Photo by: Veronica Townsend
JCHS needs more language classes
November 8, 2016
š siaubinga ne lietuvių, 내 한국어, 끔찍, и я забыл большинство моих русских. If that last sentence was complete gibberish to you, congratulations. You don’t know Lithuanian, Korean, or Russian.
In reality, that’s not really something to be excited about, but what can you do? Attending a school that teaches one Germanic language and three Romance languages (one of which is dead) doesn’t really give you many opportunities to explore the western-Eurocentric vortex that is the language program. As wonderful as it would be to learn ASL (American Sign Language), Japanese, and a number of other languages, the only chance any of us will have the opportunity is with online programs like Duolingo or with private lessons. Not only is it hard to find qualified teachers, but there’s also an issue of interest. How much do students really want to learn languages like Hindi or Russian? Red and Black surveyed about 221 total results from JCHS students to get their insight on languages.
89% of students asked said that they would be willing to take another language class if it were offered. 31% wanted to take ASL, 14% preferred Russian, 11% requested Japanese, and another 11% wanted Mandarin Chinese. Several other languages, such as Arabic or Italian, also held high interest. Overall, it’s pretty clear that people would want to take classes if given the opportunity, so interest shouldn’t be an issue.
Not only would more languages be interesting, but they’d also serve an important purpose.
“To understand a culture, you have to have at least a basic understanding of its language,” sophomore Ace Uhlmann said. “We need to understand cultures that are different from ours.”
Most European countries are not that different. An aspiring linguist, Uhlmann is learning eight languages outside of the classroom, and Japanese is the only language in which they’re taking formal classes.
Of course, finding teachers might be hard, but the goal of language classes could probably be achieved online just as well, like we’re already seeing with E2020. If this was made an option, there really wouldn’t be an issue at all, except for what language to add first.