[EDLING:191] Re: L2 in US Schools

Nat Bartels nbartels at CC.USU.EDU
Thu May 13 18:43:27 UTC 2004

"Maureen T. Matarese" wrote:

> Well, although we don't have these expectations in the foreign
> language classroom--the question is why (as B. Spolsky mentioned as
> well on the listserv).   Why is it seemingly unimportant for a country
> that has so many immigrant populations to be fluent in those other
> languages?

Well, I think one big difference is simply the size of the country. In
Germany (and many other countries), you drive for more than 4 hours in
any direction and you are in another country which speaks a different
language; people do business with other countries routinely and vacation
there in tourist traps which attract a wide range of nationalities. For
people in this situation, learning an L2 is a tangible, concrete need
that they have. Learning an L2 is simply too abstract for most
Americans; like the line from Steve Martin: "I was just in France the
other week and you know what? They have a different word for
everything!" Even with the increase in Spanish speakers in the past
decades, my impression is that most Americans simply do not understand
that speaking Spanish or Chinese as an L1 is just as normal for other
people as speaking English is for them.



Nat Bartels
Instructor of Foreign Language Education
Dept. of Languages and Philosophy
Co-Director, Masters of Second Language Teaching Program
Utah State University
0720 Old Main Hill
Logan, Utah 84322-0720
nbartels at cc.usu.edu
Phone: (+1)(435) 797-8211
Fax: (+1)(435) 797-1329

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