To the Editor:
Yes, there is a national imperative for language learning (“The National Imperative for Language Learning,” Jan. 26, 2011). The problem is: Where is there time in the school day? Already, social studies work at the elementary level is in decline due to the emphasis on reading and math. At the middle school and high school levels, the day is crammed, with little room for electives like foreign language.
I suggest a new look at who should be required to take all those math classes. Should a secondary student whose career goals, talents, and interests are not geared toward science and technology be required to take all four years of math? Why not allow an exchange of several years of a foreign language in place of higher-level mathematics and science courses?
This nation does not need to prepare 100 percent of its students for full-time science and technology careers. Insert foreign-language courses back into the curriculum, and include vocabulary lists of science and technology words that will facilitate the ability to translate informational texts. And while we’re at it, let’s lengthen the school day and the school year to meet the global education challenges of language, science, and technology.
A version of this article appeared in the February 23, 2011 edition of Education Week as It’s Time to Make Changes for Language Learning