Ohio’s Language Programs in Trouble

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A new report just released by Ohio’s Foreign Language Advisory Council says Ohio must improve the way it teaches foreign language, in order for students to be competitive in today’s world.

Debbie Robinson, of Ohio’s Foreign Language Advisory Council, says the programs just aren’t making the grade.

“Too often we have those short programs for nine weeks, twelve weeks, maybe a semester, then we have to start over again with ‘Hello, what’s your name,’” Robinson said. “So we want to see as with other subjects, that the content builds on what they know.”

Robinson says it isn’t a new problem, and it isn’t limited to Ohio. Language programs across the United States are struggling, and have been for quite some time.

“Traditionally, we as a nation tend to favor English-only education,” Robinson said. “Foreign language has been seen as a content area for those going into college, not for someone going right into the workforce. But our world is changing.”

Robinson says experts now know that language learning helps students perform better on standardized tests.

More importantly, she says, starting languages at an early age prepares students to enter a world where communication is critical.

“It takes a long time to develop language skills,” Robinson says. “We need the advanced level of language speakers we need for our economy and national security, both here in Ohio and abroad.”

The report will now be sent to the State Board of Education, The Board of Regents, and the Governor… to determine what action will be taken.

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