If you are a parent, driving your child and her friends around can be an educational experience. Turn down the radio and listen.
My daughter and her friend started chatting about a variety of school related things. One thing really stood out in their conversation.
Both have been in foreign language programs since they were 3 years old. They both took Spanish from 3 through middle school – over 10 years of language related experience. And yet neither one of them are fluent in Spanish.
They went back and forth talking about their insight on why they aren’t fluent.
Every year they start over at ground zero – with a basic book in Spanish. They learn a few phrases, a few nouns, and that’s about it. They don’t even receive instruction in conversational Spanish – just an overview, or what I like to call Sesame Street Spanish. And they both stated how bored they were with the whole process, and how they regret that they don’t have more language skills today as a result of all that training.
Why don’t we teach conversational Spanish instead, and teach at different levels all the way through? When you build a school program, you assume a child moves from K through 12 within your school district, and you feed in new kids at the appropriate levels. Why not use that as a way to give students the global skills they will need moving forward?
Language skills are the most important thing we use in today’s society – with videos and online communication, it will be even more so in the future. Statistics show young children are sponges, and can easily pick up languages, even accents and pronunciation more so than older children and adults. Wouldn’t this be a great benefit in our future?