Friday, September 30, 2011

Business Spanish

Business Spanish was different than any other Spanish class which I have taken in that there was a point to it. I say that kind of flippantly, of course. I have enjoyed the various classes I have taken over the years, but most of them lack a real context of learning a language for a specific reason.

I remember in one of the earlier classes I had taken having a discussion about why we were learning the words we were learning. What's the big deal about learning the words for family relationships, food, types of vehicles, and rooms in the house? We did come to the conclusion that it's probably because those are common things around us in everyday life. You don't go very far without encountering a door, needing to eat, or having to find a bathroom.

In learning a language for a business context, there were reasons for learning more advanced, nuanced words and phrases other than a laying-around-eating-apples-by-the-pool-in-your-cousin's-backyard context. One of the most useful skills would have to be writing an appropriate business letter, which is hard to do in any language.

This class would actually be followed up the next semester by a Business Communication course (in English), which was also very helpful in learning many rules of grammar and writing business correspondence. It's sort of interesting that it's the first course I've ever taken in another language before taking the same course in my native language.

Something more applicable to my college career generally is that this was the first, and only, course I've ever taken as Pass/Fail, if that wasn't the only option. I had learned about the Pass/Fail option long after it would have been really useful to me. I still don't understand why that isn't one of those things they train freshman on in university orientation.

I was enjoying this class. I thought I was learning a lot. The teacher was tough, but it was interesting. Then the midterm hit. It destroyed us. Everyone in the class just bombed it. The professor was not happy about it. Everyone was stressed out about it. I think a few people dropped. I looked into the option to change to Pass/Fail, and it looked like it might work. I talked to everyone I could find in the department to make sure they would still accept the course for my minor in Spanish if it was not graded.

Everyone agreed I could, so rather than fight with my grade in the class, I changed to Pass/Fail. The tricky thing is that it's technically P/D/F, not just Pass/Fail, so if you earned a D, you'd still get a D on your transcript. By this time, I had recovered from my freshman year and had a decent GPA going, so even a B would pull me down, and it seemed worth the switch. I was pretty certain I wasn't going to get a D, but above that I had no idea.

In the end, I totally don't know if it was worth it. I mean, it was, because it caused me a lot less stress, but I have no idea what grade I would have earned in the class. I have no idea what grade my fellow classmates earned. I don't know if she applied any type of curve or graded it straight. All I knew is that I got some peace of mind, and I got to try out the Pass/Fail option.

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