In this white paper, Graduating Globally Competitive Workers by the Center for Digital Education, it is pointed out that "8 to 10 Americans speak only English and a decreasing number of schools are teaching foreign languages. Compare this to the fact that 200 million children in China are studying English, and every educated child in India learns English."
Do you see this as a problem? What languages are offered by your school district? What is your school doing to help students keep a global competitive edge?
Hi Jane Brown,
Two of the School Districts I subbed in teach Spanish and French. It sounds like China and India have prepared their students as more globally competitive workers. When I was in Middle School I took Latin, German, Spanish, Italian and French. In High School I took Spanish and Italian. In College as an undergraduate I took some French, Spanish and Italian.
Unfortunately I did not keep up with my foreign languages. I can pick up here and there when I have Spanish students and can remember some Italian now and then. I think Spanish is the most valuable in global connections because the Spanish speaking population is growing.
Globally speaking, we have to consider what are the languages that are necessary to conduct business in today's world. English would certainly be one of those languages, but I have read where French is also a major language to consider for business purposes. As far as American schools are concerned, we aren't doing a very good job of teaching Business English and French is more of a footnote, so yes it is a problem. Honestly, schools are more concerned with scores on standardized tests than worrying about competing with other countries in graduating globally competent workers. How can we compete in anything if the end result of a high-school/college education results in a degree that doesn't mean much with respect to the world economy?
It does concern me that the rest of the world considers being bilingual important but in the US we don’t emphasize it too much. In the article, Why Bilinguals Are Smarter, it explains how learning 2 languages helps the brain develop. So if we want to have a society of intelligent people and compete with China and India, then we should encourage bilingualism so we train of brains to think better. At my daughters elementary school there wasn’t any opportunities to learn a second language which is too bad since the younger you start the better you shape your brain for learning another language. Once my daughter got to middle school she could sign up for Spanish. She has been taking Spanish for 3 years now and is doing well. She can say common phrases and can read most literature in Spanish and understand most of it. I am grateful that at least in middle school they offer a second language.