News

    Language Classes Popular in America's Public Schools

    As a nation of immigrants, American society is a polyglot. The diversity of spoken languages can be heard clearly in the nation's schools. Students often come from different national and cultural backgrounds. Learning a new language is a way of bridging those differences. Kent Gardens Elementary School, located in the northern Virginia suburbs outside Washington, D.C., is one of hundreds of American public schools now offering special foreign-language training programs. Mohamed Elshinnawi has a report.

    More than 900 young students arrive at Kent Gardens Elementary every morning to take part in a system-wide language training program known as partial immersion. Its aim is to help students become fluent in a foreign language of their choice. In this particular school, French is the language being offered.

    "Half of the day is spent with a French immersion teacher, where they learn math and science in French and the other part of the day is spent with the English teacher where they are taught social studies and language arts in English," says Annie Dwyer, a 5th grade French teacher.

    Students not only receive instruction in the French language but are also exposed to the cultures of French-speaking countries. They interact with teacher-interns from France. Some students host the French interns in their homes, establishing personal cultural links.

    Students at Kent Gardens Elementary come from many different cultural backgrounds, and they give many different reasons for wanting to be fluent in a foreign language.

    "I am actually Muslim," says Rosa Ahmat, "so my parents want me to learn about other cultures and people from other places."

    Anwar Mendes says he expects to travel a lot in the future. "So I will have a pretty good chance of meeting a person that speaks French."

    "It will be very hard to get a good job if you do not know the other languages," says Neha Rana.

    Many educators support that belief. They say immersing young students in foreign language study for at least half of their school day gives them the mult-lingual skills they'll need to succeed in an increasingly global economy.

    There are other benefits as well. "It expands the mind of the child and also gives them a greater cultural awareness of other cultures and makes them more tolerant of others' differences," says 6th grade French teacher Christine Bedoret.

    Some critics of immersion programs believe that spending half the school day learning in a foreign language could negatively impact students' fluency in English. Richard Gordon, a 6-grade English and social studies teacher, disagrees. "One thing I noticed when I teach my students coming from the foreign language program is that they are very oral, they are very vocal, and they can express themselves very well in my English classes."

    But French teachers like Francoise Brottet admits there are challenges involved in the immersion program. "Since they do not understand everything (we say), we have to find creative and different ways to teach them."

    Young students have their own challenges. "It can be a bit confusing at times, because you learn the terms in French and sometimes some tests and homework you get are written in English," says 6th grader Kimia Zadegan.

    Over the past decade, hundreds of American public schools have begun offering partial immersion programs to teach students Latin, Spanish, German, Japanese and many other languages.

    Dr. Robyn Hooker, Kent Gardens' Principal, says that many of the students at the school are already multi-lingual, as well as multi-cultural, when they enroll. "Many of the children in our school, because it is an international school, come to us speaking perhaps two or three and in some instances four languages, so it becomes a part of our responsibility to prepare children for global society — and that always includes the languages."

    Hooker believes the training students are receiving at Kent Gardens — and in similar language immersion schools across the country — will help them to communicate more effectively not just in their own American polyglot, but in the 21st century's increasingly global village.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora