Hola, ni hao, marhaban, bonjour and hello. Most people wish they knew how to speak another language. The reasons are plenty: more job opportunities, increased awareness of other cultures, foreign travel is easier and more enjoyable, better at multi-tasking, more people to converse with and much more. Yet, only 25% of Americans are fluent in another language – that means that 75% of Americans are monolingual. Our schools are not preparing our children for a competitive world market.
Almost every country in Europe requires students as young as six to learn a foreign language. Our students are given the opportunity to study a world language only until they reach high school (and it’s not even required to graduate). By this time they are already way behind. Scientists say that in order to speak a language as well as a native speaker, children must begin to study the language by age 10.
Compared to other developed countries, the U.S. already lags behind in math and science (38th and 24th ranking, respectively). Still, we shouldn’t rank last in foreign language education. Yes, English is one of the most important world languages for international communication, but other languages are becoming more and more essential. In Chino and Chino Hills, there are a variety of languages spoken, especially Spanish and Chinese.
Our public schools have the obligation to successfully prepare our children for the future. Therefore, in 2020, California should take the initiative in requiring all students in public schools to begin studying a foreign language by elementary school. Chino Valley Unified School District can take the first steps by discussing this important matter at one of their upcoming board meetings.
For now – adios, zaijian, maasalama, au revoir.
Adrian Fernandez, Chino Hills