The trend towards increasing foreign language instruction in our schools in both the types of languages offered and the quality of the program itself has been steadily changing. Over the past two decades, the inclusion of language classes has changed considerably. Where it was once the right of the older student to struggle and stutter their way through advanced language instructions, schools began to see the benefits of beginning instruction at younger and younger ages, where students did not struggle to understand new languages, but seemed to happily and simply include it in their daily lives.
For the generation of parents with small children in school now, the languages offered were standard French, Spanish and German. If you were lucky, your school may have offered Latin, which gave you a leg up on science and languages in your academic future. Now, languages are big business, with school fighting for their part of the budget in order to get the best instructors for the youngest of students.
Education News carried the following story about changes in language education in the U.S.
WASHINGTON — Thousands of public schools stopped teaching foreign languages in the last decade, according to a government-financed survey — dismal news for a nation that needs more linguists to conduct its global business and diplomacy.
But another contrary trend has educators and policy makers abuzz: a rush by schools in all parts of America to offer instruction in Chinese.
Some schools are paying for Chinese classes on their own, but hundreds are getting some help. The Chinese government is sending teachers from China to schools all over the world — and paying part of their salaries.
At a time of tight budgets, many American schools are finding that offer too good to refuse.
The program being referred to in this article is the Confucius Classroom program. In an effort to further a global community outreach program, the Chinese government is stepping in and offering large grants to schools that desire a Chinese language and culture program for their students and communities.
In the Northeast, Dalton is one of the first schools to be approved for this intensive and unique Chinese language and culture instruction.
Language instruction for American students, especially those who have parents long removed from the cultural and linguistic ties of their family history, is vital to the continued global growth and development or our children.