Recently I wrote a letter to my local newspaper, the North Providence Valley Breeze, in response to an article about the lack of funds for foreign language classes in the local middle schools. Considering how important is the knowledge of a foreign language (or two) in today’s society, the headline immediately drew my attention and warranted my response to express my dismay. Below is the beginning of the letter.
As a current study abroad student, I was disappointed to read the April 6 article, “NP schools lack money to improve language classes.” Currently, I am studying in Florence, Italy, and during my time overseas I have come to realize just how important it is for students to study another language in their youth.
While I have greatly increased my learning skills while living abroad for the semester, I wish I had been more prepared before my arrival. As a former student in the North Providence public school system, I can barely remember my middle school language classes. I do remember that students were required to take Foreign Language as an elective, but there was no choice as to which language. As the article points out, students divide their three years at the middle school learning either Spanish or Italian. Though it seems money inhibits such potential, it would be more advantageous to allow students to select which language to study so that they could have a more solid understanding before entering high school. Although I took three years of Italian at the high school, limited interest in the language by other students did not allow me to continue onto a fourth year. As a result, I lost a year of learning, and thus felt as if I was starting from the beginning when I enrolled in Italian during my first college semester.
The letter can be read in its entirety here.