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Language instruction leans forward in K12

The District Administration – Emily Rogan

“Alaska recently graduated its first class of Russian dual-language students who began the program in kindergarten. That’s just one example of the growing diversity of language-immersion programs in U.S. schools. While Spanish remains a constant, there is an increased demand nationally for dual-language programs in Portuguese, German, French and Mandarin, says Pete Swanson, president of American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) and associate professor of foreign language at Georgia State University. Dual language and the increasing public awareness of the value of foreign language education will drive part of the discussions at the ACTFL’s convention in Boston this month.”(more)

Teens growing up multilingual has many benefits

The State Journal-Register – Anna Gegen

“Most Americans can respond to “¿Cómo estás?” or recognize the word “bonjour.” Others may have learned a whole new language in high school or college. But some teens in the area have grown up with more than just the odd phrase of a language other than English. According to a Gallup poll, about a quarter of Americans can hold a conversation in a language other than English. The poll also found that 43 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds can speak a language other than English.”(more)

Early bilingual studies will help tomorrow’s grads | Editorial

Lehigh Valley Live – Editorial

“In post-war America, public schools began looking outward in many respects — among them, requiring students to learn a foreign language. For many baby-boom kids, this meant a high school choice among Spanish, French, Latin, German. The space race of the 1950s and 1960s kindled an interest in Russian. Some school districts with the resources to expand curriculum began offering courses in Japanese and other “new” languages. Today’s global economy has sparked an interest in teaching Mandarin Chinese in many schools and colleges. While the relevance of specific languages tends to follow the shifting demographics of globalization, one principle of language instruction has remained constant: The sooner kids get involved in a second language, the more likely they are to pick it up in a useful, retainable way, whether in an immersion program or a less-intense, continuing exposure in elementary grades.”(more)

Texas is desperate for bilingual teachers, so why aren’t more answering the call?

The Dallas Morning News – Eva-Marie Ayala

“Olivia Mendez can’t help but see herself in her second-grade students, many of whom barely speak English. She too struggled with the language when growing up in the Texas Panhandle. She too had to navigate the adult world when she did learn. “I was always the one translating and telling my parents what the teacher was saying,” she said. “I wanted to be the teacher telling the parent so that the kids don’t have to worry about being that translator. I want to promote success for them.” But Texas can’t find enough teachers like Mendez to keep up with the need.”(more)

Business Backs Bilingualism

Language Magazine – Staff Writer

“The California Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has voted to support Proposition 58, the California Education for a Global Economy Initiative, or LEARN (Language Education, Acquisition and Readiness Now) Initiative on the November 2016 ballot. The LEARN initiative, authored by California State Senator Ricardo Lara, (D-33), removes decades-old barriers to student learning by amending Prop 227 and allowing educators to use the most effective teaching methods possible to help students learn English and other languages.”(more)

Learning a new language shouldn’t be foreign to Americans

The Las Vegas Review Journal – PAUL HARASIM

“Research shows that only 18 percent of Americans report speaking a language other than English, compared with nearly 60 of percent of Europeans. According to former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, in 2008 just one quarter of U.S. elementary schools — the level when students best learn languages, research shows — offered foreign language instruction. Usyk can’t understand why foreign language instruction isn’t mandatory in American elementary schools. Just 10 states require foreign language study for high school graduation. Nevada’s not one of them. Of the Clark County School District’s more than 200 elementary schools, about a dozen schools offer a foreign language. Usyk said she’s teaching her 22-month-old son, Matthew, both English and Russian, and he’s picking up both. She’d like him to learn an additional language in school. “Children are sponges when they’re young. That’s when they learn languages overseas, ” Usyk said. “I’m sure he’ll be more marketable the more languages he knows.” Though Matthew then said “da,” I couldn’t tell whether he was using the Russian word for yes or noting in baby talk that he was picking up his bat.”(more)