What is the current situation of Language education in the public schools?
While it is very common in Europe to have language education in public schools, the situation in the United States is a bit more complicated. In the United States, the majority of children attend a nearby public school and of those children, less than one-quarter of them actually speak two languages at home. Since the other three-quarters of students do not speak two or more languages at home, it is vital that the public schools provide language education. Fortunately, many states require students to take some foreign language education, because those educational leaders in those states understand the benefits of learning a second language.
Brain Research and Language Learning
The public schools that provide language education offer classes in Spanish and French, but many schools are adding classes in Arabic and Chinese. Brain research shows that when children are young, they will have an easier time learning and retaining a second and third language, especially when they are compared to adult language learners. School districts around the United States have begun to add immersion schools, where all of the instruction is done in a foreign language, like Spanish.
Work in the Global Economy
When public schools provide language education, they prepare their graduates for the real world. The fact that there are over 6,000 languages spoken around the world, school graduates need to learn how to communicate with other people around the world. It is vital that students in the United States, where language education is not as common as around the world, learn a second language to be able to work in the global economy. It is no longer expected that everyone around the world will learn English, so native English speakers need to broaden their language skills.
More than Monolingual
With the ease of travel and as people move around the globe, languages are spreading rapidly. This means that communities can no longer consider themselves monolingual. When public schools provide second-language education, they support their own communities by teaching their students more ways to communicate. Language classes also provide an education in other cultures, so students leave the classes with more than just a collection of foreign words.
Learning Language Development
When students learn a second language, they also develop more understanding of their own language. This makes them better writers and speakers because they are more aware of how language develops. Most colleges are requiring that students have two years or more of a foreign language because students need to be able to function in a global society. It is vital that public schools continue to prepare students for the fact that billions of people speak languages other than English.