More than 1 language is useful - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Letters To The Editor

More than 1 language is useful

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Posted: Saturday, December 4, 2010 11:30 am

Dear Editor:

Should everyone in this country speak English? Absolutely. Not knowing the language of the country in which you live shuts the door to understanding, creating fear. It limits a person's world to only those who can speak their language, keeping them from meeting and understanding the people who live around them and participating in society.

Should Americans learn to speak other languages? Absolutely. It allows us to see the world differently, opening our minds to other possibilities, new ways of seeing things. Comparing and contrasting another language and culture with our own allows us to see ourselves from another point of view. It heightens our patriotism, helping us to appreciate our own culture. It makes us more flexible thinkers. In learning other languages the brain operates in reasoning and problem solving modes, which are higher level thinking skills. Numerous studies link the number of years of language study with significantly increased vocabulary, reading and writing skills.

A recent AFN letter to the editor asked, why "just Spanish" is being offered in Kyrene's new dual language program. Spanish is a logical option, both politically and from a business point of view, with 20 countries geographically near with Spanish the official language of their country. Arizona public school funding is 50th in the nation and schools are struggling to offer any language options. In a perfect world students would be offered a variety of languages. This is not a perfect world.

Why start at an early age? Studies show that it takes about seven years of formal studies to approach fluency. The typical two years in high school isn't enough. Adult learners often cannot put in the time and practice that language learning requires for proficiency. Young students have time, energy and enthusiasm, the perfect mix.

Lori Vanover

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