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Foreign Language
CheshireKat
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Posted on December 03 2011 02:22 PM
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From what I understand, foreign language seems to be pretty hit or miss among dyscalculics. Some people here are brilliant with foreign languages (Jus comes to mind), while others struggle with even understanding the very basic concepts of grammar or verb conjugation in a language other than their native tongue.

Given the latter, I thought I'd share something that I stumbled upon recently through my school's department of disabled student services. At my university, there is a foreign language requirement for all College of Liberal Arts and Sciences students. Any student receiving a degree from the CLAS must, as a requirement of the college, complete 2 consecutive semesters of foreign language.

I have tried (and failed) to take foreign language classes at my university - it just wasn't working for me. I am actually not terrible with Spanish, but the problem is that I can understand it much better than I can reproduce it. As a result, I can listen to people speaking to me in Spanish, but I will almost always respond to them in English.

I went to my disabilities adviser because I didn't know what to do, and he actually told me that there is a foreign language appeal option for disabled students. Most states have this kind of appeals process for people who have documented auditory disabilities, and the state of Florida recently widened that mandate to include ALL disabilities - auditory, visual, learning, emotional, etc. If you can document that your disability interferes with your ability to learn a foreign language, you may qualify for a foreign language substitution.

At my school, the foreign language substitution includes a "package" of 5 classes that you take in lieu of the 2 language courses - one linguistics class, and then a combination of 4 classes that explore a culture other than your own. (You could, for example, complete a cultural "package" on Latin American studies, or African studies, or Jewish studies.)

So if your LD is interfering with your ability to process and learn a foreign language, fear not! You may be able to appeal the requirement and take courses in lieu of the foreign language requirement. But a quick disclaimer - I did not petition on grounds of dyscalculia interfering with foreign language. I petitioned on grounds of auditory issues and ADHD. I won my petition, so now I just have to finish off those requirements this spring semester and I will graduate! Smile
"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings." - Eric Hoffer
 
justfoundout
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Posted on December 03 2011 02:48 PM
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11/3/11
I'm glad that option exists, Kat. I remember that several forum members have been caused a lot of distress over foreign language requirements. So, to get that foreign language substitution, people with LD's have to take 5 classes to substitute for the normally required 2 classes. Do I have that right? And, you'll surely be charged for those extra three classes. Is your graduation being delayed by those extra courses? - jus'
 
CheshireKat
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Posted on December 03 2011 04:49 PM
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Jus,

Yes, you have to take 5 classes (total of 15 credits) instead of 2 language classes (total of 10 credits). So it's a difference of having to take 5 more credit hours than you would if you took the series of language classes. How much extra it costs depends on if your school does fees by the credit hour or block tuition.

By the hour credit fees are exactly what they sound like - you pay per credit hour you take. If the credit hours are $300 per hour and you take 15 hours that semester, then you pay 300x15, or $4,500. Block tuition, on the other hand, means you just pay a flat fee for tuition per semester regardless of how many credit hours you take. Typically it is set around the price of what 15 credit hours (a full course load) would cost, so maybe $5,000 per semester.

Block tuition sucks because you lose money if you only take say, 12 hours per semester (4 classes instead of 5 or 6). At a per-credit-hour rate of $300/hr, 12 credit hours per semester would only cost $3,600, but with block tuition you'd pay $5,000 per semester no matter how many (or few) credit hours you took.

On the other hand, if you're one of those insane people who takes 18 credit hours per semester, it helps you get a discount (18 hours at $300/hr comes out to $5,400 per semester). I'm using the number $300 per hour arbitrarily, it's typically more than that, and at some schools it's way more. But the point is that depending on how you arrange your schedule, you may or may not be paying more. If you pay per credit hour, then yes, you'll pay more with the cultural option because you're paying for 5 extra hours.

But if you pay via block tuition and it doesn't take you any extra semesters to graduate (like if you were smart in arranging your schedule and used your cultural package classes to satisfy your upper-level electives simultaneously) then you won't lose any money. That's what I'm doing, I'm able to use the cultural option classes to satisfy my degree requirements at the same time so I'm still going to graduate in the spring.
"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings." - Eric Hoffer
 
justfoundout
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Posted on December 03 2011 07:39 PM
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Good for you for covering those upper level electives simultaneously with the cultural option classes! This is where having a good advisor, or having a mom with a degree of her own, can really come in handy. Also, those who find out about dyscalculia earlier in life and get the diagnosis can save themselves lots of long detours on the way to a degere. I'd instinctively avoided courses like Art History at the cc for years, knowing that I couldn't remember names and dates. Now, I'm having to take them at Uni, where they are more expensive and more difficult. But it has to be done, albeit with accommodations, now that I have my diagnosis.

I'm having to re-think my art degree, Kat. The painting teachers has disdain for my 'representational' art. I don't know if my lack of Abstract Reasoning plays a role in this, but I'm just sooo 'not into' conceptual art. I'm having to explore the possibility of a Spanish Major or a Major in Linguistics. Any thoughts on my low abstract reasoning and art? I don't think that you had this 'abstract reasoning' problem yourself. Right? - jus'
 
CheshireKat
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Posted on December 03 2011 08:14 PM
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Do you feel like you don't "get" abstract art, or do you just not have a taste for it? I would be careful about turning your artistic preferences into a disability - I don't think it is a disability. It sounds like you just have a preference for representational art, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Plenty of famous artists in history created representational art, and in fact, the first, most essential, most nurtured of human art forms is representational. The oldest statues and sculptures in the world are forms of women, representational forms of women, women who were nurturers and bearers of life, to be celebrated. Some of the most-loved pieces of art of all-time are representational, like the Last Supper or the Mona Lisa.

My long, tangential point being that there is nothing WRONG with representational art. Just because the art program at your university doesn't like it doesn't mean that it's bad or wrong, or that you are somehow less of an artist because you prefer it over more abstract forms of art. You just aren't an abstract artist, just like they aren't representational artists. Neither one of you is disabled or handicapped as an artist, you just have different preferences.

If you feel like your preference for representational art over abstract art is going to hinder your ability to get a degree, then maybe a degree in Spanish or Linguistics would be a better option for you. It would, at least, allow you to pursue something you can assimilate to more rapidly, while keeping your art as a hobby/craft to pursue on the side. Not because representational art is "wrong" or "less" than abstract, but because the art program at your university has a disdain for it, and will judge you harshly for being a representational artist, and that's not fair to you.

And I saw the comment on the other thread re: what your teacher said about your art not being "painterly"... that is what I have always disliked about art classes or programs, they are so subjective. It's all a matter of taste, there is no "good art" or "bad art", it's just art, some people like some of it and others like something else. It's like saying there's something un-flavorly about vanilla ice cream because you prefer chocolate.
"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings." - Eric Hoffer
 
justfoundout
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Posted on December 03 2011 08:51 PM
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Kat,
I love your illustration of vanilla ice cream being called 'un-flavorly'. hahaha Yes, and yet, with my 'grade' for each assignment held in the hands of my teacher, you can only imagine how disquieting it is to me to have it implied in every class that others 'get it' when I 'don't'.

I think that it's worthwhile to open the topic of conversation for other LD artists, whether dyscalculic or even dyslexic, who have low abstract reasoning, on whether or not this relates to the type of art they produce. I'm sure that you didn't intend to do this, but saying, "I would be careful about turning your artistic preferences into a disability - I don't think it is a disability." makes me feel defensive. I haven't 'turned anything into a disability'. But I do respect your opinion that you don't think that there is a relationship between not being able to paint abstract art and having low abstract reasoning.

It's true that 'abstract art' or 'conceptual art' are not my preference, but it's one thing to 'look' at it, and a little different to 'make' it. I never minded that other people painted abstract art or conceptual art, but it was never something that I aspired to either. I wouldn't have tried to hurt their feelings for making it, and if there was some part of it that I admired, I would have said so. But now I find that the academic world has set up standards in making art that requires the student to 'progress' toward making conceptual art. Many of the students in my class don't know how to mix colors or how to use perspective in their paintings, yet the teacher gives them 'A's'. One young lady has painted almost the same 'painting' over and over for every assignment, because she can't figure out how to do anything else, and the teacher gave her an A. The young lady is very sweet, and it doesn't even give me pleasure to say this about her. I've gone through a metamorphasis this semester,... at first wondering how it was that I wasn't 'getting the memo',... then feeling picked on,... and now finally, yes, a little angry because I'm paying money for this! And this method of grading my work is causing me to have to quit the only degree that I should have been able to 'do', given that I can't remember names and dates, unusual Spanish verb conjugations, or do algebra. The teacher has an answer for everything though, and 'resistance is futile'. On the last assignment she suggested changes. It took me all week end to do them. (As if I had nothing better to do than re-do an assignment.) When I got my grade, she wrote that it didn't look like I'd given it much thought. <sighs> I'm just dragging myself to that class now. Thanks for your feed-back. - jus'
 
CheshireKat
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Posted on December 03 2011 09:30 PM
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Jus,

I could see a relationship between poor abstract reasoning and not being ABLE to paint abstract art. I was not aware that when you talk about abstract vs. representational, that you are saying that you are not ABLE to do abstract art. My understanding was that you prefer representational art, that is your choice and preference, not that you are incapable of doing the other. It seems like I misunderstood you though, and you actually meant that you are not able to create abstract art.

I will be honest, I did some research about what exactly constitutes "abstract reasoning" because I wasn't entirely sure. It seems like the general definition of something abstract is, "Existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence" or to, "Consider (something) theoretically or separately from something else." Then I found this lovely definition: "Abstract reasoning is the process of perceiving issues and reaching conclusions through the use of symbols or generalisations rather than concrete factual information."

When I looked for tests of abstract reasoning, I got these:
http://www.fiboni...ning/test/

And let me just tell you, I HATE these stupid tests! But I don't think I hate them because I'm bad at them... I just don't like them because I have to pay attention to them. When I took the "Easy" set of puzzles, I got 6/8 correct. When I took a second look at the two puzzles I got wrong, I could immediately see why I got them wrong, it was obvious to me then. I just hadn't paid enough attention to them the first time around... my tendency is to answer what is easy and not intellectually demanding, and when it gets difficult my concentration gives out on me and I end up guessing because I can't focus on it anymore.

Anyway, point being that you're right, abstract reasoning (now that I know what it is) is not a weakness for me. I went and looked at my most recent IQ test to see how I did on abstract reasoning on that test. In "perceptual reasoning" I scored in the 94th percentile... so no matter how much I hate those stupid puzzles, apparently my abstract reasoning is still well intact.

I suppose they would be related in a sense that the individual has difficulty processing and expressing abstract, non-concrete ideas. The expression of those non-concrete ideas would be in the form of abstract art, art that does not take a concrete form. For example, a painting of warm colors, shapes, lines, etc. that represents "love" would be an abstract painting, whereas a picture of two people kissing would be a much more concrete means of conveying the abstract idea of love. Both are still abstract in some sense, because the idea of love is abstract, but one is clearly more concrete than the other. I could definitely see that.
"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings." - Eric Hoffer
 
Kestrel6
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Posted on December 04 2011 12:23 AM
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I think a lot of language acquisition happens when you're a kid. I did well with German in highschool, because Mom used to teach me songs in German when I was little.
But interestingly, I have been unable to *change* languages. Since so many people at my job speak Spanish, I've been working on picking it up. It's not difficult, since it's mostly Latin. BUT, if someone asks me a question in Spanish, I formulate the Spanish response in my head, I hear it in my brain, then I open my mouth and the answer nearly always comes out in German. Go figure that one.
Blessed are the PURR in heart!
 
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CheshireKat
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Posted on December 04 2011 01:09 AM
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Kestrel, the opposite thing happened to me when I tried to take German in college. I was exposed to Spanish as a child/teen because about half of my family speaks it, and then I took it in middle and high school. They wouldn't let me take Spanish in college, so I tried taking German. I would try to respond in German, but frequently my brain would fail me and I would respond in Spanish, English, or some mix of "Spanglish." My professor thought it was really amusing that she would ask me, "Wie get es dir?" and I would respond, "Bien, y tu?" I thought it should count for something that I at least knew what she was asking me in German, even if my response was in Spanish!
"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings." - Eric Hoffer
 
eoffg
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Posted on December 04 2011 09:43 AM
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Jus', it's not abstract reasoning that's the problem, but rather your avoidance of Art History.
Art History is not about names and dates, but rather with understanding the evolution of humanities use of visual art.
Where for 'abstract art', what needs to be understand, is how this evolved in the Western world, and the critical role that Cezanne played in this. Then with understanding what was important about Picasso's art work and it's derivation from African Art.
Along with the Dadaist Movement, which has really had the most profound ongoing effect on visual arts. With its use of Art to question formal structures and thinking.
So that it's not so much about abstract reasoning, but with understanding Art History, and the reasoning behind abstraction.
Where in fact, 'representational art' is also abstraction.
With Degree level Art, it's the reasoning behind the Artwork that is focus. Where a 'representational' approach can equally be used.
But what one needs to be able to do, is explain the reasoning behind its use. With regard to Art History.
 
squeakymonster
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Posted on December 04 2011 03:19 PM
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My university just approved ASL as a second language class to fulfill our requirement. Why couldn't they have done it when I could have benefited? *growl* I nearly failed Portuguese because of my issues with memorizing stuff. ASL is so much easier for me!
I'm NOT lost, I'm just taking the scenic rout!
 
RottieWoman
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Posted on December 04 2011 09:50 PM
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Smile great, Squeaky!
ASL is too often still not recognized as a language, especially when academic institutions insist on sticking it in with "Exceptional Ed" or "Communication Disorders" departments or majors.

I'm one of those with math LD who tend to pick up other languages easily. ASL feels very natural to me and I really have not struggled with the grammar.
Edited by RottieWoman on December 04 2011 09:50 PM
 
justfoundout
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Posted on December 11 2011 03:39 AM
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Thanks Kat and eoffg for your comments on Abstract Reasoning and Abstract Art. I hadn't said one way or the other whether or not I'm able to make abstract art. In High School I'd done some nice exercises, doing a fellow student's portrait as a caricature, another one as Cubism, and another one as just a normal sketch. Those came out good. And, I've got a couple of 'abstracts' that I did last year in Beginning Painting at the cc. They aren't anything 'wonderful', but they are decently interesting. I'd previously never 'aspired' to be able to do conceptual art. The Uni teacher who doesn't like my work wasn't really clear in what she wanted from us.

Thanks for that info on Art History and it's link to abstract art, eoffg. In a different college, with a different art teacher, I might have been able to 'get with the program'.

I'm now on the brink of changing my Major to Linguistics. I'll have the problem of getting the teacher Certification in order to teach English as a second language. BTW, deaf students enroll in the cc's ESOL (English as a Second Language) courses, and I was one of the Sign Language Interpreters in those classes. So, I've been in those classrooms and heard the curriculum. I'll miss art classes though. I really love art. - jus'
Edited by justfoundout on December 11 2011 03:46 AM
 
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