[EDLING:192] Re: L2 in US Schools
Maureen T. Matarese
maureenmatarese at YAHOO.COM
Thu May 13 19:11:29 UTC 2004
Good point. I suppose that as the number of people who speak languages other than English grow--these expectations may change--just as they are here in New York.
Nat Bartels <nbartels at cc.usu.edu> wrote:"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.
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