American School Systems Need to Teach Languages Earlier


Alyson Bass, Reporter

For a lot of developed countries learning English isn’t even a question. Students start at a young age learning English so that by the time they are ready to go off on their own they can fluently speak it. In America however, learning another language and being able to speak it fluently is rarely seen.

At DeForest Area High School, up until four years ago, most students didn’t start learning a new language until the eighth grade. This time period would only give you five years to learn a language IF the student decides to stick with it all those years. Now they get an extra year of learning a new language, so students now can start in seventh grade, but again, IF they decide to stick with it. 

According to an article titled, “Why There’s A Language Gap In The United States”, posted by WBUR states that, “At the K-12 level [in America] we have approximately 20 percent of students enrolled in language courses, and when you get to postsecondary level, that drops to 8.1 percent.” This means by college only 8.1 percent of students who have taken a language is still taking it after high school. Maybe for other countries, if they had these statistics it would be fine because they start learning languages at a young age, which is required to be enrolled in the language for all of middle and high school, but for America these statistics are pitiful. Another statement from Here and Now says, “60 million Americans speak a language other than English at home. But more than 231 million speak only English at home, and don’t know another language well enough to communicate in it.” 

We claim to be one of the most diverse countries, yet so many Americans fail to know any language other than English. It’s not even that students don’t want to learn a new language. Most of the time schools just don’t put in the resources to make languages available for students until way later down the road. If we start making languages a priority in America more students could have more opportunities for jobs in different countries even or if they want to take a vacation, they could meet more people by knowing the native language. This way we become an even more diverse and welcoming country.