Foreign Language: We Aren’t Doing Enough

Mitchell King, Guest Writer

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  Over the past semester, I have been studying foreign language education for my EAPPSSA senior project. Within this research, I learned of the benefits to students who take languages such as Spanish or French for their whole school career. I have also studied French here for the past four years and studied Spanish from Kindergarten to 7th grade. My research and personal experiences have shown that those who take foreign language in school generally become more creative and intelligent and are able to easier find jobs in the workforce after school.
At Wayzata, students begin taking Spanish in 4th grade, but are only required to take it until 7th grade. It is because of this that I feel that our school should change our programs to require students to learn a language from Kindergarten onward into high school. We pride ourselves as being one of the top schools in the state and the nation, as the new banners at the entrance to the school say, yet we only require language for four years. Some of the most sought-after schools in country, outside of our nation’s capital, have switched to teaching their students these languages. These schools have realized the fact that they need to have a stronger language program to compete globally if they want to have the strongest students. By not switching to teach all Wayzata students language from kindergarten onwards, we are risking falling behind in this regard.
  Taking a look at Wayzata, I learned that our schools spend a lot of money on wonderful programs to assist with those students who are in the English Learners program (EL) in the school. However, they are often taken out of their other core classes to enhance their English language skills. If we were to implement a program such as detailed above, these students would not have to worry about falling behind in school due to missing out on their math, science, or history courses, they could take those the same as everyone else. Then, when it comes time for foreign language courses, these students that already speak another language like Spanish or Arabic fluently could take English courses to boost their skills in their secondary language like the rest of the student body.
  Overall, it appears that students would benefit greatly from having the ability to study a foreign language of their choice from when they are young through high school. It would allow all students to have enhanced creative skills as well as find jobs more easily after high school. On top of that, it would allow our ELL programs to thrive without inhibiting those students from learning their other core courses. So, if we really are one of the top schools in the nation, shouldn’t we be doing the best thing for our students?

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