Elementary students should concentrate on learning the complexities of the English language before seriously learning a foreign language. In our multicultural society, we have situations in which Hispanics, Asians, and other immigrants have taught their children the native tongue of their heritage. But all children in America are taught English and recognize it as the major number one international language. Many children endowed with a foreign background are acclimated into the American system, and often time, don’t find the opportunity to use any foreign language skills.
Elementary schools could familiarize children with an introduction to foreign language. Kids could learn something about popular French phrases. For example, calling someone or something beautiful in French is “belle.” They could learn a few basic phrases of how to say hello or goodbye in German, “Guten Tag” for hello, and “Auf Wiedersehen” for goodbye. They can possibly familiarize themselves with the foreign names of famous geographical attractions such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa or The Great Wall of China. There is nothing wrong with them getting their feet wet when it comes to learning about the wonders of the world. Kids could have great fun learning the meaning of foreign words. But unless they devoted a significant amount of time learning a foreign language, I don’t think they would remember too much of what they were taught.
In general, Elementary schools shouldn’t offer complete foreign language studies to students at such an early age. Young kids are disadvantaged because they aren’t extremely knowledgeable about their own English language, and it makes it difficult for them to learn another one. Given time and experience, students learn that their own English language is a valuable model in which they can compare and contrast a foreign language study of their choice. For the exception of special overachievers, how can America’s elementary kids successfully learn a foreign language when they’re barely beginning to understand English usage? Elementary students are handicapped because their foreign language understanding is weakened by a limited vocabulary.
American schools are often criticized because their students academic achievement level is below the standard of students in other foreign countries. Our U.S. Education achievement levels are considered average in comparison to other competitive countries. The Third International Mathematics and Science Study is an organization that bases their study on testing “half a million students in 41 countries.” They blame weak math and science programs for the poor performance of elementary, middle, and high school students. It doesn’t have anything to do with the foreign tongue they speak.
Elementary school kids are only beginning their education, but it is important that they focus their concentration on subjects such as English, math, history, and science. Foreign language studies should not burden young minds. Teachers will attempt to prepare young students to learn valuable subjects that will enable them to pass difficult SAT scores in high school and pursue higher education. It is doubtful foreign language criteria will become a necessary part of student testing.