Friday, January 13, 2017

As Need for Foreign Languages in School Grows, Access Continues to Shrink NEAToday

As Need for Foreign Languages in School Grows, Access Continues to Shrink:

As Need for Foreign Languages in School Grows, Access Continues to Shrink


Recently, Katrina Griffin’s students took on a hot-button topic: Should parents control how much video games their children play? They debated the question at great length, making fierce, fact-based arguments, aimed at swaying their peers.
And they did it—in German.
Consider what you’ve heard about the slow death of foreign languages in schools, and what you may already have heard or read: the number of language students enrolled has been declining for years, as has the number of language teachers.
Now, consider what Griffin heard in her own classroom: “A pretty heated debate! And it was in the target language,” she says.
Griffin and other educators are showing how to reverse the decline of U.S. language instruction. They are making language interesting and relevant to students, while also teaching them the critical 21st-century skills—collaboration, communication, presentation, and yes, proficiency in a second (or third) language—that will make them must-hire and give-them-a-raise employees someday.
The facts are these: Just 22 percent of elementary and secondary students in the U.S. take language classes or programs, according a new report from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. According to “The State of Languages in the U.S.: A Statistical Portrait,” among elementary schools, the percentage teaching language fell from 31 percent in 1997 to 25 percent in 2008, despite evidence that an early start provides an edge in acquiring language proficiency. Among middle schools, the percentage dropped from 75 to 58 percent.

Source: The State of Languages in the U.S.: A Statistical Portrait
In Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Vermont, New Hampshire and Wisconsin, more than 30 percent of K-12 students were enrolled in language. In As Need for Foreign Languages in School Grows, Access Continues to Shrink:
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