A Middle Schooler’s Opinion on Dual Language Time Conflict

Charlotte Arzouian, Middle School Editor

The concept of time is difficult to define. It is the epitome of relativity, your brain’s interpretation of space and movement. It was the primary cause of millions of thoughts swarming my pre-occupied brain last night, amplified by a subtitle labeled “graphing,” echoing before me from my laptop screen. It is a reason why my newest English novel haunts my gaze, the disparate metaphors echoing between major plot points of the poem. It is another origin of a cloud of distress forming when the amount of work left uncompleted became apparent using the handy “to-do” feature on Google Classroom. As a result of the pressure, I began to doze off, while trying to will myself to continue the workload, to finish the couple of questions until the burden was lifted off of my chest.

As students advance to higher grade levels, the workload increases, and, especially with the demand to participate in extracurriculars, it becomes difficult to complete assignments to the quality and standard the school system expects. 

Therefore, the importance of time management in middle school is constantly reiterated. Good time-management skills are often associated with a brighter academic future, as students will have to learn now to handle and embrace the increasing responsibilities throughout their highly developmental middle school years.

Poly Prep has adjusted its schedule to accommodate for homework by implementing free 25-minute blocks every day in the seven-day cycle. 

Although these blocks may appear to be an ample amount of time to complete work, in actuality, two of them are occupied by advisory, and, for one semester, students are required to take health for the same amount of time in the periods. This sparks the question of how we should expect children to not cram at the last minute with only a couple of study halls.  

Becoming available to them in 7th grade, students also have the option to join the middle school Dual Latin program during this time, presenting an opportunity to expand their linguistic knowledge. Studies have proven that a bilingual education teaches the mind how to adapt to certain circumstances, which has driven students to participate in the program over the last couple of years, aside from the engaging time, of course.

“I enjoy [Dual] Latin because it is a unique class compared to others: often we learn a lesson, and then practice it with Gimkit or Blooket. Our teacher, Ms. Windham, is a wonderful teacher that always helps us understand material better,” said 7th grader Evan Xiang. 

The class was previously an after school extracurricular, but has since transitioned to occupying the three 25-minute extra help periods, having students make the tough decision of a study hall or the class. I am also currently in the program, and it is an extremely interactive course and is loved by students. However, the time has been cut nearly in half compared to prior years, so students cannot sufficiently learn proper language skills. 

Latin Teacher Terra Windham explained that her main issues with the course are the erratic schedule for the given year, and that there is no clarity on how students can transfer to Upper School Latin if they wish to continue. “Some excellent and diligent students who had the 45-minute dual Latin classes have been able to merge into the Upper School Latin II class successfully,” she wrote in an email to The Polygon. However, she now described the task as “daunting,” because students aren’t provided with enough time to learn the basics and catch up in the future. 

To ease the transition process, Windham suggests a placement test for students, and “a class between Latin I and Latin II (like Spanish has) for students who have had some Latin and don’t want to start over, but are not yet ready for Upper School Latin II.” 

However, the situation is not easily explained. When asked why there wasn’t a full block for Latin, Head of Middle School André Del Valle wrote in an email to the Polygon: “Poly’s schedule is a block schedule. Classes are placed in blocks and there are only blocks A-H which means we have a limited number of blocks per cycle. We already have one block dedicated to language, not two. If Latin were to have its own block then we would need to move out another class in its place.”

The fact that the class is available only in Latin is also a determinant to the overall health of the department at Poly, as it can create the misconception that students in the program receive the same amount of training as regular Latin and encourages them to steer away from taking French, Mandarin, or Spanish in the Upper School, when, in reality, it is almost a tester course and students receive around 25 percent of the same training and lessons by the end of 8th grade. 

“As with all things at Poly, we would like to continue the program as long as students are interested in taking it,” said Del Valle. “If we can keep getting a full class of students interested, we will continue to try to offer it.”