Foreign language instruction slashed in American colleges
Thread poster: Susan Welsh

Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:27
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Mar 28, 2019

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/26/opinion/learn-foreign-language.html

Do You Speak My Language? You Should
By Bénédicte de Montlaur
Ms. de Montlaur is the cultural counselor of the French Embassy in the United States.

In January, the Modern Language Association made an astonishing announcement in The Chronicle of Higher Educat
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https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/26/opinion/learn-foreign-language.html

Do You Speak My Language? You Should
By Bénédicte de Montlaur
Ms. de Montlaur is the cultural counselor of the French Embassy in the United States.

In January, the Modern Language Association made an astonishing announcement in The Chronicle of Higher Education: From 2013 to 2016, colleges across the United States cut 651 foreign language programs. French was the hardest hit, losing 129 programs, followed by Spanish with 118, German with 86 and Italian with 56. Once these programs close, they are very hard to reopen.

According to a Pew study from last year, only 20 percent of K-12 students in America study a foreign language (compared with an average of 92 percent in Europe), and only 10 states and the District of Columbia make foreign-language learning a high school graduation requirement.

The decline in language education could have devastating effects for generations to come....
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Tom in London
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:27
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Here too Mar 28, 2019

They've done it here too. Funding cuts forced on schools by the present government's austerity policies are forcing school heads to cut language classes.

Ordinary people are still being compelled to pay back the money that governments borrowed to bail out the banks following the 2007 banking crash. No bankers went to jail.


Cecile Andrade
Kaspars Melkis
 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 03:27
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Here too, but... Mar 28, 2019

When I was in school (many, many moons ago) the only foreign languages offered were French (basic education onwards), English (secondary education onwards) and German (higher education onwards). Things have changed and Spanish was added to the mix and nowadays it is possible to learn any of these languages from basic school onwards, though I’m not sure all schools offer all 4 languages. The fact that Portugal is a small country with a strong emigration tradition makes people eager to learn lan... See more
When I was in school (many, many moons ago) the only foreign languages offered were French (basic education onwards), English (secondary education onwards) and German (higher education onwards). Things have changed and Spanish was added to the mix and nowadays it is possible to learn any of these languages from basic school onwards, though I’m not sure all schools offer all 4 languages. The fact that Portugal is a small country with a strong emigration tradition makes people eager to learn languages, with a strong focus on English in marked contrast to the situation just a few decades ago when my generation was much more interested in French…Collapse


 

Colleen Roach, PhD  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:27
Member (2019)
French to English
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One of the reasons WHY -- in US at least Mar 28, 2019

This topic has been all over the language/translators' sites on Linked In for the last couple of months. There's a woman named Kathleen Stein Smith who has been alerting everyone who will listen (and probably some who won't) about what's viewed as a linguistic crisis. Here's what I wrote a short time ago on one of these Linked In forums where she was, again, posting an article, letting people know about this. Note: my comments relate specifically to the U.S. situation.


"I'v
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This topic has been all over the language/translators' sites on Linked In for the last couple of months. There's a woman named Kathleen Stein Smith who has been alerting everyone who will listen (and probably some who won't) about what's viewed as a linguistic crisis. Here's what I wrote a short time ago on one of these Linked In forums where she was, again, posting an article, letting people know about this. Note: my comments relate specifically to the U.S. situation.


"I've read this article and similar data recently appearing in various media/internet/education outlets & as a language lover, I'm as dismayed as you are. However, I never once have seen anyone mention what I see as probably one of the important reasons WHY students aren't wanting or willing to invest the time in learning a language (which no doubt plays a role in administrators' decisions to scale back language offering)s: employers nowadays are simply not willing to pay any extra for knowing a foreign language -- There IS data on this; I have read it and it's disturbing. I read one statistic on how much knowing Spanish, for example, earns someone in their career: the % of what an employer will pay for this is minuscule--virtually nothing. (As I said, there are reasons for this, which I'm not going into here; it's multi-faceted). Young people know what is going to help them get out of debt, find a reasonable paying job, maybe have a chance at buying a house, etc. and it's NOT knowing a foreign language -- unless they are specifically going into a field that requires this, i.e. international banking, etc."

[Edited at 2019-03-28 13:11 GMT]
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finnword1
United States
Local time: 22:27
English to Finnish
+ ...
Forced Swedish Mar 28, 2019

Finnish high school students are compelled to learn (and pass) Swedish, the second "official" language, although less than 5% of population (mostly older folks) speak it at home.

 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
Communication gaps Mar 28, 2019

 Welcome to the club--in Ukraine! Besides pursuing a course of consumer goods domestication and slashing foreign language courses (while making barriers to the higher education at large), at first they gradually introduced small changes to spelling/grammar/punctuation/phonetics, lowering the requirements and separating olds from news. Indeed, a porter who can say "Hello!" in 20+ languages is hardly a polyglot, let alone a teacher who must qualify the class averages.

 Little
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 Welcome to the club--in Ukraine! Besides pursuing a course of consumer goods domestication and slashing foreign language courses (while making barriers to the higher education at large), at first they gradually introduced small changes to spelling/grammar/punctuation/phonetics, lowering the requirements and separating olds from news. Indeed, a porter who can say "Hello!" in 20+ languages is hardly a polyglot, let alone a teacher who must qualify the class averages.

 Little wonder such tiny things are not so noticeable comparing to the corruption, poverty, illegality, depression, economic dislocation, and civil war "new" problems, yet it's pregnant with consequences.

 Fancy, most such "lawmakers" are foreigners who neither speak, nor really care about languages.

[Edited at 2019-03-29 21:37 GMT]
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The Misha
Local time: 22:27
Russian to English
+ ...
Why on earth would an employer want to pay you extra for speaking a foreign language Mar 28, 2019

Colleen Roach, PhD wrote:

Young people know what is going to help them get out of debt, find a reasonable paying job, maybe have a chance at buying a house, etc. and it's NOT knowing a foreign language -- unless they are specifically going into a field that requires this, i.e. international banking, etc."

[Edited at 2019-03-28 13:11 GMT]



... if it is not even needed for the job in question? On the other hand, you cannot even get a decent real estate job in, say, South Florida if you do not speak Spanish.


Michele Fauble
 

Colleen Roach, PhD  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:27
Member (2019)
French to English
+ ...
U.S. Situation Mar 29, 2019

The Misha wrote:

Colleen Roach, PhD wrote:

Young people know what is going to help them get out of debt, find a reasonable paying job, maybe have a chance at buying a house, etc. and it's NOT knowing a foreign language -- unless they are specifically going into a field that requires this, i.e. international banking, etc."

[Edited at 2019-03-28 13:11 GMT]



... if it is not even needed for the job in question? On the other hand, you cannot even get a decent real estate job in, say, South Florida if you do not speak Spanish.


I said in my post that the situation was: 1) complex; and 2) that I could only vouch for the U.S. context.

The U.S. is not Europe. Repeat: The U.S. is not Europe. Say it several times until you start to "get it." (I lived in Europe for 13 years but the rest of my fairly long life I've lived in the U.S.). In Europe, it is advantageous for people to be multi-lingual for a range of reasons: in Scandinavia, because not that many people speak one's native tongue; in other countries, it helps to know more than one language for reasons of trade, tourism, vacations. (In the U.S. most people no longer take vacations because they have no money; the middle class has virtually vanished in recent years; my observation of this was reinforced the other day, in an article in a well-known business publication that listed the 10 things most Americans can no longer afford; no. 1 was vacations.

You've heard of student debt in the U.S.? Bravo. You're not living in some "outpost' somewhere with no media access. You have an inkling of life in America nowadays, particularly for young people. Combine student debt with lack of career/professional jobs. I could cite tons of examples I've read about -- i.e. a young person graduates from a respectable college with a B.A., $70,000 in student loans due, and the most she can find is a part-time cashier job in a grocery store -- but I don't want to go off on this.

My point is: US employers are willing to pay precious little nowadays for ANYthing "extra." And they define the parameters of what is and isn't extra. In many cases, employers will not even pay for the requisite training in an entry-level job for a college grad; this, too, has been shifted onto the workforce to take extra courses after graduation.

We are constantly told that we live in an era of "globalization" -- so, if everyone believes this mantra, why WOULDN'T an employer want to pay extra for knowing another language? They don't and won't (not here, anyway) although they certainly would profit from this if they could. Students have been forced to "get smart" for survival reasons. They'll take courses in coding, etc. or whatever they've been told will help them in the job market.

The Spanish question is fairly political. But you are correct: in Florida, I'm sure knowing Spanish is a real advantage for a lot of jobs. It's been that way for some time and has accelerated in recent times. What has changed recently is this: a while ago if one saw an ad asking for a "bilingual" person (Spanish/English) it used to say "speak/read" both languages fluently. Now, the ads say: "speak/read & write" both languages.

[Edited at 2019-03-29 14:07 GMT]


dkfmmuc
Michal Fabian
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:27
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Money Mar 29, 2019

The purpose of learning a language is not so that you can earn a lot of money. It's much more than that. But in America, as some of the previous posts will testify, they only care about the $.

Teresa Borges
 


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Foreign language instruction slashed in American colleges

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