[EDLING:182] Re: L2 in US Schools

Courtney Garron cfgarron at UREACH.COM
Wed May 12 23:51:20 UTC 2004

Hi Chris,

I imagine that you'll have a lot of responses to your inquiry.
Your perception and concern are astute and impressive.  As you
know, so many Americans are only concerned with ENGLISH.  Plenty
of people, including some native-Spanish speakers, are part of
the growing English-Only movement in this country.  It's scary
what other cultures and heritages some people are willing to
squelch in order to maintain their power.
Check out this website: http://www.us-english.org/

What does this have to do with L2 education in the country?
The most important aspect to consider in your questioning of why
things are the way they are.  Who is in power and who has a
vested interest in maintaining the status quo?  In this case,
it's monolingual English speakers who are the power-holders,
business leaders, politicians, etc. in the US (and therefore the
world).  Bilingualism scares these people.  They see it as a
deficiency instead of the tremendous advantage it is.  These
days, the powers that be believe that we only really need
another language to communicate with the laborers who don't
speak English.

It's complicated, but I believe that your question is directly
related to the power structure in this country.  Good luck in
your quest for information.  And thanks for writing.

Bilingual Bicultural Education MA student, DePaul University

---- On Wed, 12 May 2004, Forty8STITCHES at aol.com
(Forty8STITCHES at aol.com) wrote:

> 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.
> Thanks,
> --Chris

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