Real life pays off at school Credits available for language, other skills (chris woodall) The second language spoken at home is suddenly worth more than a way to keep a personal heritage alive. Howe Sound school district students can receive school credit for demonstrating an ability to speak a second language, as they can for a number of other skills they may have picked up outside of school life. The program is called the "challenge credit" and is a provincially-mandated policy recently adopted by the school board for its Howe Sound district schools. "Why should you take French 12 if you speak fluent French in the home?" says superintendent Mike Fitzpatrick. The same consideration goes for any student, whether speaking German, Sikh, Japanese, etc. By "challenging" the school board that the student has a second language, they can automatically receive credit for that fact. Language isn't the only example. A student who has been tinkering around automobiles as a hobby or part of work at the family business could receive a shops credit. A student who helps out on the farm might get credit for some aspect of that demanding profession. "Instead of boring kids by forcing them to take something they already know, they can move on to take other courses," Fitzpatrick says. Individual schools administer the program. Only Grade 11 and 12 provincial or locally-developed courses can be challenged. Students will "normally" be granted only one opportunity to challenge a specific course, but he or she can challenge as many course as they wish. An entire course must be challenged and yes, there is a provincial exam to take. There is no fee to challenge a course or to take the provincial exam if the challenger is already registered as a student in a board school.