America’s lack of foreign language education


The CHS foreign language classes offer students the foundation they need to grow as a Spanish speaker, but some wonder if more should be done in elementary and middle schools to teach foreign language to younger kids.

Andrew Seckular and Ethan Wen

More than half of the world’s population is able to speak multiple languages, according to the BBC. However, the Washington Post reports that only 20 percent of the American population is bilingual. This shockingly low number is due to the lack of foreign language classes in American high schools.

In many elementary and middle schools, foreign language classes occur once a week, creating the impression in young students that learning secondary languages is less important than learning their other core subjects.

Furthermore, the way second languages are taught in American schools are often grammar-heavy and overlook the most important aspect of learning a language: conversational speaking.

Sophomore and native Spanish speaker Ariana Ortiz of Long Branch noted that CHS’s curriculum is different from classical culture.

“As long as you can speak the language, you’re fine,” Ortiz said. “Although the way in which Spanish is taught at CHS may not create totally bilingual students, it does expose students to a culture unlike our own.”

Spanish teacher Karren Britto emphasized that conversational speaking, reading and writing Spanish can be important for jobs.

“Like most classes you are given an introduction and then you apply those things to the more intense, higher level thinking skills,” Britto said. “You have to have the foundation before you go into the real world, just like you’re not expected to do engineering on the first day of math class.”

Senior student Brielle Karolak of Brielle has focused on the conversational aspect of Spanish over the last four years.

“I have gotten way more comfortable with listening and interpreting and then being able to respond, which is obviously what you want out of a language class.”

If America does not fix this problem, their companies will not be able to hire people to do foregin public relations in other countries.

Spanish teacher Sabina Campbell jokes about America’s lack of bilingual education.

“What do you call a person who speaks three languages?” Campbell asked. “Trilingual. What do you call a person who speaks two languages? Bilingual. What do you call a person who speaks one language? American.”