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Help city kids speak Mandarin, Arabic and more: Foreign language education is shamefully bad in this global city


“Mayor de Blasio’s announcement that within 10 years all New York City public school students will take computer science classes is welcome news. But Java, Python and C++ are not the only languages critical for 21st century success. Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic and French are vital, too. Learning human languages other than English is not only a major career asset, it opens the door to cross-cultural understanding, boosts self-esteem and expands horizons in so many ways. Sadly, in the nation’s most diverse and global city, home to the United Nations, the benefits that come with learning a foreign language are being acquired by far too few public school students…We know what works in foreign language instruction: early learning and immersion…Only through bold action can New York City succeed in preparing our children to compete for jobs in a polyglot world.”(more)

UK Youth will Struggle Without Language Skills in Global Economy

Newswire – D.E. Brown

“The marketplace has gone global. Business is no longer restricted by as many geographic or language boundaries…Arabic and Mandarin have risen in popularity with British students. This is good news as these languages are very important to the UK’s future…Unfortunately the increased business interest in these languages doesn’t help the overall decline in students studying foreign languages at school…Britain could lose its footing on the global business ladder if this trend continues. As the importance of foreign language skills grows each year, the UK government will need to introduce more rigorous schemes to generate interest.”(more)

Why I would choose an immersion course over a language degree

The Guardian – Fred McConnell

“I did not choose Arabic for an undergraduate course because I loved learning languages. All that mattered to me was travel and adventure, and in that regard my degree was highly successful. But I loathed all forms of academic work and was under the delusion that academics could somehow transmit Arabic over the course of four years via exposure and mental trickery. By the end of my degree, I came no where near close to fluency. Yet, the fact I never memorised a thing or opened my mouth in class didn’t seem to bother anyone. I kept up just enough to pass and avoided having to overcome my terror of saying something incorrect.”(more)

Language Skills Boost Work Goals

The Arkansas Traveler – Rebekah Harvey

“Learning another language has long term benefits… it is fun, challenging, and always helpful and impressive when traveling to a country where you can speak some of the native people’s tongue. Its benefits for life and boosting of marketability to the professional field are reasons enough to consider furthering an education in a foreign language.” (more)

Think tank finds education in Arab countries is falling short

The Jerusalem Post – Ariel Ben Solomon

“More than half of Arab youth are not learning while in school, concluded a new report released by the Brookings Institution’s Center for Universal Education. The report, titled “The Arab World Learning Barometer,” found that 56 percent of primary level children and 48% in lower secondary schools are not learning.”(more)

Speaking Multiple Languages Becoming More Important With Time

The Crimson White – Staff Writer

“It is vital to learn a language other than English, Koji Arizumi, director of The University of Alabama Critical Languages Center, said, and Americans are beginning to realize it…“Each language has a specific purpose,” he said. “Like Spanish – so many people speak Spanish here, so it’s convenient. Chinese is more for business. Many of the ROTC people are taking Arabic.””(more)