Having read this ………
“If we were a bit more enlightened as a nation, we would never think of cutting successful foreign language programs for the sake of replacing them with programs designed to teach the languages some of us call “critical”…….
I would ask you to imagine the many movies you’ve seen where someone gets the job of turning a company or military unit around or of spearheading a task force to accomplish some great goal. They always come on very strong, making lots of demands for the best this and the best that. In some situations, they call for “linguists”, by which they mean anyone who can speak the language they need to achieve their goals. They give absolutely no thought to where these “linguists” might come from, they just want them. That sort of “demandingness” is seen as a trait of a leader.
Sadly for these leaders, most of the people in this country who speak another language do so only b/c they grew up speaking it in their family. For that reason, they have ties to another country, its religions, regions, ethnicities, and political factions; hardly the sort of people you want involved in national security issues or anywhere industrial espionage is an issue.
Yet these leaders are the very people who sagely tell us we can’t have foreign language programs b/c they serve no real need. What we need is science and math people who can solve engineering problems and medical people who can solve health problems. What the leaders majored in was, of course, law b/c they knew where the power lay.
The calls on listservs for more astute and savvy political action to save fl programs are worth a massive effort. I have a hard time, however, imagining that teachers who don’t want to join a union would engage in the hard ball politics necessary to get these pols to spring for a fl program. Maybe we can convince them that the terrorists get their instructions in the language we teach. Yes, indeed, most terrorists speak either French, Spanish, or German.