Speak English

September 4, 2014

Ray Augenstein

Ray Augenstein

I have noticed that Farwell schools have suspended their Chinese Language program. Now I may be a Johnny come lately, but I have a few thoughts concerning any foreign language programs being taught in our public schools. Have you noticed the language that some of our young people and, sorry to say, even the adults are using today. It’s hard to be certain that they were all taught English in the home and in the school, much less learning a foreign language they will never use and likely forget.

I know that If you go to certain parts of the United States such as the Bronx in New York City, or Arkansas, or the gulf of Louisiana and even Michigan, it is as if we were in another country, and have to learn how to speak a different language.

Now I know that to some people learning a foreign language is important. I have heard the argument that it would make them a better person, it would give them a leg up when it comes to getting a higher paying job, and help them to understand other cultures. Now don’t get me wrong, if learning a foreign language is your desire, go for it.

However, how many of us are going to move to China, nor are we expecting a mass immigration from China. Maybe some people have a fear that we are going to be invaded by China, or go to war with them. I don’t know. But to me the value of teaching our kids how to speak Chinese, when they really need to focus on learning English is not the best application of their time and talents.

If a child wants to learn a foreign language other than teenage slang, or text talk, ie: LOL, ROTFLMBO, Than I think they ought to consider what they are going to be doing with the knowledge, contract with a private tutor, and focus on learning the language in a setting that does not have a classroom settings, where they can be distracted, or not focus on learning.

When I was in High School, I took French. Do you know now much of it I speak to day? Maybe 5 words. I have taken Spanish courses to learn to speak Spanish, I still can’t hold a conversation with a Spanish speaking person. I took French to fill in my class courses, and did not apply myself to learning the language. If we offer it as a class, it could just become a filler and not a desire to actually learn a new language.

Why spend thousands of dollars to have maybe one or two students actually learn Chinese. And what of the Dialects. ) “Chinese” is not a language. It is a cover term for about 7 or 8 languages (not dialects) that share a common writing system. These languages are closely related, but are not mutually intelligible. Mandarin is the language that most people in the US learn as “Chinese”. Other Chinese languages are Yue, Min, Hakka, Kejia, etc. All told, there are about 250 languages spoken in China. Some of these have dozens of different dialects (especially Mandarin and Tibetan). Some of these have no dialectal diversity.

Sounds confusing to me. I say let’s focus on teaching English.


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