World Languages

Welcome to the exciting world of languages!

Bienvenue! Bienvenidos! Your child can start the important study of other languages and cultures at Immaculate Conception Regional School as early as kindergarten!

Why study another language? Isn’t English universal in the world?

Having just returned from six weeks in France, Spain, and the Czech Republic on 31 August 2011, I can re-state with confidence that great strides are being made in Europe in the teaching of other languages. However, not everyone on the street when you are looking for a bus understands your American English. It can be difficult in North America also, if you take New York City and Los Angeles, Mexico, and Quebec, as examples.

Learning a new language stimulates the young brain.

It does not confuse the mind. As a matter of fact, it is far easier for a child to learn a new language than for someone “over the hill” – which is considered age twelve! (It it not impossible for an adolescent or an adult to develop good skills in speaking, pronouncing, reading, listening, writing French, Spanish, or other languages. It is simply that our heads are harder! We acquire things, but they take a little longer to stick in our memories and our habits.) Young children learn languages through games, projects, and songs that older ones might consider too baby-ish.

Is there anything career-wise that a person with language skills can anticipate?

Naturally, an employer or supervisor will be grateful to have a language skill on the job, whether the work is manual or intellectual. Being able to intelligently guess the content of communications from other countries, speaking slowly to the foreign visitor on site so that body language can fill in where vocabulary is lacking, and an openness to “the other” are vital for business and educational institutions. If you develop skills in Spanish or French, you will be more sympathetic to the person arriving from another culture, in need of support and encouragement.

 

Is there anything available after school?

In 2016 – 2017, here is what is scheduled for $75 per semester.  Parents may observe the class in which their child is enrolled as often as they wish at no charge.

From 3 – 4 pm on Mondays, French for beginners is offered.

From 3 – 4 pm on Tuesdays, an intermediate French class is taught.

From 3 – 4 pm on Wednesdays, Spanish is available.

Who is the teacher?

With a master’s degree in teaching world languages, Mrs. Susan Redd taught for over thirty years at Mount Vernon High School. She is retired and working part-time at two schools now. Her travels and study include summer sessions for teachers at universities in Quimper, Angers, Lyon, Strasbourg, and Paris, as well as a year studying at the Universite de Caen and a year teaching at the Lycee Recamier in Lyon, France. She has made four trips to Spain, including the Universidad de Salamanca, and has studied in Mexico for five summers. Her research focus is presently on World War II and the Holocaust / Shoah, as well as the Spanish Civil War and Franco. She has attended intensive week-long seminars for teachers in Warsaw, Lublin (August 2007) , Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Krakow (October 2009) in Poland; in Modena, Italy (October 2010); and in Terezin / Theresienstadt (August 2011) in the Czech Republic. She is a past president of the Washington Association for Teachers of Languages (WAFLT); the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF) Washington Chapter; the Pacific Northwest Council for Languages (PNCFL) for nine states and two provinces.

How can you reach the teacher?

You can reach Mrs. Redd using her contact page.

How do I know if my child is ready for a world language class?

If your child plays well with others, s/he is ready!

Why learn languages?

10 good reasons why you should be learning a foreign language

Everyone speaks English, right? Well, certainly not everyone speaks English. According to the CIA World Fact Book, only 5.6 % of the world’s total population speaks English as a primary language. That number doubles when people who speak English as a second or third language are counted. By conservative estimates, that means that well over four-fifths of the world’s population does not speak English.

1. To increase global understanding

As globalization and mobility and communications are bring the world ever closer together, ever more urgent is the need for global citizens to be competent in other languages. The United States is the only industrialized country that routinely graduates students from high school who lack knowledge of a foreign language. Whereas 52.7% of Europeans are fluent in both their native tongue and at least one other language, only 9.3% of Americans are fluent in both their native tongue and another language. This statistic does not bode well for the future of America in a global society. The upward trend in language learning must accelerate if the U.S. is to continue to be a major participant on the international stage.

2. To improve employment potential

If businesses are to effectively compete in a global economy, they must learn to deal with other cultures on their own terms. Companies that plan to do business abroad therefore have a dire need for bilingual or multilingual employees. Businesses that intend to compete internationally need employees who can competently communicate in the locales where they do business. Employees who speak one language can communicate only with people who speak that same language.

Business is not the only area of employment where language competencies are needed, however. Multiple government agencies, the travel industry, engineering, communications, the field of education, international law, economics, public policy, publishing, advertising, entertainment, scientific research, and an broad array of service sectors all have needs for people with foreign language skills.

3. To increase native language ability

Research shows that knowledge of other languages boosts students’ understanding of languages in general and enables students to use their native language more effectively. This applies to specific language skills as well as overall linguistic abilities. Foreign language learners have stronger vocabulary skills in English, a better understanding of the language, and improved literacy in general. Higher reading achievement in the native language as well as enhanced listening skills and memory have been shown to correlate with extended foreign language study.

These results are apparent in several studies as well as in test scores. With each additional year of foreign language instruction taken, a student’s scores on college and graduate school entrance exams such as the SATs, ACTs, GREs, MCATs, and LSATs improve incrementally.

4. To sharpen cognitive and life skills

Because learning a language involves a variety of learning skills, studying a foreign language can enhance one’s ability to learn and function in several other areas. Children who have studied a language at the elementary level score higher on tests in reading, language arts, and math. People who have learned foreign languages show greater cognitive development in areas such as mental flexibility, creativity, and higher order thinking skills, such as problem-solving, conceptualizing, and reasoning.

In addition to cognitive benefits, the study of foreign languages leads to the acquisition of some important life skills. Because language learners learn to deal with unfamiliar cultural ideas, they are much better equipped to adapt and cope in a fast-changing world. They also learn to effectively handle new situations. In addition, the encounter with cultures different from one’s own leads to tolerance of diverse lifestyles and customs. And it improves the learner’s ability to understand and communicate with people from different walks of life.

5. To improve chances of entry into college or graduate school

Today, most colleges and universities require a minimum of two years of high school foreign language instruction for admission. And once enrolled in an undergraduate program, students are likely to find that their college or university prescribes foreign language courses as requirement for the degree. The majority of universities rightly consider knowledge of a foreign language and culture part of what every educated person should know. Many majors in the arts and humanities, in natural sciences and behavioral and social sciences, and in professional fields, also require the study of one or more languages to ensure success in the given field.

For those planning to continue on to graduate study in most any field, knowledge of a second and sometimes even a third language is often a prerequisite for admission. From mathematics to anthropology, from biology to art history, you will find that many if not most graduate programs require some kind of foreign language knowledge of their applicants. In some programs, graduate students are required to gain a reading knowledge of other languages as a degree requirement, especially in doctoral programs. This is because important research is often published in non-English language books and professional journals.

6. To appreciate international literature, music, and film

Most of the world’s literary and artistic works have been written in languages other than English. A translation of a text can never be fully true to the intent, beauty, style, and uniqueness of its original. A translation is always to a large degree subject to the interpretation of the translator, not least because some elements of languages simply don’t have translations in other languages. Word plays, metaphors, innuendoes, cultural references and culturally loaded vocabulary words, and formulations unique to the original language often get lost in translation. To be able to fully appreciate literature, theater, music, and film in other languages, one must be able to access them in their original form.

7. To make travel more feasible and enjoyable

Though it’s possible to travel to foreign countries without speaking the native language, your experience will be largely shaped by your ability or inability to see beyond the surface of the culture. When you lack the ability to communicate in the native language, you can not fully participate in day-to-day life, understand the culture, or communicate with the people. The language barrier can be anywhere from frustrating to downright dangerous.

When you know the language, you have the comfort of being able to successfully navigate all sorts of situations, like order meals in restaurants, ask for and understand directions, find accommodations and perhaps negotiate cheaper prices, and meet and talk with natives, to name only a few. In most countries, people will appreciate attempts to use their language. You will be able to communicate more completely and have a deeper, more satisfying travel experience.

8. To expand study abroad options

Simply your willingness to learn a language can make you an apt candidate for many study abroad programs. Some foreign programs require no prior language experience and offer an intensive immersion experience prior to the selected program of study. Other programs require only a few semesters of prior language instruction. Whatever program you choose, continued language study while in the foreign country is typical.

The benefit is that students can leave the language classroom and immediately put into practice what they have learned in class. Because students can focus on their language development while learning about the culture, their daily experiences and courses complement one another, leading to comparable or even better grades than at the home institution, where students often take a myriad of courses that have little or no connection.

9. To increase understanding of oneself and one’s own culture

Knowing another language and culture affords you the unique opportunity of seeing yourself and your own culture from an outside perspective. There are aspects of your language, yourself, your life, and your own culture that you accept as absolute and universal or that you have never even considered until you encounter a culture and people who do things in a much different way than you’re used to. Contact with other languages and cultures gives you the unique opportunity to step outside your familiar scope of existence and view your culture’s customs, traditions, and norms as well as your own value system through the eyes of others. Conversely, a monolingual, monocultural view of the world severely limits your perspective. Intercultural experiences have a monumental influence on shaping your identity, heightening your self-awareness, and giving you a full appreciation of your life situation. These things can happen only with knowledge of cultures and languages other than your own.

10. To make lifelong friends

Knowing other languages effectively increases the number of people on the globe with whom you can communicate. And people who speak other languages fully appreciate the effort and desire learners expend to get to know their culture and to communicate with them. Whether through meeting foreign exchange students on your campus or local immigrants in your community, whether getting to know natives or international students while studying abroad, or whether establishing a connection with a pen pal in another country, your ability to speak other languages and your interest in other cultures can connect you deeply with people around the globe.