The education experience in American public schools is quite different than it is in foreign countries. Imagine that most people in Belgium speak four or more languages on a regular basis; the country has two standard languages, French and Dutch.
Here, we only require our children to learn English and a secondary language is optional. Now that many parents have become more aware of the contents of school curriculum, they are more inclined to speak up to demand the types of classes that will benefit their children long into the future. Foreign language classes should be high up on that list for many reasons. Learn more about them here. There ought to be greater awareness among parents so they can voice their concerns at board meetings and vote in individuals who understand the value of foreign language learning.
Why Does It Matter?
Foreign language learning is far easier to accomplish when children are younger. Their minds are forming neural pathways and will develop to retain the language long term during the first decade of their lives. Certainly, people can learn foreign languages later in life, but it is much more difficult. When you learn a language, your brain translates it first before you can respond. Fluency comes from learning a second language the same way you learn a first one – through immersion. Most foreign language classes offered in public schools do not offer an immersion experience.
Learning a foreign language at a young age equips a child with skills and cognitive abilities to strengthen other learning experiences. It improves reasoning skills, math, science and helps the child to embrace diverse cultures and ethnical backgrounds.
If you think about the state of international relationships today with so many potential war scenarios, we really need our youth to develop empathy for other cultures to improve our chances of cooperating to solve international problems. Intolerance for the way others live and thinking we all need to behave the same way is what leads to conflict. Learning foreign languages and other traditions can help our children to grow up to be more tolerant and make them better citizens to preserve humanity.
Parents of toddlers are in a unique position in that they can get ahead of their child’s education and demand better content, so their children have enriched programs to look forward to. If more parents knew how advanced classes could be with changes structured to speed up learning and make foreign language a requirement in the early years, they would be demanding it from their school districts.
For the time being, parents can seek out extracurricular immersion classes, but they will need to pay out of pocket for the education. You have no choice about your tax dollars being designated towards the public school system. Your tax dollars should be working harder for you and that is why you want to demand better education for your children.
The United States can hardly be considered a superpower with an inferior education system. It’s high time we step up as a nation to ensure a successful future for our children.