Enjoy the benefits of AP language courses | College Admission Manual


The College Board’s Advanced Placement World Languages ​​and Cultures courses are underrated personal and educational enrichment opportunities with a variety of benefits for high school students. These include becoming proficient in a foreign language; acquire knowledge in history, literature and culture; obtain university credits in a foreign language; and prepare for international education programs.

Students can take AP courses in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Latin, and Spanish, including Spanish literature and culture. Many high schools do not offer all AP foreign language courses, so students will need to speak to their guidance counselor about availability.

For those who sign up for one of these courses, here are three of the many benefits they can expect to reap.

1. Acquire a comprehensive understanding of language and culture: The pace and thoroughness of AP World Languages ​​and Cultures courses generally require the student to be immersed in the language.

AP foreign language courses immerse students in an extended vocabulary, complex grammatical forms and new modes of expression. Students are generally encouraged to speak only the foreign language in class, and some prior fluency in the language is expected. Students may also plan to read and write regularly in the language.

While the workload of such an AP course can seem daunting, students have a lot to gain from continued practice of a foreign language. For example, students can expect to feel more comfortable communicating in this language. They can also expect to be familiar with cultural themes, including art and literature, and historical turning points in language.

As a result, it is common for students to cultivate a passion for the foreign language, which they can continue to study and practice in college and beyond. Students may also view an AP course as an ideal opportunity to test an academic concentration in the language before enrolling.

2. Earn college credits: For many students, the most immediate benefit of taking an AP World Languages ​​and Cultures course is that it potentially enables them to meet college degree requirements.

A sufficient mark on the end-of-year exam can be useful even if the students do not declare a concentration in a foreign language. Many colleges and universities require some degree of foreign language instruction regardless of which majors students are considering, so getting a 3, 4, or 5 on the AP test could save them one or more semesters of foreign language study. .

AP level foreign language courses are also relevant for subjects such as education, international affairs and linguistics.

For students who decide to specialize in a foreign language, an appropriate score on the AP exam for that particular language can place them on the 100 level classes required for concentration.

Placement in a more advanced level can save students money on tuition fees. It can also free them up to pursue other activities, such as studying additional subjects, getting an internship or working part-time.

3. Prepare to study abroad or earn a degree abroad: Studying abroad is an experience that students can benefit from on several levels. Studying in a foreign country opens the minds of students to new places, cuisines and forms of entertainment, while making them aware of the culture and history of the country.

Many students return from studies abroad as more educated, understanding and well-rounded individuals. Some companies see them as more desirable employees.

An ideal way to prepare for a successful study abroad experience – or even earn a full degree abroad – is to take an AP World Languages ​​and Cultures course. Such a course can prepare students both linguistically and culturally for the international experience, which many students may initially find overwhelming.

The benefits associated with taking an AP language course extend beyond these three. Students can anticipate the more obvious benefits, such as earning college credit, but may be surprised by their heightened cultural awareness and their renewed or rekindled interest in the foreign language.


Sylvester L. Goldfarb