapore. No French there.

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    French is still considered the language of diplomacy. My kids have found plenty of folks who speak French. Of course, if you know just one language, English is the most useful.

    Most Canadians I know speak French (and these folks don't come from Quebec or anywhere near there). Perhaps they are not representative of the general population (likely "gifted" folks with clearly gifted kids).

    As for languages in school, the quality of courses can vary greatly, and varies from teacher to teacher within a school. Most kids we know take four years of a foreign language - the kids around here don't view that as an onerous, odd college admission requirement. My kids have seen how it is more difficult to learn a language in middle/high school instead of learning at a young age. They were in an immersion school from Pre-K into elementary. My older two take/took a second foreign language at the HS. They are proficient at the second language, but not fluent.

    Eldest took the AP in both languages and has college credit in both. She also took the college's online language placement test in both and was cleared for 400 level courses (though she is starting with a 300 level course 1st semester). She thought the test in her immersion language was easy, but had a tougher time with the other language.

    Getting back to the original thread and Ivy admissions - while I am sure that there are some kids with less than the suggested number of years of language, or missing some other suggested items, there are tons of kids who apply that meet all of the suggestions. The vast majority of the applicants have stellar test scores & GPA, good ECs, etc. It is very tough to stand out.

    You'll never know why you weren't accepted at a school, but if you want to maximize your chances, you should fulfill all of the suggestions (and go above and beyond, if possible).

    And I guess I don't understand why most kids here wouldn't take these courses - I always thought that the typical HS day includes five "core" subjects - Math, English, Social Studies/History, Science w/Lab & Foreign Language. What are the kids taking in place of these core classes?




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    Originally Posted by NotSoGifted
    And I guess I don't understand why most kids here wouldn't take these courses - I always thought that the typical HS day includes five "core" subjects - Math, English, Social Studies/History, Science w/Lab & Foreign Language. What are the kids taking in place of these core classes?

    Two or three Maths and two or three sciences plus English. Speaking from a Canadian perspective, in some STEM fields, having taken all of the sciences and maths puts you at an advantage for competitive programs, so students are forced to trim out other disciplines quite early. It's unfortunate.


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    I agree - four years of a foreign language seems so little that it's hard to see why anyone would want their child to do less! But I think where we came in was HK's problem which was about the difficulty of getting appropriate teaching, not about not wanting it.

    Yes, you lose languages if you don't practise them. But IME they come back fast too when you need them, and the more experience you have learning languages, the easier it is to learn the next one, especially if it's in the same family as one you've learned before. I haven't had a class in any foreign language for well over a decade, but I've picked up a Duolinguo habit in the last couple of weeks and could now order a sandwich in any of the 5 it offers.

    And a beer, more importantly. Before I had DS and life got too busy, I used to have the good habit of learning a little of the language of any country I was going to, and I used to count how many languages I could ask for "two beers, please" in. I had 12 at one point, without putting a huge effort or expense in. And this is important for enjoying travel - even if English is the language of business where you're going, you can't rely on it being the language of the good place where the locals eat and drink! In fact I remember with amusement being in Portugal with an American friend and colleague and wanting to order at some slightly out of the way place. He took charge and ordered in slow loud English. We waited. And waited. I wasn't convinced he'd been understood, but he poohpoohed my concern. Nevertheless, we didn't get our order until I'd repeated it in Portuguese. I haven't let him forget this occasion :-)

    Last edited by ColinsMum; 08/24/13 08:10 AM. Reason: counted, and found I'd overestimated how many languages I used to be able to drink in

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    ColinsMum, our priorities are obviously aligned. Cheers to that! wink


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    I'm certainly on board with the ordering beer.

    Aquinas, the kids in Canada take two or three math courses and two or three science courses each year? Wouldn't you run out of math and science courses, or does the HS offer courses that would typically be college level?

    My kids take one math course per year. Middle kid is on track to take Linear Algebra senior year. All kids in our district must take Biology, Chemistry and Physics (all w/labs) before they receive their HS diploma. Middle kid is going into 10th, has taken Biology and Chemistry, will take AP Bio this year, Physics in 11th and some sort of science (maybe AP Chem or Physics) in 12th. Does your HS offer math and science beyond those typical HS courses?

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    This was a private school, but its courses had to adhere to the public curriculum requirements and was comparable to local public schools. Math and science were each one course in grades 9 and 10. I've seen a course load that looks like this for grades 11 and 12:

    1. Biology
    2. Chemistry
    3. Physics
    4. Calculus
    5. Algebra & Geometry
    6. English

    Stats is also offered.

    There would be 1-2 spare periods in the day left for lab work and homework, and some ambitious people would pick up an extra course if scheduling allowed. The school did an admirable job compressing the other mandated courses into the first half of high school to facilitate enrichment or specialization later. About half of the class were IB diploma or certificate holders.

    I am going to tread lightly here so as not to offend or over generalize, but I know that the math standards at my undergraduate economics program allowed graduate level material to be taught in 3rd and 4th years. Several of the professors had previously taught at Harvard and Princeton, and they used their PhD material because we had been required to study calculus and linear algebra. Given that my class had incoming students from a wide array of high school backgrounds, I'd hazard a guess that this was fairly representative for the province.


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    As Howler mentioned about declining percentage acceptances, Hunter high school sees the same thing happening. They used to get 10% every year into Harvard, 13% in Yale etc. Then about 5 years ago, it became 7% to Harvard, 10% to Yale and it is getting tighter, and that is one of the top tier gifted schools in the US. Kids that would get automatic accepatance 10 years ago get rejected.

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    Originally Posted by aquinas
    I am going to tread lightly here so as not to offend or over generalize, but I know that the math standards at my undergraduate economics program allowed graduate level material to be taught in 3rd and 4th years. Several of the professors had previously taught at Harvard and Princeton, and they used their PhD material because we had been required to study calculus and linear algebra. Given that my class had incoming students from a wide array of high school backgrounds, I'd hazard a guess that this was fairly representative for the province.

    Countries differ very widely in their patterns of specialisation and in what the "courses" are. The US is pretty generalist, England pretty specialist, Scotland and from the sound of it Canada somewhere in between.

    In the English system a typical pattern for foreign language learning is to learn one language from age 11 to 16, perhaps with a couple of years of a second thrown in, but to continue after 16 only if it's a particular interest. However, wanting more foreign language teaching than that is one of the commonest reasons for choosing a private school. DS has had French since 4, Latin since 8, both compulsory, and could have had a couple of other languages as clubs if he'd chosen to. That's pretty typical of the sector. That said, the French teaching seems very slow - he could order a sandwich (or a beer ;-> ) but not a whole lot more so far. That also seems pretty typical :-(


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