Opinion: Give foreign language learning a chance to thrive

Dec 17, 2020

To the Editor:

It is with great sadness that I learned about ORR’s decision to drop a foreign language requirement. A former student and teacher of French and Spanish (in other school systems), I am sorry that there is not more appreciation of the many skillsets mastered in learning a foreign language, never mind the sheer joy of sharing that gift with a native speaker at home in America, or the gratitude a native speaker will extend when an American makes the effort in his/her homeland.

I have had the fortune to study abroad in college in France and actually met elderly folks who cried when I spoke French to them. Shop owners were delighted and often gave inside tips or a few extra slices upon my conversing in French. I have fond memories of all of my French and Spanish teachers who were always excited to share another culture, food or nuance in the language.

Our children are in a global economy. We are shortsighted and will set ourselves back, become increasingly more ignorant that there are other ways to live and to appreciate the world around us if the folks in charge don’t give foreign language learning a chance to thrive.

This is certainly not to dismiss English and Math. We have always done these things and we can certainly adapt curricula to make learning more efficient and even more fun.

I hope the thoughtful people in charge of this decision will revisit this difficult choice.

Merci et muchas graçias,
Carol Ryan