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Frequently Asked Questions

IF I TOOK A FOREIGN LANGUAGE IN HIGH SCHOOL, WHAT LEVEL SHOULD I TAKE AT PCC?

PCC offers placement tests in Spanish and French in order to determine
which level students should start at when they have previously taken foreign
language classes. The foreign language knowledge that students bring when
they come to the community college can differ widely. It is difficult to assess
the students' language level because high school foreign language classes
vary in their curricula.

HOW ARE FOREIGN LANGUAGE CLASSES IN HIGH SCHOOL
DIFFERENT FROM THOSE AT THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE?

Classes at the community college level are generally faster paced and more
in-depth; therefore, more material is covered. As a result, students do not
place as high as they expect to on foreign language placement tests.

I SPEAK SOME SPANISH AT HOME WITH MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS,
SO WHAT LEVEL OF SPANISH SHOULD I TAKE?

The way we find out about a student's foreign language level is through the
placement testing available for Spanish at PCC. It is important that students
also have reading and writing skills, which are usually missing if they have
only practiced the speaking and listening.

I NEVER TOOK SPANISH/FRENCH IN HIGH SCHOOL, SO I FEEL
REALLY BEHIND. WHAT CAN I DO?

The first level of the foreign language classes does not require any previous
knowledge of the language. It is therefore not a problem if the student has
never taken foreign language classes before. However, these students,
should practice and review thoroughly through the VISTAS Supersite course
resource. Also, the student may receive tutoring, especially at the beginning
of the semester. On campus tutoring is provided free of charge. This will
provide a good start and initial experience, which is important for a solid base
of the fundamental elements of the language and continuous success.

I AM TRAVELING TO A SPANISH/FRENCH/GERMAN SPEAKING
COUNTRY SOON, HOW BEST CAN I LEARN TO COMMUNICATE?

The first level classes of a foreign language introduce the fundamental
elements of the language within a cultural context covering very basic
vocabulary areas (greetings, school, family, free time activities) and grammar.
Upon completion, students should be able to comprehend and respond with
grammatical accuracy to simple spoken and written language in different
situations and demonstrate cultural awareness. To prepare oneself for a
particular experience abroad, it is important to use every opportunity that
presents itself at the college or outside the college to use the language and
learn about the foreign cultures.

WILL I BE FLUENT IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE AFTER TAKING THIS
COURSE?

Fluency in a foreign language requires continuous learning and practice for
several years. After taking foreign language classes, the student will have
covered the grammar basics and will have built a basic vocabulary useful in
different areas of everyday life. The student's proficiency will depend on the
personal effort made and the frequency of usage of the foreign language.

IF I AM TAKING A FOREIGN LANGUAGE COURSE ON CAMPUS, WHAT
MATERIALS COULD I BUY TO SUPPLEMENT MY COURSE?

The resources required for all foreign language classes at PCC offer a variety
of materials to practice all four language skills (speaking, listening, reading,
and writing). For instance, the website that is used for the French and
Spanish classes offers extensive extra material that students can use and
explore. Although supplemental materials can be purchased at most
bookstores, keep in mind that those materials may vary as to vocabulary and
grammar.

WHY CAN I READ A FOREIGN LANGUAGE MUCH BETTER THAN I CAN
SPEAK OR UNDERSTAND IT?

Adult learners (high school or college students) have the most difficulty with
the speaking and the listening skills since they are accustomed to learning
material mainly through the written language. This is why it is so important for
them to practice the speaking and listening as much as possible in class or
through homework. The website used with our Spanish and French classes
offers the possibility to practice those skills outside the classroom.

WHY IS MY INSTRUCTOR SO STRICT ABOUT CLASS ATTENDANCE?

Regular class attendance is a requirement for foreign language classes. This
is partly because it is the only way the instructor can assess all four language
skills (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) of a student. Also, the learning
of a foreign language requires human interaction and the practice of
communicative skills. The classroom setting is a practice ground for real life
situations.

DO I HAVE TO KNOW HOW TO SPELL THE WORDS?

When learning a foreign language we need to develop all four skills that are
used in human communication: speaking, listening, reading, and writing.
Learning the correct spelling is particularly important in the Spanish language
since it is considered to be spelled the way it is spoken/pronounced. This
means that it will help the learner to speak and understand the language
better if he also learns to spell it correctly.

WHY ARE THE FOREIGN LANGUAGE COURSES "WEB-BASED"?

The term "Web-based" indicates that the classes use the web/internet as part
of the course required resources. The online materials provide extra listening
and writing practice. Since PCC does not currently have a language lab and
the classes meet only three hours per week, further practice is essential.

THE TEXTBOOK IS EXPENSIVE-- DO I REALLY NEED IT? CAN I
PURCHASE IT ON-LINE OR USED?

Yes, it is imperative to buy the textbook. The Spanish and French textbooks
are sold as a package at the bookstore on our campus. The student can also
purchase the resources online (it is important to note that Financial Aid will
not reimburse online purchases). If the student purchases the textbook used,
it is important to make sure that it is the correct edition

DOES ECU USE THE SAME BOOK THAT PCC USES?

ECU often uses the same foreign language resources in their language
classes. Students will be able to use the same textbook for all four levels of
Spanish at PCC and for the language classes at ECU as well. The foreign
language classes offered at PCC are courses that transfer to a four-year
school.

WHAT OTHER LANGUAGE, SIMILAR TO SPANISH, CAN I TAKE/STUDY
CONCURRENTLY AT PCC IF I WANT TO STUDY MULTIPLE
LANGUAGES?

Spanish is a romance language (deriving from Latin), and French is the only
other romance language taught at PCC.

WHAT IS THE "SPANISH 112 HYBRID" COURSE?

Most of this course is presented online with the exception of three class days
at the beginning of the semester and the final exam for which students must
be physically present. The online platform is Quia, not Blackboard. During the
first three days of class, instruction will be given as to how to log into the Quia
website. The hybrid course has the same focus as the traditionally delivered
Spanish 112 class: the progressive development of listening, speaking,
reading, and writing skills. This course is ideal for students who have a basic
understanding of the sound system of Spanish. It is also very useful to the
native speaker who due to personal circumstances does not have sufficient
grammar and writing skills, but is comfortable with listening and speaking.

DO FOREIGN LANGUAGE COURSES AT THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
TRANSFER TO THE UNIVERSITY?

North Carolina has an articulation agreement between NC community
colleges and universities, which allows the foreign language classes to
transfer.

HOW ARE FOREIGN LANGUAGE CLASSES AT THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE DIFFERENT FROM FOREIGN LANGUAGE CLASSES AT THE UNIVERSITY?

The approach and resources used in class (even the use of an online source)
are the same or very similar. In the case of Pitt Community College and ECU,
the German and Spanish courses in both institutions often use the same
resources and cover the same amount of chapters in each level.

WHEN I TRANSFER TO ANOTHER SCHOOL, WILL I BE BEHIND WHEN I
TAKE THE NEXT LEVEL OF MY FOREIGN LANGUAGE COURSE?

Except for the fact that the student might have used a different textbook
covering different vocabulary and grammar, he/she should be fine. However,
the student should check to see what the other institution will expect as
previous knowledge.

DO I HAVE TO TAKE A FOREIGN LANGUAGE IN ORDER TO GET MY
ASSOCIATE IN ARTS DEGREE OR MY BACHELOR'S DEGREE?

No. Currently only NC high schools have a foreign language requirement that
must be met in order to attend a university. However, students may find that
the major they plan to pursue at the university has a foreign language
requirement. The following majors for a Bachelor of Arts degree require 4
semesters of a foreign language: English, history, psychology, philosophy,
communications, sociology, political science, economics, etc.

CAN AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE (ASL) BE USED TO FULFILL
FOREIGN LANGUAGE REQUIREMENTS?

NC passed an ASL bill, which recognizes ASL as a modern language.
Therefore, ASL is considered a foreign language in NC High Schools.
However, ASL is still often not accepted as a foreign language at the
university level. ASL is often accepted at a fine art or an elective. And even
further, some NC universities, including ECU, will accept ASL only to fulfill
admission requirements (high school MCR).