Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Foreign Language and Immersion

I'll gladly stipulate that learning foreign languages is necessary for American youngsters these days. The Washington Post reports on the trend for ever-earlier exposure to foreign languages in the Washington, D.C. area schools. Here are a couple of snips, emphasis added by me:

[K]indergartners at Fairfax County's Graham Road Elementary School, one of seven county elementary schools that reopen early in August, sang an alphabet song, learned how to stand in line -- and started Spanish lessons.

The 30-minute lesson, taught solely in Spanish....

Beginning this school year in the District, Shepherd Elementary School in Northwest Washington is planning to offer a pre-kindergarten French immersion program -- with some lessons in French and others in English -- and Thomson Elementary in Northeast is launching a Mandarin immersion class. Arlington County schools are adding a Spanish pilot program at two elementary schools.

On the one hand, this is wonderful. Anyone who has ever tried to learn a foreign language will tell you that immersion is the way to go. I learned more German in a couple of months in Berlin than I could have learnt from six years of college classes.

On the other hand, we still have a serious problem when it comes to teaching English to children of immigrants to America. Especially for Hispanics, we seem to insist that immersion is not the way to go. Somehow, we think Mexicans are too stupid to handle English immersion programs. And this view is holding many immigrant families back from achieving their potential, and doubtless results in a higher percentage of them becoming reliant on welfare programs.

Waitaminnit, maybe that's the plan. Our nation's bureaucrats need to expand their welfare recipient population, because Americans are less and less willing to do what it takes to get a welfare check. Right.



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