Should a foreign language be taught earlier than middle school in US public schools?
In the province of Quebec French is started or at least when I attended school in grade one or two. In my opinion the younger the better. Children seem to want to learn languages at an earlier age.
A language is best learned the younger a person is.
But, who's to decide what the child should learn?
Parents aren't always informed and if we let the school choose, there will always be a strong bias.
My dad made me take french and now as I am going into a biochemistry field, I realized it was a bad decision.
Developmentally speaking, the earlier the better. I started learning Spanish in 4th grade (besides what little bits I learned from Sesame Street), and I think that was too late to give me many real, lasting benefits. It's so much harder to learn a second/third language as an adult!
Now, if you subscribe to my husband's camp, you believe that English is the only language that should be spoken or learned in the country - by anyone. [I love him dearly, but there are some things we will NEVER see eye to eye on, this being one of them].
Cognitively, learning a foreign language is so good for you. I'm starting to try to teach our two-year-old some Spanish now. Unfortunately, she just gives me strange looks. I think she's learned a little too much from her daddy!
Absolutely. Your brain seems to comprehend languages better when you're younger. I live in Quebec (Canada), where the official language is French. They make you take French-only courses for grades 1 and 2 regardless of the language you speak.
As of grade 3, if you're a native English speaker, they let you take what's called "immersion." Basically, half-English and half-French all the way to the end of grade 9, then only one or two courses in French (one being the actual French-language class) up until the completion of grade 12.
The result is that I'm fluently bilingual in both languages, even after years of being in English-only work environments. Meanwhile, I took Spanish for all of middle school. I remember how to introduce myself, state my age, ask for two beers and direction to the library. I also took computer programming in college (it's basically a written language in its own right) and remember NOTHING. Moral of the story: youngest age is best.
I'm not sure why kids are fluent in about 3 languages by the time they graduate. Unfortunately some aren't even fluent in their own language by the time they graduate.
Yes, because the earlier a child learns a different language the better the chances that they will pick it up and know it for life. Also, learning the language early on will also guarantee that they will not have an accent when speaking the second language. I am a perfect example. My first language was Spanish and I did not learn English until I entered kindergarten. Before the year was out, I had picked up English very quickly and now when I speak it you would not be able to tell me apart from anyone else. Good news is that when I speak Spanish, I also do not have an accent. And I read and write each one fluently without trouble. This has come in very handy in my Marketing career since I have worked for international companies and done a lot of freelance Spanish translation projects. I plan on teaching my children other languages aside from English as early as possible just as my parents did.
Yes but there should be one concern that public schools (and the government should think about) -patriotism. If one goes to the United States i.e. emigrates, one should be able to speak the native tongue and not let the environment adapt because of foreigners who will later on call themselves as American citizens. It is true that the United States was founded by immigrants but a line must be drawn.
Learning a foreign language should be a choice BUT it is helpful if one's child speaks a foreign language or two because it opens doors. I speak 3 major languages and 1 Asian language and learning these languages has opened doors for me.
But curriculum choices are always hard because there are so many things that are really important, and only so much time to teach them. Science literacy is highly important, and math is integral to it; music and art are very valuable for cognitive and emotional development; social studies to understand the world we must live (and vote!) in; and so on.
What do you leave out, or skimp on?
But language is special in that early acquisition is so much more effective, and so much easier, than later in life.
I think the answer is definitely yes. The human brain is most adept at learning languages at early ages. Having fluency in another language can only help you. Although English is most commonly spoken in the US, we have no national language and it is (in my opinion) only a handicap to our future global development to insist that English be the only language our children know. I don't think it's unpatriotic to suggest speaking other languages - after all, nearly every one of our Founding Fathers spoke French.
I would agree for a foreign language to be taught as early as possible, with the following caveats.
1) As the U.S. has no official language - English is properly classified as a foreign language and all students, regardless of ethnic background should be required to pass English language courses at each grade level - including a class on listening.
2) Students should be required to speak at least two languages with one of them being English.
In Indonesia they have Bahasa Indonesian - required of all students nation wide to study, use and pass courses in. Plus they have Bahasa Daerah - which means local language or dialect. That can be any one of hundreds of local languages or dialects of Bahasa Indonesia.
I would guess probably not. After all, we want to make sure American-born students can get English straight first! After all, with the funtional illiteracy rate the way it is, it would appear we're having a problem there.
Also, I wonder if we Americans aren't being a bit hard on ourselves. After all, English is a difficult language to learn, so I understand from ESL students; English, due to its grammatical features is supposedly one of the very toughest languages to learn. Maybe, just maybe (I could be wrong) this also means that English is comparatively toguher to master for native speakers than other languages?
Yes! I am currently homeschooling my 3 children and found that in the midst of us learning Latin, we are also learning better grammar for English. The discipline of learning a foreign language and about that language and/or country of origin will broaden the children's minds. Keeps there brains and mind working. I think this would afford many kids more opportunities. Learning a foreign language is high school is almost a joke to me. I barely remember my Spanish from high school, I was to busy having to work and just keep up with the rest of my studies to really soak the language in.
Absolutely... we are factually a multi-lingual nation and, our education system should reflect this reality.
We should begin the teaching of foreign language in Pre-K
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