Students Frustrated with VHL Language Program

By Sophia David ‘21, School News and Features Reporter

4-13-19


VHL Central is an online program used by the language department at FCS. Many Spanish and French students use it regularly for homework assignments which include activities, videos, listening practice, and speaking practice. However, it is well known that VHL is not exactly loved among the student population. Here are eight student’s reasons many students strongly dislike VHL:



(Photo credit to Wix)


Uno/un) Rore Anderson ‘21: “The oral activities don’t even work with my computer. It says

that they are overdue even though I did them. Then it just leaves it there, reminding me that they are overdue. Its not compatible with my computer because I can’t open the online textbook while I am doing the activities and it makes me mad.”

Dos/deux) Anonymous ‘20: “I don’t mind the VHL exercises themselves, but because we do them at home and they are corrected at home, we don’t actually review them in class. I feel like if you don’t try that hard on them or understand the concepts behind them, you never actually learn them.”


Tres/trois) Rebecca Wusinich ‘20: “My least favorite thing about VHL is that to find your past assignments, you have to go to the calendar and it's a whole mess.”

Cuatro/quatre) Katie Leone ‘19: “If you capitalize something and it's not actually capitalized it says its wrong. If you forget a period it says its wrong. Why does that matter when I’m typing in a word?”


Cinco/cinq) Sammy Darling ‘21: “All the assignments that you haven’t done are shown as late or incomplete when they just weren’t assigned, and it stresses me out for no reason.”

Seis/six) Ruby Kauffman-Rosengarten ‘21: “I hate it because it’s glitchy. I also don’t like when it doesn’t give you options for filling in blanks. Often the words you choose could be right, but you tells you that they are wrong because they are not exactly the one it was looking for.”


Siete/sept) Phoebe Rotondo ‘21: “Sometimes it requires a period, sometimes it requires a space, and sometimes it doesn’t require either. If you don’t put the right thing, it marks the whole answer as wrong.”


Ocho/huit) Anonymous ‘22: “I appreciate VHL because it's easy to assign practice, and the format remains the same. It’s really easy for the teachers to assign and the students to find. Because you are learning a language, it's important to just be exposed to the language. I think it makes a lot of sense, in the context of individual assignments, to keep you engaged with learning the language.”


These reasons may cause us to wonder why we continue to use VHL, but it is not all bad. We asked some World Languages teaches to share their thoughts on the program. Betsy Katzman, who teaches Spanish, said, “As a teacher of Spanish I, II, and III, I have used the online VHL activities as homework frequently, and my students frequently do not like it. The benefit of it is that you get instant feedback. I try to work with students to understand that I only [grade based on] effort and completion for VHL. It tells me how long someone has worked on the activity, so even if you fail the activity but you worked on it for a while, you can get the full homework credit. It’s okay to be annoyed with the system but it is more helpful than doing a workbook activity where you wouldn’t get the immediate feedback.”


Madame Clemence, our French teacher, added, “A good part of VHL is that the book is online, and students can have direct feedback. This is good because we don’t need to spend time in class correcting it, which is really boring and takes a long time. [A problem is] that the exercises are very hard, and students get discouraged sometimes because since its a computer, [their answers] are either right or wrong. They feel that they never do well enough, and this can be hurtful. There is the possibility with VHL to go very far with progress because students who want to be challenged can really be challenged. It forces me to be in a pattern of lessons and vocabulary accumulations that is problematic because it is hard to get out of the book and do something else. Sometimes I wish I could do something more creative, because [VHL] is just one way of learning the language.”


Sra. Perez, a Spanish teacher gave three reasons she likes VHL, saying, “1. Lots of different exercises [and] practice for everything covered in the text. 2. Instant feedback for the student (most of the time) about how they did. This allows the student to see what they still haven't mastered right away and to get extra help in those areas if they need it. This is much more useful than having to wait for a week for a teacher to hand something back, by which time the class has probably moved on to something else. 3. The teacher can see how much time the student spent on an activity.”


In conclusion, although disliked for an array of valid reasons, VHL has its benefits and may contribute more to our learning that we realize.

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