Maggie: Ok, so the rest of the show is pretty much all about you! In our You Tell It segment, students like you do the reporting.
Today, Channel One intern Chelsey D’Adesky takes us inside the classroom to find out just how important learning a second, or third, language really is.
Students: Hello, we study French.
Students: Hello, we study Italian.
Student: Hello, my name is Jake. I study Chinese.
Chelsey: Like most students, the ones at Jericho High School have to take a foreign language. Jake Blumencranz is studying Mandarin, the main language spoken in China.
Jake Blumencranz: It’s just becoming more of a closed world, and it’s better to know more than one language than to know just one.
Chelsey: In today’s global economy, students are competing for jobs with others from around the world, and knowing a second language can provide a leg up on the competition.
Dr. Elaine Margaritas: The world is becoming a smaller place, and knowing languages gives you the opportunity to communicate better, to negotiate better.
Chelsey: Dr. Margaritas is in charge of the World Language Program in Jericho School District. She says Americans are falling behind their global peers when it comes to communication.
Dr. Margaritas: There’s a joke that says, ‘If you speak three languages, you’re trilingual; if you speak two languages, you’re bilingual; if you speak one language, you’re American.’
Chelsey: Currently only 10% of Americans can speak a second language. Compare that with Europe, where more than half its population can speak multiple languages.
Most industrialized countries begin learning a second language in elementary school. Although here in the U.S., many students don’t begin learning a world language until their freshman year in high school. And to make matters worse, nationwide budget cuts are shrinking foreign language programs.
Dr. Margaritas: We’ve had to do some cutting here. In New York State, the 2% tax cap has affected many school districts, many programs.
Student: Ni hao.
Jake: I think it’s vital to keep language programs over other subjects. They target a different part of, like, your thought process and you’re really thinking in a way that math and science and history and English, they can’t target those areas. It makes you think outside of the box more, which I think is what learning’s all about really.
Student: People have fought so hard for arts to not be taken out of school programs, and foreign language is an art. People can express themselves through foreign language.
Student: Language is just as important as math and science and English and social studies. And if you’re not cutting out those, then why would you cut out foreign language?
Chelsey: Chelsey D’Adesky, Channel One News.