National Standards for Foreign Language Education. Language Magazine Â» The U.S. Foreign Language Deficit. Kathleen Stein-Smith tells it like it is — why it matters and what we can do about it Why It Matters In an increasingly globalized world, the U.S. is at an ever-increasing disadvantage due to the lack of foreign language skills among Americans. Other than heritage-language speakers, it is estimated that only between one in eight and one in four Americans have the foreign language skills necessary to hold a conversation in a language other than English. According to the Modern Language Association, enrollment in a course in a language other than English at the postsecondary level stands at 8%, as opposed to 16% in 1960 — the same time frame in which globalization has increased.
Among executives in international business, the typical American executive may speak one foreign language at most, while European and other international executives routinely speak multiple languages at the business-proficient level. Challenges to Foreign Languages in the U.S. Why learn a foreign language? Benefits of bilingualism. Students who study foreign languages tend to score better on standardised tests than their monolingual peers, particularly in the categories of maths, reading, and vocabulary.
You build multitasking skills Multilingual people, especially children, are skilled at switching between two systems of speech, writing, and structure. According to a study from the Pennsylvania State University, this “juggling” skill makes them good multitaskers, because they can easily switch between different structures. In one study, participants used a driving simulator while doing separate, distracting tasks at the same time.
The research found that people who spoke more than one language made fewer errors in their driving. You stave off Alzheimer’s and dementia Several studies have been conducted on this topic, and the results are consistent. Top 10 best languages to study to get a job: in pictures Your memory improves Educators often liken the brain to a muscle, because it functions better with exercise. Counterpoint: Foreign Language Education is a Low Priority: Points of View Reference Center Home. The Numbers Speak: Foreign Language Requirements Are a Waste of Time and Money. The average high school graduate spends two years studying a foreign language.
(Digest of Education Statistics, Table 157) What effect do these years of study have on Americans' actual ability to speak foreign languages? I started by looking at the Census, but it asks only about "languages spoken in the home. " Gallup has a survey finding that one-in-four Americans can speak a foreign language, but it offers no further details that would allow us to measure degree of fluency or the effect of foreign language instruction. After nosing around for better data, I turned to the General Social Survey. As usual, I was not disappointed. In 2000 and 2006, the GSS asked over 4000 respondents the following three questions*: 1. 2. 3. SCHIFFRES: Kill the language requirement. When Yale was founded, students were supposed to converse only in Latin — even in dorms.
Nearly a century later, a member of the Yale Corporation moved “dead languages” be made elective in favor of courses “more meaningful and useful for contemporary life.” Requirements relaxed, but it wasn’t until 1945 that Yale, reassessing its graduation prerequisites, codified the precursor to today’s language requirement. Now, it is time for Yale to evolve once again: Get rid of the language requirement. Before arguing against a specific requirement, though, I should define my litmus test for a legitimate College mandate.
Put simply, Yale should require students do something only if Yale knows that something will be the best use of each student’s time. The conventional wisdom, stated on the Center for Language Study’s website, is that knowledge of a foreign language has become “increasingly important” in our increasingly globalized world. “It wasn’t the worst thing ever,” we tell ourselves. Counterpoint: America's Future Depends on Bilingual Education: Points of View Reference Center Home. Is Learning a Foreign Language a Waste of Time? In an op-ed piece entitled “What You (Really) Need to Know,” published in the New York Times in January 2012, Lawrence Summers, former president of Harvard University and former secretary of the Treasury, calls on universities to reduce the substantial investments made to teach students foreign languages.
Though he understands that “it is essential that the educational experience breed cosmopolitanism”, he thinks that the efforts made to master a foreign tongue are no longer “universally worthwhile”. In his utopian worldview, English is perfectly sufficient for such utilitarian purposes as “doing business in Asia, treating patients in Africa, or helping resolve conflicts in the Middle East”. In his excellent rejoinder, Paul Cohen, an associate professor of history at the University of Toronto, highlights the “heavy political and social valence” carried by “this particular dream of a linguistically unified world”. ). Foreign Language Graduation Requirements: Guide to Critical Analysis: Points of View Reference Center Home.
Point: Being Educated Should Mean Speaking Another Tongue: Points of View Reference Center Home. Why America Needs Bilingual Education. Why America Needs Bilingual Education It is not uncommon to hear people say something to the tune of There are too many immigrants in the United States and they are taking all of our jobs.
When these comments are made they are usually in reference to lower class jobs that involve a lot of manual labor and do not involve communication, but the debate has gained fuel from another area as well: the teachers of America. "Monolingual English-speaking teachers who fear erosion of their job security have helped place bilingual education at the center of heated national debates. " 43 In some cases where teachers have become desperate, they along with administrators have in some instances encouraged "anti-bilingual education legislation. " 44 Jobs should be something that people choose not something that they are forced into because of social class, fluency/non-fluency, or race.
Sadly this inequality may become worse in the future if Bilingual Education is not more widely used and supported.