decline of language education in american schools

Discussion in 'Education and Academia' started by olckicker, Nov 10, 2004.

  1. olckicker

    olckicker Member

    Jan 30, 2001
    Another casualty of "practical" education is the reduction of lanuage as a semi-transparent form of communication. The consequences should be obvious after an election and here's the most frightening: an increasing number of americans have a "literal" interpretation of a book written by many humans, translated in different languages and different versions.

    Even many literature professors look past language to discuss history, psychology, religion, etc. I was lucky to have teachers who taught me not to take language for granted — but this was in college. Grade school literature classes might be the best place to teach kids to appreciate the beauty, complexity and importance of language. Thoughts?
     
  2. Val1

    Val1 Member+

    Arsenal
    Mar 12, 2004
    MD's Eastern Shore
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Well, I was already to jump in when I saw the title of the thread, but you've managed to confuse issues of faith with this decline. That's a separate argument and I'd be happy to meet back here to continue it.

    By the decline of language education, I presume you mean the dropping of all languages except Spanish. If so, I am witness to the same. My wife is a French teacher and has been the steward of the closing of the french program at two schools. Language once used to be the very fundamental of a liberal arts education. My high school, as late as 1981 offered Latin, Spanish, French and German. And that was a public school! Find me even a private school that offers such breadth. And if you do, I bet the latin teacher has been there for 30 years. But as soon as this crop of latin teachers retires, that language will cease in our secondary schools.

    In this case, the growing hegemony of Hispanics as the "sole" ethnic group has obliterated the study of all other languages. It used to be you took a language because you wanted to travel or some other country was intriguing (or, you needed it for college), but now, Spanish is taken because it can be used here. In other words, you need Spanish in America. And I'm in that debate. But, it has killed the language as a sign of an educated mind role in our curricula.
     
  3. olckicker

    olckicker Member

    Jan 30, 2001
    The decline of language education encompasses many things including the lack of foreign language classes in schools.

    As for faith ... it's also relevant. When I mentioned the problem of literal interpretations to a born again christian he asked if I meant God can't communicate to "his people." He acknowledged it could be a problem but proceeded to shrug it off as if his faith was too strong ...
     
  4. Lithium858

    Lithium858 Member

    Aug 11, 2002
    Baton Rouge
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    American schools should teach students at least 2 languages throughout their academic life. The student/parent should be able to chose the languages kinda like they do in Europe. It would make us seem smarter. But I don't know if there is proof that it actually makes people "smarter."
     
  5. PsychedelicCeltic

    PsychedelicCeltic New Member

    Dec 10, 2003
    San Francisco/London
    You tend to perform better in school.

    In Wales, more and more parents are sending their children to Welsh-medium schools, because not only to they learn the national language, but Welsh schools just DO better academically than English-medium schools - even at English.
     
  6. Val1

    Val1 Member+

    Arsenal
    Mar 12, 2004
    MD's Eastern Shore
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    You're going to have to bring this conversation down to me, kicker, I'm missing your point. I'm born again, I don't read scripture literally, but I walk with many who do. I don't see the connection.
     
  7. (TxT)

    (TxT) Member+

    Jun 9, 2004
    Tampa, FL
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I go to a public High School and we have Spanish(4 teachers), French(2 Teachers), and Latin(1 teacher), we used to have German but the teacher retired. Foriegn language classes are also offered in Middle School. They are also starting to teach the kids Spanish as early as first grade in my county. Not ot mention they offer the ESOL classes for kids that come form non-English speaking families, we have a pretty large Mexican population in town.
     
  8. olckicker

    olckicker Member

    Jan 30, 2001
    "Literal" interpretations of the Bible, Koran, Torah or any book are impossible because language is a flawed form of communication i.e. language is unclear. Yet the born-again christians I know who have "literal" interpretations take language for granted -- they see language as transparent instead of opaque. Hope my language is clear enough ...
     
  9. olckicker

    olckicker Member

    Jan 30, 2001
    Learning foreign cultures are inherently part of learning foreign languages -- something the u.s., especially "red america", needs desparately.
     
  10. TOONS

    TOONS New Member

    Nov 13, 2004
    CheeseSteak Town
    from my experience, americans dont value speaking more than one language, in the private american school i go to no one gives a sh!t about learning another language. most americans figure that if their not moving to another country they dont need to learn another language. just another lazy american habit
     
  11. (TxT)

    (TxT) Member+

    Jun 9, 2004
    Tampa, FL
    Nat'l Team:
    United States

    I'm not trying to attack you but I really don't see why I should learn another language if I don't want too. I can see why so many people would learn English or some other language for business purposes, or if you live in a bilingual country like Canada but I feel there are a lot more important things to learn about than foreign languages. If that is what you want to do than fine but don't force it upon me.
     
  12. TOONS

    TOONS New Member

    Nov 13, 2004
    CheeseSteak Town
    trust me your not attacking me, i totally agree theres no point in learning another language.
     
  13. Elninho

    Elninho Member+

    Sacramento Republic FC
    United States
    Oct 30, 2000
    Sacramento, CA
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    When I started high school, my high school offered Spanish, French, German, Russian, Italian, and Latin... by the time I graduated from high school, it had dropped Italian, but added Japanese. That was in 2000. As far as I could tell, that was fairly normal as public schools went. Has language education declined that much in the last 4 or 5 years?
     
  14. DoyleG

    DoyleG Moderator
    Staff Member

    FC Edmonton
    Canada
    Jan 11, 2002
    Victoria, BC
    Club:
    FC Edmonton
    Nat'l Team:
    Canada
    Second language requirments for a diploma in Canada vary from province to province.

    SLR's for a degree vary from university to university, department to department.
     
  15. royalstilton

    royalstilton New Member

    Aug 2, 2004
    SoCal
    Club:
    Liverpool FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I started high school at Evanston Township High in Illinois, at the time one of the top public school programs in the nation. Along with New Trier, the two schools had one of the most comprehensive foreign language departments in the county.

    ETHS offered 4 years of Russian and two years of Chinese ( Mandarin, I think ) taught in Russian to kids that had already had two years of Russian.

    Four years of Latin offered and 4 years of French and German. Spanish came late to the dance, as it was seen as a fad.

    I transferred after one year. The California school I attended had two years of Latin, 3 of French, Spanish and German. The French teacher was Puerto Riqueno and had an odd accent. He also taught Spanish.
     
  16. TOONS

    TOONS New Member

    Nov 13, 2004
    CheeseSteak Town
    it doesn't matter how many languages are taught, the important part is: are any americans actually trying to learn them? no. we just dont have the drive; twenty years from now no one will care what language you learned in HS
     
  17. tog

    tog Member

    Oct 25, 2000
    Seattle
    Honestly, the best reason for taking a foreign language is to learn English grammar. It's the only time that you are consciously forced to understand the structure of sentences, parts of speech, relationships of words, etc.

    I learned more about English grammar from studying ancient Greek than I ever learned studying English.
     
  18. (TxT)

    (TxT) Member+

    Jun 9, 2004
    Tampa, FL
    Nat'l Team:
    United States

    I think that pretty much everybody doesn't know what verb conjugation means until they take a foriegn language.
     
  19. Lithium858

    Lithium858 Member

    Aug 11, 2002
    Baton Rouge
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    If you're from southern California it would be wise to learn spanish though. Then you can know what the Mexicans are saying about you. jk
     
  20. (TxT)

    (TxT) Member+

    Jun 9, 2004
    Tampa, FL
    Nat'l Team:
    United States

    And it comes in handy when watching the games on Telemundo :D
     
  21. Metros Striker10

    Metros Striker10 New Member

    Jul 7, 2001
    Planet Earth
    I personally think that the more one can learn, the better. If you have the chance of mastering another language, go for it. You never know when it might be useful. Plus, studies have proven that the more languages one know's the easier it will be for them to learn other things.
     
  22. TeamUSA

    TeamUSA Member

    Nov 24, 1999
    Tianjin, China
    Club:
    Borussia Mönchengladbach
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I fought through the two years required in high school. Had an epiphany in college and speak Spanish fluently now.

    Working on the German slowly, in preparation for the 2006 World Cup.
     
  23. uclacarlos

    uclacarlos Member+

    Aug 10, 2003
    east coast
    Club:
    FC Barcelona
    Nat'l Team:
    Spain
    It has nothing to do w/ "drive". It has to do w/ large class sizes and vast territories where monolingualism rules the land. In areas where there is heavy contact btw languages, language learning tends to flourish, depending on which is the dominant language and how that dominance plays out in social, political and economic arenas.

    In large US cities, you'd be surprised at how much ppl know a foreign language. In Cali, the average person knows upwards of 200 words in Spanish w/o even thinking. (I can't remember where I got this fact, so I could be off.) Certain professions pick it up really quickly: health care workers, legal system workers (from cops on to judges and clerks), utilities, construction, soccer, etc.
     

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