Slow Down: Honors Level Classes Can Be Too Fast-Paced


Olivia Crosby

There can be a significant difference in workload between honors and A-level classes, something students should keep in mind when making decisions about their courseload.

Butterflies filled my stomach as I approached the door to Spanish class on my first day of freshman year- August 27th, 2012. The adrenaline was pumping in my veins was I walked into the class. I was nervous, afraid to meet another new teacher for the first time. Spanish was the last period of the day, my first day as an official high schooler was nearly over. As I slouched into a seat in the back of the classroom, and I got finally calmed my nerves down, I thought that high school would be a breeze for me.

However in the terms of Spanish class, I was completely wrong.

The first words that my Spanish teacher shared with the class, were the only words he had spoke in English. “I will rarely speak in English in this classroom,” he said. My body froze in shock. I was certainly not ready for this on the first day. In middle school, Spanish was a piece of cake. I never had trouble understanding directions, working on class work, or doing my homework. So why should high school honors Spanish be any different, right? Wrong.

As I skimmed through the textbook, my brain swirled frantically. All of the Spanish that I had learned in middle school, and forgotten over the summer, was coming back to me. I felt that familiar comfort. I was at ease for the first time that day. As the class continued though, the teacher was a locomotive train with no chance of stopping. He breezed through several assignments, and I was left in the dust, dazed and confused. He barely explained anything and he spoke very quickly (in Spanish of course) without stopping to ask if we had any questions.

After two weeks and three tests in a non-English, fast-paced class, I decided that while Spanish honors wasn’t impossible, it was definitely a challenge. However, it was the teacher that recommended I drop from honors to A level. The only thing that comes from a class like this, if you’re a person like me, is an explosion of constant stress.

According to, “Stress can be caused by taking more advanced leveled classes…especially in these classes when the pace of learning is fast.” Whether it’s from the curriculum, the way the teacher teaches the class, or both, honors level classes can be a handful.

The switch from honors to A level was certainly the right choice. My new teacher spoke in Spanish and also sprinkled in a little English here and there. She also made sure to stop to ask us if we had trouble understanding or if we had any questions. Lastly, I even found myself learning more in the A class than the honors class.

Honors world language classes aren’t the only classes that can cause stress.

Lauren Gottschalk 16’ dropped down this year from U.S history honors to A because she felt that the workload was too much for her. “It was difficult to manage my time with playing an instrument and the huge amount of homework I was receiving…All in all it just over stressed me” said Lauren.

Ben Hamer ‘16 took Latin honors at the beginning of his freshman year. He was very eager to learn a new language. However, he felt the same concerns that I had felt in honors Spanish. His teacher spoke no English, the class was way too fast-paced, and the weekly vocabulary quizzes were simply too much for Ben to handle.

He dropped down to an A level Latin class and believes, “The change was the right call. I had a lot less work but I felt like I could concentrate more in the A class than the honors class.”

Andrew Ingber ‘16 was in the same honors Spanish class that I was in. Like me, he felt constantly lost and confused. “It’s not that I don’t understand Spanish. I do and I think I am pretty good at it, it was just that in the class, I had no clue what was going on” he said.

He later dropped down from honors to A instantly felt the change. “I was suddenly not afraid to share with the class the answers I had. My Spanish had begun to improve so much better” he said.

Many honors level classes are taught at such a fast and efficient pace that it may make your head spin. You may feel lost, confused, or just dazed. Do not feel embarrassed or afraid to make the switch from an honors level class to an A level class. You will get more out of the class and you will enjoy it more. Take it from me, I made the switch from an honors class to an A level class, and look at me, Hola!