[EDLING:181] L2 in US Schools

Wed May 12 21:54:46 UTC 2004

Hey everyone,

I just wanted to drop a line and give you the "inside scoop" on the L2
programs in US high schools.  I'm only a junior in high school, but I noticed
something scary about how the schools here teach foreign languages after I compared
my Spanish skills to my German exchange student's English skills.  We've both
been on similar tracks, and we've both studied our L2 for five years; however,
his English was much better than my Spanish (as an amateur linguist, I threw
out this whole business about English being the 'most important language'
now).  So, I talked to him about his classes.  He told me that they were geared
much more towards overall fluency, with added stress primarily on speaking.
Compared to the L2 programs (with the exception of ESL) of high schools that I've
studied, his school's English program seemed like a blessing to anyone
wishing to pick up another language.  As for my conclusion about schools, here it
is:  The second language programs of US grammar and high schools, public and
private, are in terrible condition.  Instead of focusing on fluency and
instruction in the target language, programs have chosen to emphasize test-taking
skills, primarily those in regard to the SAT II and various college exams.

If anyone else has noticed this or a similar trend, please explain the
situation and possible causes.


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