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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)

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