This week (March 7–13) is National Foreign Language Week. What does that mean? It means that it is time to celebrate foreign languages! It was an event created by Alpha Mu Gamma in the spring of 1957 to help make the United States aware of how important it is to study foreign languages.
Why is it important?
“Isn’t monolinguism the illiteracy of the 21st century?” asked Gregg Roberts, a World Languages and Dual Immersion Specialist, at the National Chinese Language Conference. With the shrinking world, due to easy modes of transportation, the global market and international business, knowing more languages than English is not only helpful, but necessary. The number of people who speak a language other than English at home increased 158.2 percent between 1980 and 2010, while population that spoke only English at home has increased only 22.7 percent in that same time according the the US census.
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Last year in high schools across the United States, the Pledge of Allegiance was broadcast in many languages throughout the week. Unfortunately, at Pine Bush High School in New York, students lashed out when it was recited in Arabic. While students claimed that “English is America’s only language,” there is no federal document that names English the national language of America. Additionally, as Steve M. says on No More Mister Nice Blog.
Still, why is it so anti-American to have the pledge recited in a foreign language? As it is exists now, the pledge is an oath of loyalty to America. In any other language, it's still an oath of loyalty to America.
Learning other languages is a good thing, and we should encourage it! According to a study on bilingual children
Well-designed and carefully implemented bilingual education programs can have a significant positive effect on student achievement both in English literacy and in other academic core courses when compared to English immersion.
How can I celebrate language learning?
1. Duolingo is a free website where you can learn up to 27 different languages through a Rosetta Stone like process.
2. Have dinner at a restaurant with foreign food or cook food from another culture.
3. Attend a festival like this one in Louisiana.
4. Look for events near you. You never know when they might have a foreign film festival or a global beer fest.
Henderson State University, the week after National Foreign Language Week, will be hosting at least two events: Around the World in 80 Seconds and the International Food Bazaar.
Around the World in 80 Seconds is an open forum on the Quad put on by Alpha Mu Gamma that will allow community members to speak about another language they speak, a country in which they have lived or a country that they have visited, for 80 seconds each. Each speech will be short and to the point. It will be a great opportunity to learn about the world. The date is March 15 at 12:15 p.m.
The International Food Bazaar is an event put on by Henderson’s International Student Association (HISA). They ask community members to create a dish from their country or to create a dish from another country. They sell tickets and people can come to taste all of the food and to see singing and dancing. Information can be found by clicking here.
Coursera has free classes in Chinese and Korean.
Travel! Book a plane ticket to that place you've always wanted to go.