AP Spanish Literature will likely be offered to MHS students beginning next year, according to Spanish Teacher Maria Vargas. The course is approved by the College Board and will be presented to the Curriculum Policy Counsel (CPC) on April 24 for a final approval within the district, Vargas said.
Letters have already been sent out informing parents and students about the class, Vargas continued. Since there is no official course number just yet, the counseling department has said that students interested in the class should simply mention to their counselors that they want to take AP Spanish Literature, and they will then be placed on the list, Vargas said.
“There is a need for the class,” Vargas said. “Especially among the native population because for those students, taking the language test is meaningful but not very meaningful. Just like for everyone else, we don’t even offer an AP English Language here. We only have [AP English] Literature.”
Vargas drafted the entire course on her own, for she did not receive help from administration or her department, she said. This gave her the opportunity to create a course without regard to any preset structure or notions, Vargas added.
“I thought, ‘Okay there’s a chance there’s not going to be a full class,’” Vargas said. “I will have to have maybe a heritage class and then some of the student will work on the AP class at the same time. How can I combine all their needs at the same time? And I realized they had to become independent learners. Then came the idea of using experts. I tapped into the people that I knew: professors, authors, Bolivians that would be willing to take one or two students under their wing and become mentors to those students.”
After a famous Bolivian writer and professor at Cornell University agreed to be a mentor to the students, many other writers and experts volunteered too, Vargas said. The authors became very accessible, Vargas said.
“It ended up with us having authors that are on the list that are willing to mentor students about their own work, like Francisco Jimenez,” Vargas said. “How can a student not feel interested in the work when it’s so close to the real source?”
“I chose to take AP Spanish Literature next year because I want to challenge myself,” Sophomore Ricardo Rodriguez Cortez said. “[Ms. Vargas] plans to have us work with Spanish writers so I am looking forward for that. I think it’s very unique and interesting to be mentored by professionals!”
AP Spanish Literature covers the development of the Peninsular Spanish, Latin American, and U.S. Hispanic cultures and civilizations using literature, according to the AP Spanish Literature course description packet. The course will be taught entirely in Spanish, and it places an emphasis on using technology to communicate with Spanish literature experts in different cities, states, and countries.
Students will create presentations on what they learn individually and in groups under their instructor’s guidance. In addition, AP Spanish Literature will not require the adoption of a textbook, the packet states. The school library will purchase copies of Spanish language texts required by the College Board.
“The class will be used in a format called the Z textbook,” Vargas said. “It consists of a platform of materials by teachers that are free to use so you don’t have to buy the textbook. The AP class will be creating probably the textbook as they go on because as they prepare for the AP exam, they’d be preparing the curriculum as well.”
Currently there are only five students interested in taking the course, but this is subject to change over the summer, Vargas said. Vargas suspects between eight to ten students will be in the class next year, so she will be the sole teacher.
“There are very few students trying out AP Spanish Literature; yet, I am sure as time passes by it will become pretty dang famous,” Cortez said.
Vargas simultaneously created an Honors Heritage Spanish Level Two class, she said. It will be equivalent to Spanish Three and open to non-speakers who have an A in Spanish 2 or are recommended by their teachers.
The honors class will use the language in a practical way, with the students running a translation business and volunteering their skills in the community, Vargas continued. This course will be presented to the CPC on April 24 along with AP Spanish Literature, Vargas added.