ENG108: Writing Project #4
22 April 2012
Why Foreign Language Should be a Core Subject in Public Elementary School The benefits of learning a foreign language go beyond learning a different culture or being able to communicate with people of different backgrounds. It is essential that Americans speak languages other than English in order to compete internationally, keep the country safe, and prepare children to be world citizens. Several language organizations, educators, and policy makers have recommended the introduction of a second language at the elementary school level as a way of assuring a high level of language proficiency (Pufahl and Rhodes 273). However, the reality of foreign language education in the United States is far from that goal. The Center for Applied Linguistics conducted a nationwide survey of public and private schools in 2008 and discovered that “since 1997, the percentage of elementary and middle schools that offer foreign language courses has fallen significantly, from 31 percent to 25 percent at the elementary level and from 75 percent to 58 percent at the middle school level” (Pufahl and Rhodes 261). One of the reasons for the decline could be attributed to the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 signed by President George W. Bush. The NCLB act is a framework aimed at improving the performance of America's elementary and secondary schools, with a stronger emphasis on reading. About one third of all public schools with foreign language programs reported being affected by NCLB (Pufahl and Rhodes 270). Educators and politicians see the need for improving students’ achievement in reading and math and for a better score on standardized tests (Stewart 11). For that reason schools are under pressure to allocate time and resources to math and English-language arts instruction. Educators and school administrators are left with no budget, resources or time to use for foreign language education (Pufahl...