No More French (Mandarin Instead)

Some years ago, when Wes Groleau got me started with a blog, one of my first drafts carried the title, “What happens on these lists is…..” The current thread on No More French (Mandarin Instead) has exploded into fireworks about being open-minded and giving peace a chance. If Chinese becomes the new Spanish, I’m all for it. I just hate to see well-intentioned but ignorant admins and board members hastily and thoughtlessly putting in Chinese programs with no foundation. I made it clear that I’ve seen this happen before with both Japanese and Russian and the danger this presents to long-established programs. AGAIN, if Chinese edges out another language, so be it, no problem…….. do you get it? BUT, if we wind up with a monolingual language program, whether that be Spanish or Latin or Chinese, how does that help our students?

Chunmei Guan writes: “The final choice of which

language will sustain or become long-term is not decided only by

high-qualified teachers, schools, parents and students, but other

economical and political aspects. American students have their own

judgements about their future career choice.”

True, but the initial choice IS determined by administrative staff and school boards, and that choice can channel the choices the students have. Right now, if you ask most students what language they want to study, they say Italian. Who the hell knows why? I’m teaching my grandson Italian but I would think hard before introducing it into a school system. That’s just common sense. My concern is that the people deciding what language programs should be kept and which ejected simply go with flash rather than true demand. Once you replace a language like French, it takes years to develop a cadre of teachers b/c there are no jobs. And how many Americans are being trained in Chinese? I hope lots. And I hope there are jobs for them, b/c if not, then we will not have an American cadre but have to rely on teachers from outside the country. Or am I missing something here? Russian survived only b/c of the Cold War; where is it now? Every time I scan bookshelves in bookstores, I see tons, tons and tons, of books on Japanese, yet I know very few Americans who speak Japanese and those are usually LDS (Mormons). Tons and tons of books on Italian…….. why? Marketing? I do not know. But we cannot find out if when we try to discuss the issue, we get misunderstood.

Pat Barrett

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