Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Second Language

The Fischbowl recently had a link to this article: Rensselaer to Require All Engineering Students to Study Abroad. It has an interesting discussion about engineers needing a second language because "their eventual careers may require them to collaborate with international clients or co-workers".

I told a teacher I was interested in a science career when I was around 12, he recommend I take German as a second language because so much research was coming out of Germany. Another teacher in high school suggested Russian might be useful to someone going into science for the same reasons. I wonder what language I might recommend to a student today asking me the same question? Chinese? Japanese?

In the late 90's I had a principal who looked into setting up a Chinese language class at the middle school where I was teaching. She was unable to find a teacher who fit our needs at the time so it never came to pass, but she was already thinking ahead of the curve. I know that in a lot of schools, World Languages have taken a back seat to kids trying to meet all their academic requisites. Is it time to re-think our school policies towards a World Language? Should it be an elective or required? Do we need to look beyond the traditional German, French and Spanish?

[Image: Chinese word for luck captured from http://www.chinapage.com/word/chineseword.html]

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