Spanish Students and Teachers Reflect on Quarterly PALS Test

Spanish Students and Teachers Reflect on Quarterly PALS Test


by Breanna Shiflett, Guest Writer
LEESBURG – The students who take Spanish at Tuscarora High School were required to take PALS, the quarterly speaking test, on October 21st and 24th in the computer labs for a big part of their grades.
The PALS tests are taken every quarter for a large portion of Spanish students’—and other foreign language students’—grades. During class, the children go to the computer labs and use Audacity, a voice recording program, to record themselves as they speak in the foreign language.  In previous years, teachers provided a prompt before the test for the students to learn. This year, however, a simulated conversation was used to test the students’ ability to comprehend the language and then correctly respond back. Whether the students were nervous or not, the test was on everyone’s minds during 21st and 24th.
The Spanish students definitely aren’t the only ones thinking about the PALS. The teachers are left wondering about what will be on the test because they don’t find out about its contents until two weeks before. Mrs. Gueits, a Spanish teacher at Tuscarora, explained how all the instructors have the same guidelines provided to them. “A comity of teachers, about five per level, meet during the summer and create what will be on the PALS,” she said. Even though a lot of work goes into preparing for the test, the teacher thinks it is good practice for students. “When you go abroad to a Spanish speaking country, you won’t be writing, you’ll be speaking, and so it’s a good practice for that.” Mrs. Gueits also likes the PALS because it’s a great one-on-one time for the instructors to be able to truly see what level their students are on when it comes to speaking the foreign language. Overall, she was happy with the results of the test and believes that the students had the best practice possible with a project that was completed in class not long before the PALS. “Overall, on a scale from one-to-ten,” Mrs. Gueits said, “we had a 7.”
Even with the hard work from the teachers, students still get nervous about the speaking exam. Madison Steward, a Tuscarora student in Spanish II, was one of those students. “Last year we had prompts beforehand,” Madison said, “but now we get them right before the PALS, so I was really nervous about that.” However, the nervousness made her study more. “I studied my vocabulary as much as possible,” she said.
Now that the PALS are over, the Spanish classes will go back to normal, doing things such as learning new vocabulary and grammar points. The speaking test will be back at the end of the second quarter though, and will surely be the main thing on Spanish teachers’ and students’ minds.