Cutting foreign language opportunities in school and downplaying the importance of proficiency in a foreign language greatly diminishes America’s ability to operate in the modern, fast-paced, globalized world.

I think I have said before that the world is shrinking as people move around.  Today rather than town to town they move country to country and not necessarily to the nearest country to themselves it can often be at the opposite side of the world. This news article discusses one persons feeling about this and the role that languages play in communication.

The statements below can apply to the UK and similar countries as well as the USA

It has been a source of pride and a political point for many that English is the “official” language of the United States and those who come to our borders should learn the language. But as a country that wants to continue to be a world leader, we will need to be very serious about pushing our students to be proficient if not fluent in at least two languages.

It is not un-American to be bilingual and it is not a sign of defeat to have bilingual signs. If anything, it makes us stronger as a nation. After neglecting this issue for generations, it is time to turn our educational system around and place learning a foreign language as one of the most important aspects of an education. Learning a foreign language in the United States needs to move out of the “elective” realm and into the realm of “core subject.

To become truly global citizens then language has to have a place in school curriculums and current discussion should be looking at the sort and types of languages that should be supported in schools.  For me the choice is easy support everyone who arrives with a language other than English to keep their previous languages and learn English. For all learners learn at least one language although from my experience the nearer languages are together the better for the learner to realise that each is not something totally new but  connect with each other.

I was lucky in school to learn French, German and Latin which I loved.  The Latin was great because it helped me understand English more. Recently I have done a lot of work in Italian, with an Italian translator, and can immediately see the benefits of learning both languages together and I think it would make learning a  langauge less scary. We should look globally at the languages most needed by global citizens and then find a way of supporting this via school curriculums.

As Adam Hogue says quite succinctly

America is in constant transition. With higher populations of minority groups becoming more dominant in the American landscape, we as a country should be a land of many national languages, not just one. Schools should be moving towards bilingual education in all subjects and students should be able to pursue an education in a variety of languages. Language has the power to change the perception of a person as well as a nation. This should not be forgotten as America continues to define our place in the global landscape.

As I study Hanguel, I am really trying to make up for lost time. I want to pick up a second language with more proficiency than I have in French, a language in which I can only rattle off a few verbs. It is up to the Millennial generation to place foreign language as the centerpiece of American education in the 21st century. Making that change will change other countries’ perception of America and l make America a better place to conduct business and study. Whether it be Mandarin, Vietnamese, French, Spanish,

Hanguel or Indonesian; a foreign language is key in our rapidly globalizing world.

http://www.policymic.com/mobile/articles/16126/why-cutting-foreign-language-classes-in-schools-would-hurt-future-generations-of-americans

It’s like when I go to another town, I don’t know Spanish, I can’t talk to anyone, I have no voice.”

It’s like when I go to another town, I don’t know Spanish, I can’t talk to anyone, I have no voice.”

How would you feel if this happened to you.  Competent to speak to friends and neighbours in one area of our global world and suddenly unable to communicate on reaching another town or village.

This is an interesting news article that explores the school experiences of children and teachers who speak an indigenous language.

http://www.younglives.org.uk/what-we-do/news-and-events/news-archive/intercultural-bilingual-education-a-public-policy-priority

Intercultural Bilingual Education: a public policy priority
Research from Young Lives on the uses and attitudes towards Spanish and native languages in rural public schools was presented in Lima on 16 August, by the researcher Elizabeth Rosales. Her work explores the school experiences of children and teachers who speak an indigenous language. It is based on a language test and in-depth interviews with children, their mothers and teachers. Rosales found that although a large proportion of both the children and their teachers were highly competent in the indigenous language, Spanish was mainly used by both of them in school. Teachers used their knowledge of the indigenous language primarily to ensure that the children learned better Spanish, rather than using the children’s native language as the medium of instruction.

“Spanish is highly valued as it is useful for children to continue to higher levels of education and to find work in the future” Rosales commented. She found consistent with previous research that parents prefer not to register their children in bilingual schools and do not expect better quality from those schools. Their attitude to their own native language can be attributed to a fear that their children will be stigmatised or they will lose opportunities to become completely fluent in Spanish.

Following the presentation, Elena Burga (Director General for Intercultural Bilingual and Rural Education within the Ministry of Education) and Madeleine Zúñiga (Vice President of the Foro Educativo), lead the discussion.

Madeleine Zúñiga emphasised that indigenous children have the right to receive an education in their own language. “They have the right to learn in their mother tongue… but what about the right to learn good Spanish?” she asked.

Elana Burga confirmed that the Government has allocated more resources to schools that offer bilingual and intercultural education, and that attitudes to indigenous languages and cultures are changing. However, she acknowledged that basic public services in indigenous areas – including many health centres, police stations and the courts – do not have access to sufficient interpreters. She added that more bilingual schools, better teaching materials, better training for new teachers, are all needed in order to reach all children. “Our aim is that all children should be able to learn in both languages,” Burga said, adding for this to be achievable will require efforts not just from government, but also civil society and researchers.

Read more about the event on the Niños del Milenio website [in Spanish]
Bilingual Education in Peru: Read the policy paper by Elizabeth Rosales [in Spanish]

UCR trains teachers for bilingual classes

Here is an interesting story about the neeed for qualified teachers in bilingual schools and the innovative way that online work is used to help support the adults whilst learning. I think that we shall see more use of online lessons as the austerity measures bite and adult learners need to work their way through their teaching qualifications.

The hybrid class includes class meetings and online work, so it fits in the schedule of teachers such as Pablo Ramirez, a Rubidoux High School math teacher.

 

Ramirez said he hopes to teach in a dual immersion classroom once Jurupa expands its program beyond elementary schools.

 

Jurupa started its first dual immersion class five years ago at Sunnyslope Elementary and another last year at Stone Avenue Elementary, said Martha Gomez, director of language services for the district.

 

The first class of dual immersion students at those schools will start fifth grade and first grade, respectively, next month. The schools plan to add another grade to the program each year until dual immersion goes through middle school and high school, she said.

 

http://www.pe.com/local-news/topics/topics-education-headlines/20120727-education-ucr-trains-teachers-for-bilingual-classes.ece

Greater variety in second or third languages would encourage Puerto Rican citizens to look past the United States for opportunities

Sometimes it is good to have a different perspective which this story does. Puerto Rico is currently undergoing  a challenge wondering whether one, two or more languages is more important for a 21st Century curriculum for its children.  There are many different perspectives a few of which can be read about here.  I was interested that there is a  perceived need if they want their youngsters to be able to work in the world market maybe English and Chinese or Thai could be alternatives that need thinking about.

you can read more at:

http://www.eurasiareview.com/18072012-fortunos-plan-for-english-proficiency-in-puerto-rico-analysis/

here are a few snippets

Fortuño’s Plan For English Proficiency In Puerto Rico – Analysis

By Isaiah Marcano

With an electoral season approaching, the islands comprising Puerto Rico have once more become the center of debate and conflict. Recently, the current Governor of Puerto Rico and statehood advocate Luis Fortuño introduced a mandatory bilingual public-education program for all students on the islands. The initiative, called “Generation Bilingual,” emphasizes the importance of English proficiency among the islanders. Ultimately, his ambitious program aims to graduate a 100 percent English-Spanish bilingual class from secondary schools by 2022.(1) Given the economic upheaval and rise in violent crime on the island, Fortuño’s proposition is rather timely. The unemployment rate of roughly 14.2 percent has driven the local population to search for a desperate solution to its lingual and other woes.

Not all Puerto Ricans are convinced of the governor’s concern for their wellbeing, although bilingualism, especially fluency in English, is widely considered an essential asset for success in the globalized world. Though English is an official language of Puerto Rico and roughly 30 percent of the population has a relative command of the language, American culture and language remain alien for much of Puerto Rico’s Spanish-speaking majority.(5) Fortuño’s program of bilingual education has often been described as a step toward the further Americanization of the islands, although it remains in its nascent stages.(6) To this end, Secretary of Education Edward Moreno recently announced that American English will become the language of instruction in 31 of the islands’ public schools. More specifically, all subjects other than Puerto Rican history and Spanish language classes are to be taught in English.(7)

Moreover, the implementation of a mandatory English-Spanish bilingual program would further undermine the islands’ already substandard Spanish language education system. Exposing children to bilingual instruction prior to developing a command of the original mother tongue has definitive risks in the long run. Perhaps the most relevant includes a lack of mastery in Spanish or related subjects. Many argue that the government ought to address these flaws in the quality of education in Spanish prior to enacting any drastic changes. At this point, Fortuño’s plans might aggravate the shortcomings of the Puerto Rican public education system.(9) Additionally, research has shown that a command of the vernacular actually facilitates second-language learning to a great extent.(10)

Fortuño’s justifications revolve around the growing emphasis on English as an international language. These motives are untenable, however, given the growth of many states outside of the Anglo-sphere. Some increasingly useful languages include Mandarin, Hindi, Portuguese, Arabic, Russian, and French. Spanish has also seen a definitive rise in relevance as an international language.(11) Greater variety in second or third languages would encourage Puerto Rican citizens to look past the United States for opportunities and expedite the development of crucial ties with the rest of the world.

As the debate over Puerto Rico’s sovereignty hangs in the balance and the election for governor rapidly approaches, the world will watch to see which direction Puerto Ricans decide to take. Fortuño’s experiment is underway and islanders will have to soon determine whether or not a predominantly English language curriculum will address the archipelago’s unsettled woes of disproportionate unemployment rates and violent drug-related crime.

As an old island saying goes, “Lo que no conviene, no viene:” If it doesn’t help, it has to go.

 

 

Why it is important to allow our children to learn a language for the world of work and their community.

For many Teachers especially those who are not specific language teachers they often do not see the benefit of our children learning languages, and or being bilingual, pluralingual etc. Below is an article which shows in the real world that they will inhabit i.e. the world of work where their dual langauge or langauge ability will make it possible for them to do what they enjoy and also help the local economy and community.

EspanolSeguros.com Connects Bilingual Insurance Agents With Hispanic Consumers

Espanol Seguros Has the Opportunity to Not Only Serve the US Hispanic Population, but Serve Other Spanish Speaking Countries in the International Community

WAKEFIELD, MA, Jun 05, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) — Espanol Seguros has announced that its portfolio of more than seventy Hispanic targeted domains across multiple verticals is reaching Hispanic consumers and allowing them to connect with bilingual insurance agents across the United States.

With multiple wage earners and an average household size of 4 people or more, along with increasing adoption rates, US Hispanics continue to be an attractive and profitable market segment for insurance companies, particularly auto insurance. As Andrew Laine, Founder of Spanish Insurance, LLC, explained during an interview with LatinVision on February 27, 2012, “There is nothing new about the lead generation industry, nor about creating educational content sites. What is innovative is our approach and our focus on the Hispanic community. Our goal is to serve the Hispanic consumers in a comfortable environment and to give insurance providers a way to reach our growing population.”

According to Hispanic Market Advisors, a recent study by the Pew Hispanic Center’s 2010 National Survey of Latinos, sixty-five percent of Latinos went online in 2012 and seventy-nine percent of those Hispanic Internet users use the Internet to research products before purchasing them and companies before doing business with them. By providing Hispanic consumers with an educational platform in Spanish and English, Espanol Seguros is positioning itself as a single stop website for Latinos aimed at connecting the Hispanic consumer to a national network of bilingual insurance agents ready to walk them through the insurance process. As Andrew Laine affirms, “There will always be one section of the Hispanic population that is growing faster than another, but all groups need insurance.”

If you’re a US Hispanic or Latino, have the preference to talk to an insurance agent who can speak your language, visit EspanolSeguros.com and get free quotes from insurance companies to start saving money on your insurance policies. If you’re an insurance agent looking to expand your customer base among Hispanics and boost your sales, contact Spanish Insurance to receive advertising opportunities.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/espanolseguroscom-connects-bilingual-insurance-agents-with-hispanic-consumers-2012-06-05