I started learning French in eighth grade. I was so excited to start learning another language because the option had never been presented to me before. I got a French name, Claire, and started to figure out the world of conjugating verbs and gender labels for nouns.
When I got to high school, I was hoping I would be able to continue my language education. However, they were only teaching French II to the students who had already taken French I. My plan was to take all of the French classes I could.
They cut the French program the following year.
I learned a lot of things from my high school French teacher that wasn't just about the language. She had been born and raised in France so she taught us about how different life is over there.
She told us that she started to learn Spanish in elementary school and English in middle school. She had to take both languages up until her graduation.
Since they cut the French program, she has been teaching Spanish instead.
We need to focus more on language in general. I have taken English all four years of high school, but only two years of those were focused on language – the other two were focused solely on literature.
While literature is important, we cannot study literature without having a strong background in the understanding of language.
I know some people who were born and raised in America who can barely speak English properly.
Americans think that they are the most important group of people in the world. When people move to our country, we force them to learn our language. When we travel to other countries, we force them to speak to us in our language.
We never take the time to appreciate or learn about other people’s cultures.
I feel like America has failed me. By not truly teaching me another language, America has set me up to crash and burn. I picked up French so quickly when I first learned it, but after not being in French class for three years, I have lost most of the language.
I am jealous of students in other countries. Really, I am. They are so lucky to have learned other languages starting at a young age.
It has been proven that the best time to teach a language is when a child is younger because their brains are more elastic and they learn more easily.
Why not start foreign language classes in Kindergarten?
Why not make our kids multilingual by the time they graduate high school?
I hope to one day become fluent in French and use it in my career. I want to travel the world and report on things happening in other countries.
I want to help America develop a more global perspective in a world that is rapidly going through globalization.
I will also be teaching my children other languages when they are young. I want my children to be able to read in two different languages before they start school.
Wake up, America. We’re not the only important country.