Thursday, April 8, 2010

Add Value with Foreign-Language Component

This post was written by Vicky Hsiang, who is student at the University of Washington Intensive Business English Program. She has the equivalent of a Bachelor's degree in Spanish from her native Taiwan, and is interning with us during Spring Quarter.

Nowadays, cultures are more and more globally connected, but the U.S. is somehow falling behind, especially in education.

According to an editorial in The Seattle Times (April 7, 2010), Seattle Public Schools have language-immersion programs to help solve this education problem. In these programs, students are taught 50 percent of the time in English, and the rest of the time in a foreign language. The test results show that students who are in these programs have higher scores overall than those who are taught in English only.

Educators also point out that students in elementary school can learn foreign languages more easily than others. In Seattle, nearly 50 percent of elementary students are eligible for bilingual education. Seattle’s language-immersion programs are very successful, and they could help improve the quality of education in the U.S.

From my experience, in Asian countries, all the students must study their native language and English in elementary school. For example, in Taiwan, our government made English one of the main subjects in elementary school 12 years ago. Nowadays, trilingualism is more and more common among the younger generation.

In school we study English at least 10 hours per week, which is why most students have high scores. However, in Asian countries there is an interesting phenomenon: those students are only good at reading, listening and grammar, not conversation. They know a lot of English vocabulary, but they cannot speak it. The main reason is the high student-teacher ratio; there are more than 35 students in one class, so students really don’t have a chance to speak during the class. Moreover, students tend to be quiet during the class out of respect for the teacher. It is hard to encourage students to speak. Some educators discovered this problem, so now there are many ways to study in the U.S. or other countries.

In the future, we’ll have even more opportunities to go to other countries. Even if you don’t travel, you can still meet people from other countries and exchange ideas with them. Communication is very important, not only in our native language but also in other languages. When you talk to people from other countries in their native language, they will feel you are very friendly and eager to know their culture.

If you would like to reference the editorial, click here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.