1. Tupp Senior Member

    English - Australia
    I'm reading an article from Phosphore magazine where students are talking about their experiences as exchange students. One boy says: "Le niveau est très soutenu. En maths, j'avais l'impression d'être en S spé en permanence."

    Does he mean that the students were somewhat spoonfed and he felt like he was in a special class e.g. of a lower level. What does the S stand for?

  2. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    Just the opposite. :)

    en S = on the sciences track in high school
    spé maths (spécalité mathématiques) = with a focus on mathematics

    So actually, it's that his math class was quite difficult: it felt like being in one of the highest-level math courses that are offered in French high schools.
  3. djweaverbeaver Senior Member

    English Atlanta, GA USA
    Hi Tupp,

    It's actually the opposite of what you think. It's not special education (or the politically incorrect "sped") classes for students who can't keep up with the normal curriculum.

    In France, the baccalauréat général is divided up into three main filières or streams: S (scientifique), ES (économique et sociale) and L (littéraire). The spé is short for spécialité, which refers to course that the students takes for a couple of extra hours a week, usually in a subject area that he feels he's good in. The student will be tested on it in more depth on the bac, and it weighs more in the overall score because of the higher coefficient. In L, for instance, the option of spé in various languages is call "langue vivante renforcé". We had "l'anglais renforcé at my school.

    So, S spé (maths) is perceived to be harder than regular math because it's perhaps a little more theoretical, and thus more advanced, not dumbed down.

    Edit: For some reason, my computer didn't list Jann's comment. Otherwise, I wouldn't have responded because we've said the same thing essentially.
  4. Tupp Senior Member

    English - Australia
    Thanks Jann and djweaverbeaver. What does he mean by "le niveau est tres soutenu"? Sorry, I'm still a bit confused.
  5. djweaverbeaver Senior Member

    English Atlanta, GA USA
    S/he means that the level is very elevated and advanced, ie. over his/her head. "Soutenu" is actually the wrong word here in my opinion, as it applies more so to the grammar and style of a language. I would have said "avancé" or "poussé".
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2014
  6. Tupp Senior Member

    English - Australia
    Thanks again djweaverbeaver. I think it was the soutenu which confused me. I saw it as meaning supported i.e. the students were supported in their learning. I see now that soutenu in this sense means "elevated".

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