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Old 01-23-2019, 06:36 PM
 
Location: Saint John, IN
10,940 posts, read 3,607,696 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quietude View Post
My impression is that foreign language study, especially in public schools, has declined to the point of embarrassment. I'd be interested to see stats or hear validated stories to the contrary.
My children are currently in Middle school, but they attended elementary school in both Illinois and Indiana (the Chicagoland area) and in both states they were being taught Spanish as early as Kindergarten. They actually started learning Spanish in Preschool, but that was private, not public. In High School they will be required to take 3 years of a foreign language in order to graduate. Since they both know Spanish pretty good (and can actually hold a conversation doing so), one daughter is planning on taking 3-4 years or German and my other daughter French. And before you ask, no we are not Latino. They have learned all of their Spanish from public school. Spanish is the 2nd most spoken language in the U.S. and that is why children should be learning it.

Here's a list of the top spoken languages in the U.S. https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/...n-america.html

BTW....your comment that French and German are useless is not justified and according to the above link, both rank in the top 10 languages most spoken in the U.S. My DH travels extensively for his Engineering job and he gets paid considerably more than his co-workers because he knows Spanish and German and uses both languages quite often.

Last edited by CGab; 01-23-2019 at 06:56 PM..
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Old 01-23-2019, 07:31 PM
 
6,317 posts, read 3,547,679 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by River City Rocky View Post
I get what you're saying but why can't it be both? Why can't American children know multiple languages at the same time that they receive a science education. I'm sure many kids in other countries accomplish this.

Some could handle it, but not most. In our HS, that would mean a senior would be taking: Trig, Physics, English composition, Economics, Foreign language, and PE. That is a heavier load than most college bound can handle.
One reason more European kids have better foreign language knowledge may be simply because they are exposed to it more. The countries are small and many people travel to their neighboring countries frequently.
Honestly, the kids who achieve fluency the fastest and best do it by taking special language classes in the given country during the summer. They concentrate on learning the language and culture without the stress of taking other classes. But for American kids that is quite a luxury.
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Old 01-23-2019, 08:05 PM
 
6,188 posts, read 3,316,430 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harpaint View Post
Some could handle it, but not most. In our HS, that would mean a senior would be taking: Trig, Physics, English composition, Economics, Foreign language, and PE. That is a heavier load than most college bound can handle.
....
I agree that something would have to give to fit it into the schedule. But if we started earlier, perhaps if they got the basics while their brains were still forming, it wouldn't be as formidable challenge. Might make us rethink our current education process. For example, do we really need some form of English grammar every year through high school? Is the pain of diagramming sentences really adding value in the end? Would our students do better in English if they also had a FL in alternating years through middle and high school? Same with Science. I'm a big proponent of science education, but are we really teaching it the best way? Wonder how much time is lost to re-teaching by introducing a complex topic too soon and then doing it completely in a teach, skip a year, reteach fashion?

Also following on to what you said, I would like to junior and senior year restructured to a more college like MWF/TTh schedule for classes than the five day a week boredom fest of the current schedule.
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Old 01-23-2019, 08:29 PM
 
6,317 posts, read 3,547,679 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tnff View Post
I agree that something would have to give to fit it into the schedule. But if we started earlier, perhaps if they got the basics while their brains were still forming, it wouldn't be as formidable challenge. Might make us rethink our current education process. For example, do we really need some form of English grammar every year through high school? Is the pain of diagramming sentences really adding value in the end? Would our students do better in English if they also had a FL in alternating years through middle and high school? Same with Science. I'm a big proponent of science education, but are we really teaching it the best way? Wonder how much time is lost to re-teaching by introducing a complex topic too soon and then doing it completely in a teach, skip a year, reteach fashion?

Also following on to what you said, I would like to junior and senior year restructured to a more college like MWF/TTh schedule for classes than the five day a week boredom fest of the current schedule.

Grammar is taught in elementary school, with the last review in 7th grade. Even in elementary, English is primarily reading books and learning to understand what you read and the ideas expressed. Reading teaches children about different kinds of people, different cultures, different occupations, different religions, different morals, different values, etc. In HS it often gives students the opportunity to read biographies about people who have been outstanding in various ways which interest the student.
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Old 01-23-2019, 08:51 PM
 
3,386 posts, read 4,751,799 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quietude View Post
We had Spanish in early elementary school in the 1960s. I don't recall it as being very... meaningful.
But demographics were very different then. I can remember when my home area, Washington DC, had no Spanish language Radio programming at all. Now there are several full-time Spanish stations. The Hispanic population has exploded exponentially in most of the U.S., they have overtaken African-Americans in population.
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Old 01-23-2019, 09:37 PM
 
Location: Backwoods of Maine
7,016 posts, read 7,871,348 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quietude View Post

No student in the US should be allowed to graduate without basic competence in Spanish.
No student in the US should be allowed to graduate without basic competence in English.

That goes for native-born Americans, whose spelling, grammar and punctuation are atrocious, as well as for the children of immigrants who intend to stay here in the US.
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Old 01-23-2019, 10:01 PM
 
1,189 posts, read 516,494 times
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Based on reading the posts, I guess some of you mean the issue is with the education system's flaws on itself, That we won't have much expectations their attempts at foreign language education would do any good when they can barely get basic competence in English for native English speakers aka Anglo Americans by the time they graduate from school?
And that the US is overall behind not just in foreign language education but any language education including English? Id be curious to ask how well Anglo Americans perform with English language and grammar skills compared to their counterparts in other English current or former commonwealth countries. In this case would an recent child or descendant from the UK also suffer "language skill attrition" as well after settling in the US for multiple generations?

Last edited by citizensadvocate; 01-23-2019 at 10:11 PM..
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Old 01-23-2019, 10:44 PM
 
Location: America's Expensive Toilet
1,137 posts, read 724,355 times
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I grew up in Florida, and they had a Spanish teacher come into class every other Wednesday to teach us beginning Spanish from 3rd to 6th grade. I was required to take 2 semesters of a foreign language in middle school and chose Spanish (because of the large Hispanic population in FL seemed like it would be a good idea, right?). Same deal for high school- required two semesters of a foreign language. They only offered French, Spanish, or Latin. Again I chose Spanish.

Come college, same thing, two more semesters of a foreign language required for graduation. I took Spanish, yet again, but they did offer a handful of other choices at this point. Part of me wishes I took Japanese, Chinese or German, but at this point I just wanted to be done with it. Interestingly enough the school wouldn't accept me taking ASL as a foreign language despite it being infinitely more useful to me. They said I could take it as an elective if I wanted, but my scholarship wasn't going to pay for it so I dropped it.

Want to know how much Spanish I use in my daily life? ZERO. I retained a little bit of the language just from exposure but I have zero need to speak it. I also have zero desire to and don't have Spanish speaking friends anyway. My reading comprehension in Spanish is still pretty good though. After college, I learned some Korean and Chinese on my own. I have retained far more of these languages than I ever did after all those years of Spanish. I plan to pick up Chinese again when I have more time.

IMHO, foreign languages shouldn't be required. Many of us don't use them on a daily basis. For those with the desire to learn another language, they will probably retain the information better because they have the motivation to rather than being forced. Without someone to continually practice your skills with though, seems pointless.
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Old 01-24-2019, 12:23 PM
 
11,593 posts, read 17,113,357 times
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How much has foreign language education improved around the US in recent years?

I would imagine it is the same as ever, more or less.

Most people who are college bound will probably have taken a language in school and consequently have some rudimentary knowledge of it. And I think that is the best we can expect and the system is set up to do just that.

If the intent is to learn a language to the point of fluency, that is, speak it with high skill approaching that of a native speaker, then that is up to the individual who must possess a strong desire to do so. To obtain such a skill level will require a much bigger commitment of time and resources- mostly including residing in another country for a time.

The one possible exception is Spanish for all the obvious reasons.

I think foreign language instruction is very valuable, but you have to be realistic in terms of what you hope to accomplish.
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Old 01-24-2019, 02:24 PM
 
189 posts, read 36,688 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quietude View Post
French and German are essentially useless languages unless the intent is to live or work in those countries or study their literature and culture to a high level.

No student in the US should be allowed to graduate without basic competence in Spanish.
Exposure to any foreign language is useful in what it teaches about one's own language. To see how how French or German (or Spanish or Mandarin or Arabic or what have you) deals with concepts in different ways than English helps in understanding English. The vast majority of English speakers in the United States will never need another language - the variety of offerings encourages more students to take one foreign language or another. That's good.

No single language is all that utilitarian for an American beyond English, save for those with immigrant parents, who will learn Mom and Dad's language at home with no help from the school system. The utility of Spanish in the U.S. is decreasing. While there are more Spanish speakers, that's because of population growth - there are also most English speakers. But the share of Spanish speakers has leveled off. After rising by 3% during both the 1990s and again during the 2000s, it has now flatlined per Census Bureau surveys. This is an obvious consequence of the fact that immigration from Spanish-speaking countries has been dropping for well over a decade (despite the hysteria from some quarters) and the younger generation of Latinos is increasingly fully fluent in English. The share of U.S.-born Latinos is 66%, up from 60% in 2000. Virtually every Latino born in the U.S. speaks English, regardless if they speak Spanish.

Thus:

What is the future of Spanish in the United States? | Pew Research Center

What happened to German in the United States - which used to be vibrant, with countless German-only schools and German newspapers common across the nation* - is slowly happening to Spanish. This is not to denigrate Spanish at all but to point out that Spanish immigrants are not some sort of ahistorical outlier who are going to foist their language on us in ways that European immigrants of the past did not.

* - And plenty of worried people were convinced that German was going to subsume English which, of course, neither happened nor was ever a threat to happen.
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