[EDLING:189] Re: L2 in US Schools

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at CCAT.SAS.UPENN.EDU
Thu May 13 17:38:49 UTC 2004

I think Leo VanLier identifies some of the issues that are crucial here.
American linguistic culture just doesn't have the expectations and values
about "foreign" language learning that others, do.

He says:  d) as part of a successful education, everyone was expected to
succeed in language classes. [and] If there is one ingredient that stands
out in my mind it is EXPECTATIONS. It was simply expected that an educated
person spoke the three foreign languages....

American linguistic culture doesn't have these expectations, and
constantly denigrates them.  Did people notice what happened a while back
when a reporter at a press conference held by GWB asked the French
ambassador (foreign minister, whatever)  a question in French?  GWB went
ballistic, chewed out the reporter, castigated him, mocked him, ridiculed
him.  Sure taught him a lesson!

So much for the value of language learning, and using it appropriately.

H. Schiffman

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