What does everyone think about the fact that Spanish language instruction is slowly taking over as sometimes the only language offered for students to learn in high schools and middle schools? How do you feel about French language instruction diminishing?
I believe that you are correct in your assessment that Spanish is primarily the second language that English speakers learn to speak in southern USA. The primary reason that it is the only foreign language taught in our school is due to lack of funds to hire other foreign language teachers. I live in Kentucky, which is technically in East Central U.S., but more often considered a Southern state. Currently, we are experiencing an influx of Spanish-speaking immigrants and so Spanish is becoming more popular and useful.
I think it's not a good idea to only offer one language course at schools, it should be the more the better. Personally, I took Spanish when I was in school for 5 years and have benefitted from it on several occassions at work and during travel. Not sure how much I would have benefitted outside of school if I had taken French.
What's about German ? What is true for French is also true for other foreign languages classes. In a Global society more than one language should be offered to students. In Europe it is very common that students take a second or even a third foreign language. Of course there seems to be more use for Spanish in the USA but how will it be in the long run? What happens to all the native Spanish speaking students who will be fluent in English and Spanish in the near future? Will they have a chance to take another foreign language other than their own?
Spanish is the second language of the US. If a school can only afford to offer one language, Spanish makes the most sense.
There is also a lack of foreign language teachers in this country. My son had at least four offers when he graduated from college because he had a double major in Spanish and French. This enabled the school he chose to offer both languages. If you live in the east near the Canadian border, French is a good second language.
French and Spanish are both latin based, so if you learn one, the second one is easier to pick up.
Double majoring in language is smart. My district is looking for anyone who has Spanish and any other language. The only problem is that they can throw you anywhere they need you, so be flexible. Another thing a lot of language teachers are doing is getting a second degree in ESL. It is a relatively easy degree to get at this point (but that is changing, too!). But once again, if you love the language you are teaching, you could be pulled from that into ESL.
I am a teacher of French and German at my school. . . and upon getting hired in 1997, I was completely out of touch with the fact that French was diminishing until I noticed that there was not 1 but 2 Spanish teachers. I also noticed that my rosters were small. I had only 9 students in my own French II class. Since 1997, I've tried to be someone who is open-minded and someone who is wise to the changes taking place in the world. I could not sit around and cry over French losing whatever popularity it may have had before the Hispanic World became so dominant into my own world. All I could do was be the best teacher that I knew and (know) how to be. So I decided that when it came time for me to get my Master's Degree, I'd get it in 2 areas: Reading Specialty because there is always a need for a teacher of Reading and then in Educational Leadership -- my principalship. I would have loved to have gotten a Masters in French but I could not risk it and what I've found is that these "fall-backs" have given me the confidence to know that if push came to shove, I could teach Reading or I could become a Principal in my State. I am a highly educated French Teacher -- in many areas. And I don't bash Spanish. I've had too many beautiful Hispanic children come into my life -- that I refuse to let this petty discussion cause me to hate them or their culture or their language. . . But I do have this to say for all of the negativity that I have read: If my fellow French teachers did not have an inferiority complex before having read this discussion, I'm sure that they now have one . . . .I was saddened by the remarks that I read that French need not be considered......just give up! I will not give up on being an excellent teacher. My students from the rural area of Harrison County are speaking French! They are downloading French music AND UNDERSTANDING it . . . . their lives are being enriched by being in my class and learning French. How dare anyone doubt what a student can obtain by choosing to take my class. . . .
I came up with a few REAL WORLD EXAMPLES as to how FRENCH has positively affected REAL STUDENTs LIVES. (Of course, I'm not giving names, just initials.)
1. FH received a full ride to Berea College 2008 -- why? She's minoring in FRENCH and it may be due to MY ASSOCIATION WITH THIS FINE INSTITUTION. Minoring in French probably helped because it's less competitive than other offerings . . . .
2. BA --- another full ride to Berea College 2009 --- why? She's also minoring in French and it could be again due to my association with this fine institution or because it's less competitive. No one thinks it is useful anymore but they do need students!
3. I've also helped SO & LM pursue higher education and believe me studying French/German HAD something to do with it. It's very competitive to get in somewhere where the cost is $0.00.
4. The Spanish cup may overfloweth but colleges and universities want more DIVERSE offerings from students. FRENCH/GERMAN stand OUT -- WAY OUT -- on college applications. My students have discovered this -- why can't others? Ask MC's sister -- she had the perfect GPA but couldn't get into the Nursing Program she wanted to get into -- why? The admissions committee told her that she needed to prove/show above and beyond -- many people applied with excellent GPAs.
5. The World Equestrian Games will bring 600,000 people from 60 different countries to Central Ky. French is spoken on EVERY Continent. The economic impact will be GREAT.
6. MC is going to be helping build a Protestant church in Belgium over Spring Break. Her French-speaking pastor said that there's no bother going to minister if you can't speak French! (Nichole Adams did this back when she was a student here -- she has since graduated.) The people of Europe want to learn how to be Baptist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian and they don't know how! The mission field is wide open.
7.IB's grandmother is from Morocco and speaks FRENCH. (Morocco is on the northern tip of Africa.)
8. KH's Mom, Mrs. BW -- is a manager of the Nicholasville Wal-Mart. She is networking with FRENCH people because the French want a similar store in FRANCE. Guess who's translating for Mom? My French III student --- who would have ever thought that French would be important for her?
These are only 8 stories and I think that I could sit here and add more -- well here's one more
9. ED is a Mechanical Engineer for Toyota in Ann Arbor, MI. They were extremely impressed with her ability to speak FRENCH. No one at her interview said, "Gosh, Emily, we really wished that you had taken Spanish instead." By the way, Emily NEVER took a lick of French in college -- it all started at HCHS and continued with Emily's travels to Europe. She's going to be making 6-figures -- and no French isn't the reason -- but it sure added to her repertoire. There are other Mechanical Engineers out there seeking employment -- you never know what the determining factor may have been in her success at landing a job.
Good for you! We've all got examples of how our particular language was instrumental in helping someone get into a particular school or to land a particular job. But the important thing is that our students are learning a second language. In a country where the prevailing notion is that the whole world should speak English (this is the only country in the world where being monolingual is the rule), our students have transcended ethnocentricity and are broadening their world view. This is what we must focus on, not quibbling over which language is more important.
I honestly don't care about either. Why is there a competition between them anyway? Both are beautiful languages and are useful when visiting countries like Spain and France or Mexico and several other countries who speak the languages. I will not say either so that I will not gratify your need to know which is "better."
Very interesting discussion. As a Spanish teacher, of course I believe that Spanish is important for use abroad as well as at home. However, there between 3,000 and 8,000 world languages, depending on who is defining language vs dialect etc. Why should we limit ourselves to bickering over Spanish vs. French and ask the question, why are we teaching more languages period. Arabic, Punjabi, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Japanese... the list goes on an on for what our students could be learning and why. Why would we fight over the scraps when there is a huge world out there and so many reasons to learn more than 1, 2, or 3 or more languages.
I took French in high school and with I would have taken Spanish. Where I teach, about 55% of the students come from Spanish-speaking homes, and the number is increasing. While it's good to know French and all, at the rate it's going in the US, learning Spanish is a must.
I can speak to the fact that our German program was eliminated from our high school a few years ago. We had strong numbers at the level 1 of the language, but there was a significant drop for levels two and beyond. So, we couldn't ask a kid to make a commitment to a language and then not offer him/her a full program for four years if the numbers did not support running upper-level courses. For one year we answered parents' questions, offered to place explanation letters in the students' files, but after that, kids just chose other languages. Our French numbers are down from a few years ago, but I don't think the program will suffer the same fate as the German. We have a French community in our area, so we have a good number of passive-bilingual students in our classrooms that would keep enrollment at levels that would justify keeping the program.
I think Spanish is the main language (and sometimes only language, unfortunately) offered to students because it's more popular than other foreign languages. In my high school, the only languages offered to us was Spanish and Latin, and frankly, despite the fact that Latin is supposed to be a dead language, I thought Latin was far more helpful than Spanish because Latin teaches you to break down words and define it based on their parts. It's good that schools are trying to introduce other types of cultures, but I believe we need a lot more than Spanish; in fact we need a lot more than French too.