42 answers

Should Foreign Language Be Required in Schools?

these days do you think a child should need to know spanish specifically to function as an adult in the workplace?

I personally took french in high school. but all i retained was the alphabet and frera jacque? but i wish i had taken spanish. some job ads i have seen require bilingual specifically spanish. my son can speak korean and german. but my 3 girls took spanish. my SS who are mexican dont speak a lick of spanish...lol.

But most schools only require ESL classes to learn english, but not the other way around. i think in 10 years, its almost going to be a detriment if kids dont know spanish as well as english to make it professionally.

and btw,in case this post goes there, it makes me furious that you can take the U.S. citizenship test in your home language (imo, if u want to be a us citizen u can at least learn the language first) and specifically in Virginia you can take the drivers test in spanish....but the road signs are in english so i see that as a huge saftey issue.

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ftr, i happen to agree with you BUG.

thanks for the answers...i think with the hispanic population outnumbering any other right now, its important to try and know both languages specifically. especially for any profession where you deal with people. more and more cut backs in education with art programs and music programs, im afraid foreign languages may be next and i think thats lowering the standards for our kids educations and well being.

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I think that it is a tremendous help to be bilingual. Music (which helps with math skills), and foreign language should remain a requirement to graduate.

I actually think that Spanish should be taught to children in all 12 grades, right along with English.

I took 3 years of Espanol. It is definitely a skill you have to USE.

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In many parts of the country, kids are already learning it, along with math and science. I think its a good idea to have everyone learn it. I dont understand why anyone would be against having their children gain more knowledge on any subject.

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I think economics and oral communication should be required before requiring a foreign language.

We have people who can't effectively communicate in English even being born here, why add another language they can mangle.

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Xenophobia at it's best.
English is not the official language of the United States. English - belongs to and originates from England. The kings English. Doesn't that make English a "foriegn" language?
We don't even speak English. We speak a bastardization known as American usually pronounced Amurican.
So many flag carrying "Amuricans" have forgotten our heritage, forgotten the way, the why, and the how the US came about in the 1st place.

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I believe a foreign language should be required in school.
There are many benefits to learning a foreign language beside knowing how to speak another language: you learn about a cultural differences, which is important in today's global economy and there is scientific evidence that learning another language helps develop areas of the brain that come in handy for other tasks as well.
Learning a foreign language has NOTHING to do with immigration policies. It does not even matter which language you learn in order to get most of the benefits (though I see how learning spanish is an advantage in today's job market) - even learning a dead (latin) or rare language will offer benefits.

BTW - I don't think roadsigns in a different language are a safety issue at all. I have driven a car all over Europe and even though I don't speak a lick of Italian, Spanish, Danish or Swedish I can drive there just fine! If it was such a huge safety issue NO ONE should be allowed to drive abroad, for example when you go on vacation... or think of all the service men and women stationed in countries that don't even have the same alphabet... I would rather someone take a driving test in their own language and know the traffic laws than having them drive without a license and any idea what they are doing!

And as for the citizenship test:the test is in English and no longer multiple choice and you are asked all questions in English by a USCIS officer. It is an interview type test...that most natural born Americans would probably fail miserably if they had to take it... at least that what many natural born US citizens have told me.
http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.749cabd81...

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My kids have been taking Spanish EVERYDAY at the charter school they attend since KINDERGARTEN. With the same amount of money every other public school in the state gets, our school manages to educate our children to become responsible citizens of the world. Which I believe requires learning the discipline of mastering a foreign language.

My oldest just graduated 8th and will enter one of the best public high schools in the state into Spanish 3. The vast majority of her classmates, who attended the very high rated district middle school, will START their forgein language education as Freshmen.

Yes, I think it's important. Yes it is realistic to expect our kids should be taught FL from a very young age. Every other industrialized nation thinks it's important too and has been doing it, without fanfare, for decades.

We share a continent (and our closest neighboring continent) with Spanish speaking countries. Why shouldn't we expect our kids to learn Spanish? It shouldn't be the only FL offered but it's a darn good start.

Again I hear Americans complaining about trivial issues that deserve little of our attention. Why do so many focus on hot button issues that are so insignificant? We can all sit around arguing about what language public forms are printed in while our children go uneducated, people lose their jobs and homes and one medical problem can land you in the poor house.

Let's focus on what really matters. I for one love the sound of someone speaking Spanish!

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The rest of the world teaches their children other languages. We're really so far behind in not requiring it. At the very least, the skills are useful when traveling.

We live in a global economy and if we want our children to compete for good jobs, they need to know how to communicate with others. I am going to make sure both of our kids take a foreign language starting in junior high.

I took French from junior high through college and it came in handy once at work when they needed someone to translate a document from one of our Canadian offices. My memory wasn't perfect, but I could share enough to be helpful.

Foreign language skills are definitely an asset.

ETA: I passed the AP test in French Literature and earned three college units while in high school. Those units were extremely valuable at a time when college budgets were being axed and it was hard to get classes. The three units helped me graduate college in four years.

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So....we're just gunning for the illegal, Spanish speaking immigrants, here? ;)

The USA had better wake up and smell the coffee. Spanish IS America's second language.
Just like we're the lone hold out for using the metric system, we refuse to bend on this one. Really?

I get SO sick of people complaining about having to "Push 1 for English"!
It's about marketing, people! It's about profit and bottom line.
It's about companies serving their customers--ALL of their customers. Even the non-English speaking ones because, guess what? Companies want MONEY for goods and services from CUSTOMERS--even of their first language is Pig Latin.

K., ever stop to think that just MAYBE someone, somewhere has though about the "red flag" English/Spanish driving issues? Someone in a more powerful position than you? Maybe if people can recognize the STOP means ALTO--they got it, right? There are plenty of illiterates driving in this country--English And Spanish speakers.

As for teaching Spanish--it was one of the first things to get cut from our elementary school.

And for all of the card-carrying grammar policemen out there--ya think maybe we'd better start doing a better job teaching English here as well??!!

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I think that language should be reqiured in schools because it trains the mind to think in a different way, and because we live in a multi-cultural society. I studied Spanish for 5 years in school, and actually did use it during my years as a teacher.

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Of COURSE foreign language should be required, regardless of whether or not we have large populations of immigrants who speak any other language. English has its roots in lots of other languages. I don't know that I can think of any aspect of english, in fact, that is NOT rooted in anything else. People complain that so many people don't know enough of english to learn anything else, I say that learning something else will help with english comprehension, too. Often, learning things in tandem helps make them easier to understand. I think we don't start teaching foreign language early enough. The earlier you learn, the easier it is. Did you know, that all humans are born with the ability to produce the same sets of sounds? However, as we hear certain sounds and combinations, those are the ones we practice, and sort of lose the flexibilty necessary to do them. If we had practiced as children, for instance, the rolling rrr's in the back of the throat as in spanish or french would be a great deal easier for us as adults. Full comprehension isn't necessary at an early age, but familiarity is so helpful.

It also disappoints me that Latin is so rarely taught as a foreign language. Latin, being the root of most of the European languages, not to mention the language of medicine, is so very helpful to know.

No only that, but while english is the common language of aviation, french is still the common internationally used language of politics. Business used to use english as well, but the global economy is changing, and chinese is becoming more and more important.

As for the other issue, of learning spanish to accomodate immigrants, no - I don't think it's a necessity. But it's a smart business move. People are more comfortable speaking what they speak at home, whether they are proficient in another language or not. If you can speak to them in that language, they will do business with you. If you live near a large Korean community, you pick up a little korean. If you live in certain parts of Alaska, you might pick up some Inupiaq. This is how english got to be a conglomeration of other languages in the first place, and no doubt it'll continue. True, some more spanish words will inch into united-states english, just because spanish-speakers are a large immigrant population right now, but that's really no different from the rest of American history.

I agree with some of the others' observations that speaking a language and reading it quickly are not the same thing. You yourself, misspelled "Frere Jacques." (I'm not meaning to nit-pik, mind you, but it re-inforces the point - and yes, I am aware that I technically misspelled, it, too, as I left off the diacritical mark... :) )

Side-note for the road signs, even the drivers' test in english requires the student to identify them, not by what is written on them, but by color and shape. They are color- and shape-coded on purpose to make reading them unnecessary.

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I think that it is a tremendous help to be bilingual. Music (which helps with math skills), and foreign language should remain a requirement to graduate.

I actually think that Spanish should be taught to children in all 12 grades, right along with English.

I took 3 years of Espanol. It is definitely a skill you have to USE.

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Requiring languages? Yes.

Requiring a specific language? Heck no.

Sure, in some places Spanish is paramount. In others? French, Italian, Ethiopian, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Msndarin, Hindi, Pashto, Arabic, German, Russian... The list goes on.

I've lived all over the country (and in many other countries). Here in the PNW the Asian (ESP Chinese, Indian, Korean, & Vietnamese) & African communities (ESP ethiopian) communities are huge. Down south, CajunFrench is a req on one side and Spanish on the other. NE? Canadian French.

And nine of that is taking into account pocket communities (like the Hitites), nor where a child shall choose to live & work as an adult.

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In many parts of the country, kids are already learning it, along with math and science. I think its a good idea to have everyone learn it. I dont understand why anyone would be against having their children gain more knowledge on any subject.

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In NY 2 years of language is required to graduate. For most kids it ends up being 3 years since they split the first year's worth of information into 2 years. Personally having taken Spanish, living in NY and hearing mucho espanol and understanding almost none of it I think a language requirement is a HUGE waste of taxpayer money. On the other hand, if the student wants to learn Chinese (since they will own us in 10 years or so) or Latin (the base of much of our language) the languages should be offered.

I say this because my son who works around his languarge based learning problems (reading, writing - dyslexia, etc.) but is great with Math & Science is struggling with Spanish. He's having the worst time of it. It's really tough to motivate him becuase I know he'll retain NONE of it. His older sister took 3 years of Italian - she had no real difficulty with it, but has lost nearly all of it in just a year.

There are so many other more valuable things to teach kids - like household budgets, understanding finance & investing, mortgages, basic contracts, how to hire a plumber, doctor, auto mechanice, how to be a wise consumer, the value of saving, etc.

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I think economics and oral communication should be required before requiring a foreign language.

We have people who can't effectively communicate in English even being born here, why add another language they can mangle.

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We have millions and millions of people from other countries here. HUGE populations of them. Where does it end? Should we start putting all these other languages on signs, for "safety?" My grandmother lives in an area with a huge population of Japanese people. Should they have to put Japanese on all the signs? (Actually, they care enough to learn English. Most of them can communicate just fine.) What about places where the population is hugely Chinese? What about putting Chinese on the signs?

If I were to move to another country, I would learn the language...so I could function in that country. That country would not cater to me, and change everything, so that I could live there properly. Only in the good ole US. No, I don't think anyone should HAVE to learn Spanish. I think people immigrating here should HAVE to and WANT to learn English. I live in a heavily Mexican area. I can't tell you how many people get mad at ME, because I don't understand THEM. Hey, I'm a born citizen. I'm not going to go buy Rosetta Stone, so I can understand people who don't bother to learn the country they LIVE in. Did you know most kids graduating from high school have a terrible reading level? In my city, there are kids graduating with a kindergarten reading level. How about we focus on THAT and improving them on the language they DO know??

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No, but english should. =)

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I understand how people must feel moving to this country not knowing the language. We Lived in Italy for 4 years (Had my daughter there, love the place) and yah not knowing anything other that cio was scary. I hid in our house a lot or would only go on the US AF Base. then my DH pointed out how much I was missing by acting this way. That even though it was scary I wasnt alone. So we went and got me some "How to speak Italian" CDs and books. and even though my italian was (Still is) poor I started going out to the shops in you little village.
I was surprised at how these lovely people reacted to my poor speaking. Meny of them smiles and nodded and then took pitty on me and spoke English to me. I asked and Italian friend of ours why this wasy and seh said that even though it was poor, I was making the effort. I didnt demand that they speak English just because I did.
English is tought over there are a Must learn because most business around the word is done in English. However the people that Lived right next door to us didnt know English and my Italian wasnt very good. Even though we couldt really speak to one an other we still got along well. The bought my Son easter gifts, and when I started showing with my daughter, The Older lady made food and brought it over (yummy) we gave them Christmas cookies and other little gifts as well. We had i think a very good relationship with them even though we only spook a few words to one an other
So long story short (too late I know), I don't think asking people to learn Spanish hurts, but I would ask the anyone moving into our country do there best to try to learn English as well. Even if its poor, even if we can only say a few words to each other there are other ways to speak to one and other, if every one stays open and friendly.
Remeber That as some point we have members of your familys that moved here from someplace else (thanks mom)
Blessings

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First: YES you should have a minimum of 2 years of some language. I don't think they should say which language, but yes, most universities have that as an entry requirement so I think it should be provided before you start trying to get into a university. It really should be a matter for the student and the parents to discuss together, perhaps with the help of a guidance counselor, on what language would benefit them the most. Some students will be going into a form of business where Japanese or Chinese would be the direction they will need to go, to make it in their chosen career paths. For many, Spanish, but not all. A friend of mine took French and is working very successfully in the Belgian Congo. To each their own. That said, we purchased the Rosetta Stone homeschool edition and are learning Spanish together as a family. I'm not going to blame the school if my children aren't prepared for life....that's MY job. I expect him to be well ahead of beginning Spanish classes when he's old enough to take them. (He hasn't started kindergarten yet). When he's around 8, we will begin teaching him Swahili, because we want to retire (at least part time) in Tanzania or Kenya.
Second: it is not a "danger" for someone to take a driver's test in Spanish. The QUESTIONS are in Spanish, but "Stop", "Yield", etc are written as they are shown on the signs.
Third: You can learn the language well but that doesn't mean that you can test well in it necessarily. Moms are crying about the "pressure" of the English standardized testing on their English speaking little angels, so it'd be a lot of pressure to READ tests well enough to take it when there's already the pressure of just taking a test that holds your LIFE in the balance (the citizenship test you mentioned). You'd be surprised what questions are on those tests. It'd be interesting to quiz yourself and your children, as American born citizens, on what is on the test it takes to become a nationalized citizen. I daresay a huge percentage wouldn't pass.

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I think foreign language should be an elective and not mandatory BUT I can see where learning Spanish in some parts of our country-- CA as an example--where most job ads state "Spanish speaking req'd or a plus" is helpful for those of us that are only English speakers. It definitely helps a person out in the job market for sure.
My 3yr old granddaughter speaks English, Tagalog, Arabic and is now learning Spanish and doing very well with it. My son and DIL both speak multiple languages. It's a gift to be able to do it, I cant. I took Spanish in HS and college and still can only count and ask where the bathroom is ;)

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It's a rotten shame that our children are so poorly educated that we only learn one alternate language, and even then, halfheartedly. I have many friends that speak 5 or more languages fluently and I am hoping to raise my kids the same way.

As far as the driving/safety issue, people are smart enough to understand road signs even though they are in a different language. I have been to several different countries and not known the language and was able to learn their laws in MY language and recognize their road signs. I assure you that the language barrier didn't make me a danger to anyone. We have far more danger on our roads because of the sight impaired elderly and texting teenagers than someone who took the test in Spanish.

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Yes - any decent college requires at least 2 years of foreign language in high school for admissions so anyone college-bound take a foreign language anyway. I do believe that it should be part of the core curriculum and required to graduate. I know that there are kids with LDs who fail miserably at FL in high school so there should be exemptions but at a rule, yes all students should take some foreign language. It shouldn't have to be Spanish though.

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I majored in French in college, and spent time studying in France as well. Actually, my fluency in French was what landed me my first job - at an American construction company building retail stores in France! I have a good friend who double-majored in Japanese (he is not of Japanese descent, so he learned the language from scratch) and business. He is now the owner of an import company dealing with Japanese products. In my opinion and experience, knowing a second language is critical, even if only for the perspective it provides. I don't think Spanish should be required, but over the years, I have wished that I had studied Spanish as well. It's certainly useful in daily life here in California. I know enough to communicate with household staff (the terminology I need to use for nannies, housekeepers, and gardeners, pretty much), but it would be nice to be able to really speak the language.

I must admit that I find it strange that people live here for any extended period of time and still haven't mastered English. When I moved to France, I spoke only a few words of French (my first night there, I struggled with asking for a towel, I remember - I mean, REALLY I didn't know much French at all). Within a week I knew the basics, just from talking to people (or trying to!). After 3 months I was as fluent as I am in English. It was hard to force myself to speak only French, but I did it, and I learned the language. I think immersion is the best way to learn (vs sitting in a classroom studying verb conjugations) - so really, there's no good excuse for living here and not being able to speak English. Reading and writing, I can understand are difficult. Especially considering how English spelling can be SO weird - we have a million rules, and as many exceptions. I do believe on a driver's test, you should be able to take it in whatever language you're comfortable in, PROVIDED THAT you can read street signs comfortably. For instance, you need to know what "stop," "exit," "one way," "no left turn," etc mean. But it's not like someone whose first language is Spanish is going to be thinking in English while they drive, right? They're going to think in Spanish, and then read the signs and translate in their heads. That's what I do when I'm in France, and as yet, I haven't been a menace on the road...

I think in order to be a US Citizen, you should be able to read the test in English. It is the official language of our country, so our citizens should know the language. Presumably by that point, you'd have lived here for many years and would have had the opportunity to learn to read and write in English.

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I have various feelings about this .. One, I do think that for now, the U.S. Citizenship should be in English .. However, I like the idea of learning as many different languages as possible . The reason for that is you begin to have a better understanding of another person's culture in the sense that usually when learning another language , they generally throw in information with regard to that specific country/people. My son knows Italian, Spanish and English. (Spanish is mandatory at his school) and I don't mind it at all..
I would also add that if you consider that this world is not the world we grew up in.... it's more global.... therefore to keep ahead of the competition, learning foreign languages should be required.. I think it's more about adapting to the world , rather than the world adapting to you...
that goes both ways .... you come to the U.S... if the main language is English, then you adapt and then vice versa........ So do I think it should be mandatory. YES... because if as parents we can't see the benefits of that, then it's good that the schools can.. again, if we are to compete in a global society, if you can talk to your neighbor in their language, hey... you are a step ahead of the game..

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i think in order to live in a country that is not your own you should learn the native language. in no way am i saying we should not learn spanish, french, chinese but it shouldnt be a must. here in ca i took spanish and chior in order to graduate. i work in a diverse school and a lot of the teachers there are bilingual. my daughters pre k class was english and spanish speaking. one of my coworkers is chinese and knows english and speaks chinese at home.

i have no issue with immagrants or non english speakers i just think it that you should be required to learn and speak/write/read the native language where you are moving to.
how easy would it be to respond to a post on here that was in mandarine? german? spanish? i wouldnt be able to help same with a lot of others.

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I took French, too, because I didn't want to do what everybody else was doing. Taking a foreign language wasn't just about learning a second language. It was about nurturing tolerance for different cultures. If you took it seriously, then you also know that you also learned more about the English language by having that broken down in a foreign language. I can still read it and understand it, but what I also like is that I have a wider range for phonetic pronunciation. I have an "outside the box" feature in my brain, and I don't need to push a button to access it.

To answer your question, yes, I think that foreign language should be required, but not for the reasons you noted. I also think that people who live here should be required to do their testing, etc., in English. They should be required to have a working knowledge of the language in order to receive certain benefits.

ETA: Amanda L., I hate to hear French Rs rolled. They should be swallowed.

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I speak three languages. English, Spanish and Portugues. I'm not fluent in the last two but I can get myself in enough trouble!

My kids both had to take foreign language in HS and College. Daughter took Spanish, son took German.

I believe that we should be teaching our kids languages in elementary school and not high school. Kids learn new languages so much easier than adults do.

Now, someone mentioned road signs and language. I will speak from experience, no they don't understand the signs and such. We were involved in a terrible car accident many years ago. The person who ran the stop sign could NOT speak, read or understand English. He took his drivers test in Vietnamese. It was a horrible accident but thank God no one was killed. We were all rushed to the hospital. They had to get a translator in for the driver because he had no clue as to what was being said. He tried to blame everything on my grandfather. The reconstruction proved that he was to blame. This guy was in there yelling at us and saying God knows what. My brother and I were scared and our parents weren't with us. My grandparents were in the car. Both admitted, my brother had an injured leg, my nose was broke. So no, I do not agree that they always understand the signs. If you can't read English, you don't get to drive.

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The benefits to being bilingual are incredible! I think it should be required BEFORE high school!

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At the school in which I work, it is not a graduation requirement to take FL. I think this is the case in most public high schools but I don't know. I would be interested to find out if anyone else here has High schoolers or works in one.

The requirement at mine is they have to take 1 year of a FL OR a Fine Arts class to get their diploma. So if that's all your concerned about you can skip the FL and take Ceramics and you're good to go.

But Getting Into College is a whole different ball game- I don't know of a single college that doesn't expect to see about 2 years of Language study in high school to admit you (not counting CC or JC, I'm talking about 4-year College and University). Most of the biggies expect students to have taken 3 or 4 years of the same language in HS.

And to answer the question, yes I think a college-bound academic student should be well-rounded and have some Foreign Language study under their belt, for sure. A diploma-bound kid planning to enter the work-force, no it's not necessary. Of course it's helpful but if they are just trying to get through High school, we don't need to add on more requirements than necessary.

In general, I think FL study is a good thing. It's like music. A great skill to have, useful talent if you really keep up with it, but not crucial for success outside of the related field. Defnitely keeps your mind sharp. A good thing.

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I think it should be for HS but not sure as a requirement for lower grades, though an offered class would be great. As for teh citizenship test, the other languages are offered and I think should continue because even if one CAN speak English, that does not mean they can read it well. I knew a wonderful older Polish man. He was the kindest person you could meet. He had his residency and studied hard to learn English. But, he could not read it as well. When he took the test, they offered it in Polish and he took it. The oath was in English. If he had taken the test in English, it would have taken him many hours of reading exactly what the words stated.
For road signs, one language should suffice.

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our school district you have to take spanish in 5,6 and then 9th and 10th.
5th and 6th are "exploritory" and then spanish 1 in 9th and spanish 2 in 10th are required to gradute.

Our kids don't have a choice in the language. That is the only one offered.

No I don't think it should be required. My son this year will have to take spanish 2 and since one of his elective classes is band. So he has to put off another class that he actually wants to take and would actually be a greater help to him in the future..

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Although my daugher is learning some spanish in preschool, she doesn't enjoy it nor do I push it. My daughter did not learn English until she was 2 yrs old, and then she was totally immersed in it. So, she's already had to learn English as a second language. I think it would be overwhelming to her to learn yet another language to any level of fluency at this time. WHen she's a teen, perhaps, but not now. Also, I personally think that kids need a good grasp on English (including grammar and spelling) prior to adding languages as that is the common language of not ony our country but in many areas around the world. I work for a global company that operates worldwide, and the common language among everyone is English...even if it's someone in Russia talking to someone in China. In addition to all that, all kids in the U.S. need to know English so that they can get help and be comforted in case of an emergency or natural disaster where they might need or encounter police, firemen, medical professionals, or a helpful adult. Spanish as a young child is a "nice to have," but it would be valuable to learn in middle/high school. I get that kids can learn so much when they're young, but they also can get overwhelmed and not learn the fundamentals that they will need through life. I have several friends who learned Spanish in high school, studied it in college, used it for overseas study programs or the peace corp and are fluent (and now bi-lingual elementary teachers). Waiting past elementary school is not too late.

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In this country, as well as in many developed/fastly developing country, English is the language used in 90+% areas - Road signs, government communication, commonly spoken language, media, sports, colleges, science, everywhere.
If someone wants to belong, I think it is on their head to learn English and use it. Schools should focus on teaching the English language in effective manner, without just taking it for granted. Speaking a language at home is different from actually learning it well.

That said, I think it is nice to know and learn more than one language. I myself speak, read & write 3 languages fluently, 1 not so fluently, and can manage to understand and baby-speak another 3 languages (It is common for many Indians to speak multiple languages, so nothing huge...) I enjoy it, and like to think its helped me gain an open mind to various cultures, regions and lifestyles.

So long as English is taught, it would be nice to let children choose other language(s) of their interest, and be given an opportunity to learn them.
ETA------------------
For those to whom English is not their first language, I believe parents should encourage their children to try and learn their native tongues - if schools offer those languages, that's good. If not, maybe the parents teach it themselves, or some other means. It would be a nice thing to connect to families and heritage.

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no I don't think it should be required. I have never taken another language. When I was in school you had a choice of either fine arts or language. I chose choir. I was in it all 5 years and almost decided to major in it in college but changed my mind. I have no reason or need to speak another language

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Yes, I believe a second language should be required. But no, I do not believe it should necessarily be Spanish. There are many options. Mandarin and Hindi are spoken by more people. Arabic and Japanese speakers are in great demand. There are huge pluses to children learning about another language and culture.

MANY public (and private) schools REQUIRE children to take a second language so I think your statement about ESL classes is untrue. My son will be required to take Spanish beginning in first grade at his public school (he took it in preschool and kindergarten at a Montessori). He can pick another foreign language beginning in third grade (I think Spanish teachers are simply easier to come by for a school).

I took French through high school. I think any Romance language facilitates learning another one. I also am excellent at menu reading.

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The idea of learning a second or even third language is not so much to communicate with people who live in the US but don't speak English but to prepare the kids to be able to work in the now global marketplace. In most European countries all kids learn their own language, English and one more language.

I totally agree with you that anyone moving here should have to learn English and be reasonabally fluent. They should know how to speak, read and write English. When I lived in So. California ('85-'95) the LA teachers went on strike and one of their big issues is that they were trying to teach in 86 different languages. !!!!!!! The cost to translate and print all school materials in many languages is unbelieveable.

The real problem is that The United States never declared a National Language. If you want change ---- contact your Senators and Congressmen/women.

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Two years of foreign language used to be a requirement for graduation in California. Unfortunately, due to budget cuts (I guess) it is not required and in fact very few students chose to take a foreign language anymore because they don't have room in their schedules with the other requirements.

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Yes, I think foreign language should be required. It's a good thing for kids to learn and study. I actually think they would benefit from starting to learn either Spanish or Chinese in elementary school.

While I think Spanish and Chinese are probably the most valuable where I live, I realize that other languages may be more important in other parts of the country. Regardless of which language they choose, I think it's a wonderful thing for kids to learn. I've actually retained a pretty good amount of my high school Spanish, though I can no longer conjugate verbs correctly. I'm able to get my point across though, and that is well worth it to me.

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My kids are in full french immersion. There are so many benefits to learning a second language.

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Yes, I think that a foreign language should be required...I took french in high school. I do think that knowing spanish is a real asset today. It also depends on where you live too. If you live in Miami, I don't see how you can get by without knowing spanish....

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Well to answer the initial question of whether it should be REQUIRED: no. I don't think it should be required. And I am a bilingual person who learned Spanish in High School! But I saw many many people struggle with learning a second language. I felt for them. They were more math or art oriented. Spanish, French, or Latin were so hard for them, and they were truly trying! I say if you are going to make a second language mandatory, then allow American Sign Language to count as a choice.

But as for your point that workplaces really do WANT you to speak both languages - I agree that it is very very beneficial for people to have two languages. Heck you get paid more for speaking Spanish in many jobs! I was a teacher and taught my students to add, subtract, multiply, divide, write sentences, learn history, science, etc all IN SPANISH. THat's right, I did not teach in English. I was paid extra to teach them their basics in their native language. Sure, ideally our taxpayer money woudn't go towards educating these children in Spanish, when we speak English as our native language here in the USA. But it is what it is. Did I mention how many illegal immigrants I taught? Yay free education in USA!

I am thankful that I was required to learn Spanish in HS b/c it opened up a lot of doors for me. Languages are easy for me though. Not everyone has an easy time with language, so although for me it was good to have a requirement, I don't believe it's good for everyone.

(BTW - makes me mad that they have free ESL classes at my library, but no free Spanish classes! Carlos will get the bilingual job and poor uni-language John will not get the job.)

And yes I am slowly teaching my son Spanish. But I will not "require" him to be fluent or anything. But he is learning that I can communicate with more people than he can just because I speak a second language. And he LOVES to communicate and talk to people. I thik Spanish will come easily for him.

@NYMetroMom: I wish I could send you many many flowers. I agree that there are MANY things that children don't learn that they should be. Lots of people I know are very successful with earning money, but can't keep their checkbook in balance. They worry not about credit or paying percentages, etc.

@Bug: Yes yes yes!

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No, foreign language should not be required. Yes, it should be offered, but not required.

No, I do not think a child needs to know spanish to function as an adult in the workplace, unless the workplace requires it. I speak spanish and never used it at work, and only used it once at an internship. Requiring all students to learn Spanish is like requiring them to learn Latin. It is very useful in certain arenas, but not most. Now, understand that I live in Los Angeles so I hear and see a lot of Spanish in the course of a week. But, I do not think it needs to be learned by everyone.

And lastly, schools must require ESL since all classes at school are taught in English.

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I took 4yrs of Spanish in high school. It was intill I moved into a mostly Hispanic city that I relized how little I was taught (and how many phrases were wrong). It was required to take 2 years of a foriegn language in my school, but when my sister went (she is 8 years younger then me) it was no longer required.

I thought that it already IS required to have 2 years of a foreign language to graduate HS? Is that not the case where you live?

Granted I graduated in the early 90's but I had to have 2 years of a foreign language to graduate....and I did take spanish!

I think Cross-Cultural Communication, Self Awareness and Emotional Intelligence should be taught.

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