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Joan in GE

When does your school district start offering foreign languages? & a second?

When and how many foreign languages are offered in your school district?  

31 members have voted

  1. 1. When and how many foreign languages are offered in your school district?

    • foreign language offered in Primary school, Jr Hi, and Sr. Hi
      38
    • foreign language offered in Jr. Hi. and Sr. Hi.
      56
    • foreign languages ONLY offered in Sr. Hi.
      45
    • more than one foreign language offered in Primary school
      8
    • more than one foreign language offered in Jr. Hi...
      31


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I'm curious which programs you've used for someone that has to put in a lot of effort - to get him to that level?

I didn't choose them based on how much work he had to do... we could certainly have gone with something easier. I went with what he would enjoy and what he would think was worth that effort.

 

So for Latin, Lone Pine (online) -- harder than a LOT of what I've seen others using, and especially so for a kid who doesn't memorize easily. (Tons of vocabulary in the first two years especially!) Not an easy A, and for some families, way more time than you would want to put in for something that wasn't a strength. I've heard from other parents whose kids do memorize easily that it really was an easy A... but not for DS - not even remotely! He loves it though.

 

For Spanish we've done Oklahoma State, which has been very good. Much easier than Lone Pine for Latin, but not quite as much fun as Lone Pine.... so it's just about right again. And although he didn't have any trouble keeping his A for the first two years, the 3rd year has been harder... and I added a lot of reading outside of what they did for class. That was partly because I wanted to make sure that his reading was strong, especially if he ends up doing Spanish on his own after this year, and partly because he picks up the reading and writing much more easily than he does the oral/ listening part. This year we're working more on that... Pimsleur and some Destinos, just to make sure he can do all four aspects. I find that Pimsleur, even if it's review, has the effect of speeding up his responses in a way that the regular curriculum doesn't.

 

So for us it has been a matter of balancing effort and enjoyment and letting him spend time on aspects that he can see a lot of progress with, but also finding ways to shore up his weaker areas. I don't think he would have been really well suited to being dumped into a random classroom, especially at a young age, without individual attention. And I think at least around here where languages aren't considered "core" courses, most people wouldn't put the amount of effort in for a kid who doesn't pick them up easily. Our case is a little unusual in that between extended family members and some unusual traveling, languages really are "core" in our family. Not necessarily any one specific language, but a willingness to jump in and try, plus some background in knowing what to work at. Latin, of course, has nothing to do with either family or travel, but it was what he wanted to start with, and it's a good background for learning other languages in the future.

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Very curious about the 'fluff' classes that are required...occupational education? what is that really? are there others not listed?

 

This becomes an advantage for home education then - or are they requiring these fluff classes for HE as well?

 

Thanks!

Joan

 

Here are our requirements:

 

Math: State, 3 years...District, 3 years

English: State, 3 years... District, 4 years

Social Studies: State, 2.5 years...District, 3 years

Science: State, 2 years... District, 2 years

PE: State, 2 years (can waive).... District, 2 years (can not waive)

Arts: State, 1 year.... District, 1 year

Occupational Education: State, 1 year.... District, 1 year

Electives: State, 5.5 years.... District, 5 years

 

HOWEVER, some of the Electives must be used to satisfy the "Culminating Project" requirement. This is where "Fluff" classes really come to play.

 

In our high school, the classes that are approved for Culminating Projects are a random smattering:

 

Career & Consumer Connections

Careers in Education

Entrepreneurship

Advanced Sports & Entertainment Marketing

Horticulture Science

Web Page Design

Journalism

Wellness For Life

Shop, Design & Fabrication

Leadership

 

This class list varies from district to district, and even varies within the high schools in the same district.

 

Making it worse, most of these above classes also have at least 1 year of prerequisites. So many students are spending 2 of their 5 elective credits on a required Culminating Project requirement. Also, they can't double dip: If one of these classes is also categorized as Occupation Education, it won't count to satisfy both Occ Ed and Culminating Project.

 

 

 

As a home educated student receiving a home school diploma, we can satisfy these requirements however we see fit. The only required reporting we do is to notify our district of our intent to homeschool. The students are also required to annually take a standardized test of our choosing, but the results are not reported to anyone.

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Our local ps has Spanish and French to AP level; German through German 3 (used to go through AP level but the number of students has dwindled in recent years). Hmmm, maybe that's all there is. When I attended this high school (decades ago!) we had Latin and Greek, but those days are long gone ... This year only one kid took the AP Spanish Lit exam (a friend of my son's, a native speaker; there is no class for this exam), but a lot of students took the AP Spanish Lang exam.

 

The ps the next town over (much more academically-focused parents; completely different demographic IYKWIM) has classes for AP Spanish Lang and AP Spanish Lit; AP French; AP German; AP Japanese and post-AP Honors Japanese 5; and ASL. I'm not sure why *Japanese* ... there are a lot of Asian students at this school (25% or so), but they are overwhelmingly Chinese-American.

 

There are several primary schools in our town that are bilingual (English-Spanish); again, the next town over has immersion programs at the primary level for Mandarin.

 

ETA: foreign language instruction here begins in 6th of 7th grade (at the non-immersion schools); students can add a second foreign language in high school. (BTW they're not called foreign languages at the two high schools I mention, as well as at UC Santa Cruz, but "world languages" -- perhaps this is a new PC thing?) Also, there is no foreign-language requirement for graduation, I believe, but they can be used to fill elective requirements. Most students do take at least two years, however, to fulfill entrance requirements for the Cal State system (UC prefers three or more years).

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For Spanish we've done Oklahoma State, which has been very good. Much easier than Lone Pine for Latin, but not quite as much fun as Lone Pine.... so it's just about right again. And although he didn't have any trouble keeping his A for the first two years, the 3rd year has been harder... and I added a lot of reading outside of what they did for class. That was partly because I wanted to make sure that his reading was strong, especially if he ends up doing Spanish on his own after this year, and partly because he picks up the reading and writing much more easily than he does the oral/ listening part. This year we're working more on that... Pimsleur and some Destinos, just to make sure he can do all four aspects. I find that Pimsleur, even if it's review, has the effect of speeding up his responses in a way that the regular curriculum doesn't.

 

So for us it has been a matter of balancing effort and enjoyment and letting him spend time on aspects that he can see a lot of progress with, but also finding ways to shore up his weaker areas. I don't think he would have been really well suited to being dumped into a random classroom, especially at a young age, without individual attention. And I think at least around here where languages aren't considered "core" courses, most people wouldn't put the amount of effort in for a kid who doesn't pick them up easily. Our case is a little unusual in that between extended family members and some unusual traveling, languages really are "core" in our family. Not necessarily any one specific language, but a willingness to jump in and try, plus some background in knowing what to work at. Latin, of course, has nothing to do with either family or travel, but it was what he wanted to start with, and it's a good background for learning other languages in the future.

 

Sounds like a really solid approach to developing language skills that is also paying off for your family...and it sounds like he has a really good base for the future..

 

Making it worse, most of these above classes also have at least 1 year of prerequisites. So many students are spending 2 of their 5 elective credits on a required Culminating Project requirement. Also, they can't double dip: If one of these classes is also categorized as Occupation Education, it won't count to satisfy both Occ Ed and Culminating Project.

 

As a home educated student receiving a home school diploma, we can satisfy these requirements however we see fit. The only required reporting we do is to notify our district of our intent to homeschool. The students are also required to annually take a standardized test of our choosing, but the results are not reported to anyone.

 

Thanks for the breakdown, Heather....I see what you mean about fluff. Also though it seems like the total of 20 credits over all is low....you have to wonder why there is no FL requirement at all...

 

Our local ps has Spanish and French to AP level; German through German 3 (used to go through AP level but the number of students has dwindled in recent years). Hmmm, maybe that's all there is. When I attended this high school (decades ago!) we had Latin and Greek, but those days are long gone ... This year only one kid took the AP Spanish Lit exam (a friend of my son's, a native speaker; there is no class for this exam), but a lot of students took the AP Spanish Lang exam.

 

The ps the next town over (much more academically-focused parents; completely different demographic IYKWIM) has classes for AP Spanish Lang and AP Spanish Lit; AP French; AP German; AP Japanese and post-AP Honors Japanese 5; and ASL. I'm not sure why *Japanese* ... there are a lot of Asian students at this school (25% or so), but they are overwhelmingly Chinese-American.

 

There are several primary schools in our town that are bilingual (English-Spanish); again, the next town over has immersion programs at the primary level for Mandarin.

 

ETA: foreign language instruction here begins in 6th of 7th grade (at the non-immersion schools); students can add a second foreign language in high school. (BTW they're not called foreign languages at the two high schools I mention, as well as at UC Santa Cruz, but "world languages" -- perhaps this is a new PC thing?) Also, there is no foreign-language requirement for graduation, I believe, but they can be used to fill elective requirements. Most students do take at least two years, however, to fulfill entrance requirements for the Cal State system (UC prefers three or more years).

 

What a difference in expectations - and why it would be even more important to HE in an area where there are fewer options...

 

We had Latin and modern foreign languages when I was in high school, but no FL in Jr. Hi....

 

I just talked with my SIL, a teacher in a middle school...they have FL from 6 - 8th, one semester each of Spanish and German, all three years. This is supposed to give one high school credit. But she says that in reality, because it is so spread out, they really need to do German I again in high school!!! I guess it gives a base to build on, but then are expectations too low?

 

Anyway, I appreciate all your input. I've learned a lot from all your answers and see how patchworked the system is really - with a huge variety of expectations that are very localized.....

 

Thank you very much!

Joan

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Wow, it sounds like FL gets a lot of funding in your district - or is it statewide? Could I ask which state (PM if it is private?)?

 

Joan

 

I am in Ohio. The Montessori school is a private school, so it receives no money from the state.

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No foreign language required and only French or Spanish taught at the school beginning in 9th grade.

 

We do offer Japanese by distance learning (videoed from another school), but again, only starting in 9th grade.

 

It was one of my big beefs with our school district that they start languages too late (considering earlier is better in studies). However, my complaints went nowhere.

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No foreign language required and only French or Spanish taught at the school beginning in 9th grade.

 

We do offer Japanese by distance learning (videoed from another school), but again, only starting in 9th grade.

 

It was one of my big beefs with our school district that they start languages too late (considering earlier is better in studies). However, my complaints went nowhere.

 

Thanks creekland...do you know if the students do well with the video Japanese lessons? just wondering if that is personal enough for a classroom situation....my dd does it with OSU, but I think it would be easier to concentrate alone....From all your other posts, it doesn't sound like your district has a lot of funding....so probably not for FL either...

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The distance learning works well IME. We had one young lady opt to be an exchange student in Japan and she learned some (but not all) of her Japanese with the distance learning teacher. She was having a great year, but then had to come home due to the earthquake/tsunami. She wasn't in that area, but all of Japan was kind of hit financially, etc, and the exchange program insisted all students return home. She still loved what time she had there.

 

They aren't full classes with distance learning. Only a handful of kids sign up for them, so it makes it easier to get personal and the video goes both ways so kids can be asked questions, etc.

 

We have far more funding for our school than many states, so it could be included. They just don't want to. They choose to use it in other ways (higher salaries, more to lower level kids, and more supplies given to kids are three that come to mind).

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I forgot another district requirement, 1 year of computer applications. Unless you have had a kid go all the way through our public high school, you don't realize how many constraints are placed on their "electives."

 

So, actual district requirements are:

 

Math (3)

English (4)

Science (2)

History (3)

Art (1)

PE (2)

Occupational Ed (1)

Culminating Project (usually 2)

Computer Applications (1) - (Can test out of this class)

 

Above totals 19 credits. My college bound, public school kids will take 4 years of math and 4 years of science. That brings us to 22 credits. There are 6 periods/day for a total of 24 credits. Wow! Two whole credits left for foreign language or other individual interests.

 

A few subjects can be taken at 0 hour, generally PE and Computer Applications. Of course, then you have very tired kiddos. Especially those with after school sports & activities.

 

My DS is currently taking a district approved on-line PE class in order to free up room for foreign language. How absurd! His cross country and track coach, who also teaches science in the district, can't approve a PE waiver, but DS can submit running logs & take running quizes on-line for a teacher 1,000 miles away??

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My college bound, public school kids will take 4 years of math and 4 years of science. That brings us to 22 credits. There are 6 periods/day for a total of 24 credits. Wow! Two whole credits left for foreign language or other individual interests.

 

Yes, I see that if you want them to do all the math and science for college-bound work, it does add up and doesn't leave much time at all for FL...

 

How much homework do they have to do per day/ per week? (I have no idea at all but am just curious what total time would be)

 

 

creekland - thanks for info about Japanese - I see it is more like a video conference type thing if they can ask questions, etc....Maybe this is the answer for those districts which don't need full time FL instructors for certain languages...

 

Joan

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Our school district offers foreign languages starting in 9th grade. Foreign languages is not a graduation requirement in our state.

 

It is pathetic.

 

In my home country, all kids start the first language in 3rd and the second language in 6th, and both are taken throughout high school. It is considered part of being an educated person.

 

No, it can not be a question of time. In Germany, school days are much shorter than in the US, and they still get two languages done. It is, IMO, solely a question of priorities.

I do not see people here demanding more foreign language education. The expectations are highly unrealistic: kids take two years in high school and complain that they can't really speak much after that; they are completely ignorant of the fact that it takes many years to develop fluency.

People just do not consider it important to study a foreign language and culture; living in the greatest country on Earth seems to make that unnecessary.

 

Regentrude is right.

 

Foreign languages in the US are hit or miss, mostly miss. Districts vary widely in what they offer. The only elementary students who get significant foreign language teaching are those lucky enough to be enrolled in immersion programs where at least half the day is taught in the target language. Others are lucky to get 90 minutes a week with a teacher who teaches all of the students in the school.

 

The school where I teach is a charter school for 6th-12th grade students. Starting this year, all of the middle school students will have one week of Spanish every fifth week. Starting in ninth grade, they can take a full course. My school also offers Japanese, but students cannot take both because of how the day is scheduled. Plus, then they would be devoting 2 of 6 periods to languages and may not be able to fit everything in.

 

When I was in high school, I took both French and Spanish one year. I wanted to add Italian the next, but my guidance counselor and my mother balked at that. I ended up dropping French and just taking Spanish. So, honestly, I think that there is really no way that an American student could seriously study more than one language, between scheduling issues and other required credits.

 

Many of my Spanish students claim to have studied Spanish or had Spanish in elementary or middle school, but when I scratch the surface, I find that they don't know anything more than the average American child who watched a few episodes of Plaza Sesame. Articulation is the real problem - there is no comprehensive approach that goes from K to 12th.

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How much homework do they have to do per day/ per week? (I have no idea at all but am just curious what total time would be)

 

Joan

 

Homework load varies widely depending on the level of classes. AP classes could be 1+ hour each per day. My dd had an AP class her senior year that required 2-3 hours per night. (She dropped it at semester). Non-AP classes are anywhere from no homework - 20 minutes each per day on average.

 

Many college bound students will have 1-4 AP's per year.

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The school where I teach is a charter school for 6th-12th grade students. Starting this year, all of the middle school students will have one week of Spanish every fifth week. Starting in ninth grade, they can take a full course. My school also offers Japanese, but students cannot take both because of how the day is scheduled. Plus, then they would be devoting 2 of 6 periods to languages and may not be able to fit everything in.

 

......I think that there is really no way that an American student could seriously study more than one language, between scheduling issues and other required credits.

 

Many of my Spanish students claim to have studied Spanish or had Spanish in elementary or middle school, but when I scratch the surface, I find that they don't know anything more than the average American child who watched a few episodes of Plaza Sesame. Articulation is the real problem - there is no comprehensive approach that goes from K to 12th.

 

I also hadn't realized how much scheduling could be an issue....This was something else that my SIL was discussing, just in trying to have some students do math that is one year more advanced than they are for the rest of the subjects...very difficult to schedule....I hadn't realized how much simple scheduling issues could affect things....

 

Is this class size (I mean total class size - so that there aren't enough different combinations of kids)?

 

I'm wondering what regentrude would say about how they are dealing with this in Germany.......I haven't investigated here - but will start asking questions....

 

Homework load varies widely depending on the level of classes. AP classes could be 1+ hour each per day. My dd had an AP class her senior year that required 2-3 hours per night. (She dropped it at semester). Non-AP classes are anywhere from no homework - 20 minutes each per day on average.

 

Many college bound students will have 1-4 AP's per year.

 

What a drastic difference between AP and "non" homework load!

 

Joan

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I'm wondering what regentrude would say about how they are dealing with this in Germany.

 

There are no scheduling problems in German schools, simply because all students in a class takes all courses together (until 11th grade).

In secondary school, i.e. beginning in 5th grade, students choose which language they want as their second language starting in 6th grade and are placed in a class where all children will have this language. When my DD was at school in Germany, she was in a class that took French; other classes took Russian or Latin. Aside from this, every student in the grade takes the same subjects.

 

In 11th and 12th, kids drop certain subjects and must choose some for more advanced work. I have not heard that certain combinations would not be possible. Scheduling is easier because we do not have the pattern one subject=same period every day of the week; they are required to study two sciences, math, German, two foreign languages and one humanity plus electives, some at normal and some at advanced level. Not having every subject every day for an hour makes the schedule more flexible.

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There are no scheduling problems in German schools, simply because all students in a class takes all courses together (until 11th grade).

In secondary school, i.e. beginning in 5th grade, students choose which language they want as their second language starting in 6th grade and are placed in a class where all children will have this language. When my DD was at school in Germany, she was in a class that took French; other classes took Russian or Latin. Aside from this, every student in the grade takes the same subjects.

 

 

It's true, scheduling in U.S. schools can be a nightmare ... This year our local ps really messed things up, forcing kids to choose between, say, various AP classes or between an AP class and band or orchestra. They just can't do that to these college-bound kids! Since I have one in ps high school and one at home, I REALLY appreciate the freedom I have to choose my hser's schedule & classes!

 

This is obviously an exception, but here is an interesting article (in German) about some students in eastern Germany being put in a Russian class (as their second foreign language) instead of French, against their wishes. Here is the follow-up, a few weeks later.

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I also hadn't realized how much scheduling could be an issue....This was something else that my SIL was discussing, just in trying to have some students do math that is one year more advanced than they are for the rest of the subjects...very difficult to schedule....I hadn't realized how much simple scheduling issues could affect things....

 

Is this class size (I mean total class size - so that there aren't enough different combinations of kids)?

 

Joan

 

My school is very small, so if we had a student who wanted to do both languages, it might be possible to accomodate him or her by scheduling them so they weren't at the same time. In the higher levels of languages (3 and up) sometimes schools will only have one section, and then it may be impossible to take it and fulfill all other requirements.

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This is obviously an exception, but here is an interesting article (in German) about some students in eastern Germany being put in a Russian class (as their second foreign language) instead of French, against their wishes. Here is the follow-up, a few weeks later.

 

I have heard about this; it happened in my home town. The fact that it made the national news means it is rare.

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While I'm on a roll, haha, here (for Joan, and anyone else interested) is an article about how different the college-prep high schools in Germany (Gymnasien) can be ... some offer Latin & Ancient Greek; others offer Turkish for credit (if that's what 'Leistungskurs' means ... regentrude, help?!? :001_smile:).

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While I'm on a roll, haha, here (for Joan, and anyone else interested) is an article about how different the college-prep high schools in Germany (Gymnasien) can be ... some offer Latin & Ancient Greek; others offer Turkish for credit (if that's what 'Leistungskurs' means ... regentrude, help?!? :001_smile:).

 

"Leistungskurs" is the more advanced course, "Grundkurs" is the standard course. In 11th and 12th grade, students are required to choose several subjects in several fields (a science, a language, a humanity or something like this) for advanced work while doing standard work in the remaining subjects.

So, Leistungskurs Turkish means that students can choose Turkish for deeper specialized studies - which makes sense, because the largest minority in Germany comes from Turkey.

 

The schools are different, while still fulfilling the state requirements. Some schools have a special focus on classical languages, modern languages, or STEM (you could compare it with magnet schools for especially interested students), but the majority of Gymnasien is regular without specialized focus. It differs which languages are offered; while all schools offer English as first language (except near the French border where that might be French), there are typically only a handful of second foreign languages offered at each school.

 

The second school portrayed in the article is an exception among schools and geared towards students from international backgrounds- 80% from families where German is not the native language. The families specifically choose this school; such a demographic combination is not typical.

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Scheduling is easier because we do not have the pattern one subject=same period every day of the week

 

Your post has gotten me thinking of a whole different topic for which I hope to start a new thread in a week or two because we're leaving tomorrow for three days and then again next weekend - so I don't want to start something and leave which is what I'm about to do now....

 

About the schedule though, I see what you mean - even if there are occasional problems...

 

But here's another question - probably could be the topic of another thread though there wouldn't be so many people who could answer, so I won't....

 

There's this huge discrepancy between these US credits and how things are done in Europe (at least the part I've seen)...when you do a subject only a couple of times a week...but over several years....it seems on the surface messier to really match up standards. What I mean by that is that in the US you get a credit of biology, etc. Now in reality, that credit could be vastly different between one school and another. But wouldn't it be even worse when you just have a couple of hours of week per subject? Or is the answer in standardized testing? But then still people have to compare different countries' curricula so that they can decide if those students are eligible for university in foreign countries (thus the Bologna Accords). This is giving me a headache trying to sort it out (must have given education ministers and even bigger one)...OK, the question in a nutshell...Are students learning more or less in a typical (if it exists) Physics course in the US in ONE year, as high school students in Germany are learning over several years?

 

I realize this is a FL thread but it seems even harder to compare FL since they tend to generally start earlier, so FL in high school is at a higher level - or is this incorrect? Remembering a friend who studied German and it seemed that they were analyzing literature by the end of high school (which would be the same here)....

 

Hoping you can understand my questions, regentrude,

Joan

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It's true, scheduling in U.S. schools can be a nightmare ... This year our local ps really messed things up, forcing kids to choose between, say, various AP classes or between an AP class and band or orchestra. They just can't do that to these college-bound kids! Since I have one in ps high school and one at home, I REALLY appreciate the freedom I have to choose my hser's schedule & classes!

 

This is obviously an exception, but here is an interesting article (in German) about some students in eastern Germany being put in a Russian class (as their second foreign language) instead of French, against their wishes. Here is the follow-up, a few weeks later.

 

Certainly HE beats institutions hands-down in terms of scheduling...

 

For people who don't know - Google has the option of TRANSLATE :001_smile:. You can read this article too.:001_smile:

 

If you do a lot of translating - you can just download Google Chrome and it will ask if you want the page translated automatically.:001_smile:

 

Now Laura - I'm really curious how you came across such an article - and how funny that it happens to be regentrude's home town...

 

But also it is interesting that students are really taking the matter up and are concerned about it like that...

 

While I'm on a roll, haha, here (for Joan, and anyone else interested) is an article about how different the college-prep high schools in Germany (Gymnasien) can be ... some offer Latin & Ancient Greek; others offer Turkish for credit (if that's what 'Leistungskurs' means ... regentrude, help?!? :001_smile:).

 

Thanks Laura! I have to go out now but will read later.

 

Joan

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My school is very small, so if we had a student who wanted to do both languages, it might be possible to accomodate him or her by scheduling them so they weren't at the same time. In the higher levels of languages (3 and up) sometimes schools will only have one section, and then it may be impossible to take it and fulfill all other requirements.

 

Hmmm, which is better - big or small - I'd been thinking bigger for options but here small is good. Ok, homeschool - smallest generally - is even better but then we generally have other ways of providing the resources....

 

I can see esp how the higher levels would be harder to meet...

 

http://www.ncssfl.org/

 

On the page "state reports" you can find a variety of state requirements and reports. I see one document with high school requirements and another with elementary.

 

A quick response since I have to leave -

 

Thank you so much for posting this as I had no idea that there was such an organization!!!

 

Joan

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There's this huge discrepancy between these US credits and how things are done in Europe (at least the part I've seen)...when you do a subject only a couple of times a week...but over several years....it seems on the surface messier to really match up standards.

 

I have not read this thread, and just happened upon your post. I cannot compare science, but I have taught math in the USA and in NZ and I can tell you without a doubt that the US gets much further in math than NZ because the USA focuses on a single subject for the entire year.

 

NZ has 5 "strands": numeracy, algebra (pattern recognition in younger years), geometry, statistics, and measurement. Each one is taught for 2-3 months every year. Measurement and numeracy eventually fall out at the end of 9th grade. What happens is that you spend so much time reviewing material that the students have learned previously, that you have much less time to spend on the new material. Algebra in 8th grade in the USA is what is taught in 10th grade in NZ, because the NZ system is concurrently teaching geometry and statistics.

 

IMHO, the NZ system is MUCH better for the average student, who has a chance to review every year. Also, if a student hates geometry, they know that it is only for 2 or 3 months and then they can get to algebra.

 

The USA system is much better for the math lover or for the advanced student. Those students can learn so much more math because they are not spending so much time reviewing.

 

I am guessing that the situation is similar in the sciences because in NZ classes you cover biology, chemistry, physics, and environmental science each year at progressively more difficult levels over time. I would expect there is lots and lots of review.

 

Ruth in NZ

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There's this huge discrepancy between these US credits and how things are done in Europe (at least the part I've seen)...when you do a subject only a couple of times a week...but over several years....it seems on the surface messier to really match up standards. What I mean by that is that in the US you get a credit of biology, etc. Now in reality, that credit could be vastly different between one school and another. But wouldn't it be even worse when you just have a couple of hours of week per subject? Or is the answer in standardized testing?

 

The difference between schools within one state is much smaller than in the US, because each must cover the state mandated curriculum, in order to prepare the students for the exit exam. The students of the gymnasium (college prep school) take a final exam, called the Abitur. The exam is standardized in each state. Students are required to take several written and several oral examinations; math, German, one foreign language, one science and one elective must be tested (might be more; some require written, some both written and oral). Students will have examinations over a period of several weeks at the end of grade 12 (or 13 in some western states). I believe grades in the other subjects come from cumulative work in the last two years.

One factor that greatly equalizes school quality is that the funding is independent of the neighborhood demographics; whereas in the US school funding depends on local real estate taxes in the community, German schools are equally funded by the state.

There are differences between the states, because in Germany, education is decided on state and not federal level. generally, southern states (Bavaria and Baden-Wurtemberg)and Saxony have higher standards than the northern states.

 

.Are students learning more or less in a typical (if it exists) Physics course in the US in ONE year, as high school students in Germany are learning over several years?

Students in the US in one year typically learn less. They just have a year - and German student starts physics in 6th grade and have two periods of physics every week through 10th grade; should they decide to keep physics as a normal subject (not advanced), they will have more periods in 11th and 12th. If they decide to choose physics as one of the subjects for more advanced work, they will use calculus ( calc in math is mandatory for every university bound student in grades 11 and 12.)

(The algebra based college physics I teach at the university is a solid 10th grade level class in a German gymnasium.

 

The biggest difference is: EVERY student in EVERY school will have had physics form 6th through 10th grade, chemistry form 7th through 10th, biology from 5th through 10th, and two of those in grades 11 and 12. You will not have the situation that a school does not offer these subjects - something I frequently observe with my incoming students. 25% of the students in my calc based phsyics course for STEM majors never had any physics in high school.

In addition, studying the subjects continuously over several years leads to a better retention, compared to taking one isolated year of a subject and never touching it again.

 

I realize this is a FL thread but it seems even harder to compare FL since they tend to generally start earlier, so FL in high school is at a higher level - or is this incorrect? Remembering a friend who studied German and it seemed that they were analyzing literature by the end of high school (which would be the same here)....

Naturally, foreign language will be at a higher level because students have been studying their first foreign language since grade 3 and their second foreign language since grade 6. They are taught by teachers who are fluent; you can not become a foreign language teacher if you have not studied this particular language at the university (here in the US I have seen German teachers teach Spanish by reading the book a chapter ahead of the class).

the content of DD's College French 1 course would have been comparable to her 6th grade German public school French class, just more fast paced.

 

I do not know what exactly they do in class in the upper grades, but if students had 10 years of a language four days a week, they must be more advanced than students who take only 2-4 years.

I do not believe that students in their 4th year of language study are capable of actual literary analysis in the foreign language; they can read some original literature, but I do not think they are prepared for the linguistic complexity of the top works. We read Pushkin, Gogol and Tolstoi in Russian class in our 8th/9th year of study with a native speaking teacher and it was difficult. I did not read English original fiction for recreation until about my 6th/7th year of study, and I could not follow an original American movie without subtitles until I had studied the language for 10+ years (it will be faster for somebody who has actual immersion by living in an English speaking environment)

 

Hope this answers your questions.

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I do not know what exactly they do in class in the upper grades, but if students had 10 years of a language four days a week, they must be more advanced than students who take only 2-4 years.

I do not believe that students in their 4th year of language study are capable of actual literary analysis in the foreign language; they can read some original literature, but I do not think they are prepared for the linguistic complexity of the top works. We read Pushkin, Gogol and Tolstoi in Russian class in our 8th/9th year of study with a native speaking teacher and it was difficult. I did not read English original fiction for recreation until about my 6th/7th year of study, and I could not follow an original American movie without subtitles until I had studied the language for 10+ years (it will be faster for somebody who has actual immersion by living in an English speaking environment)

 

Hope this answers your questions.

 

I had 3.5 years of Spanish at the high school level, I graduated at semester my senior year. I have also been out of school for 25+ years ago. However, our Spanish teacher was a native speaker and we did no literature analysis our final year. My recall is fuzzy, but I know we didn't read any real literature, we might have been reading some stories. We did watch some television shows and some programs designed for language learning, but we were not reading Spanish works by any means. I missed a semester, obviously, but the class would not have been ready to read a Spanish book for analysis. Comprehension would have been the goal.

 

 

I know that the attitude was languages were truly electives. I grew up in the midwest and at that time there were much smaller segments of society where the native language was not English. The fact we had a native speaker for our teacher was not common. I credit her with instilling a passion for languages. But the truth is, at that time, unless you left the midwest, second language study was NOT considered necessary.

 

So far we are instilling a different mindset for ds. He is very interested in language study.

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Naturally, foreign language will be at a higher level because students have been studying their first foreign language since grade 3 and their second foreign language since grade 6. They are taught by teachers who are fluent; you can not become a foreign language teacher if you have not studied this particular language at the university

 

And the second part of statement is so important. Around here (in the US), Spanish is "taught" in the elementary schools, but at such a low level to not be useful. They play some games, learn some songs, and a handful of words. These kids then start Spanish "for real" in seventh grade, but with no advantage at all over those who didn't have this, so it is like not having taken it at all. I see the same thing in homeschooling communities with those who start Latin \ at age 6, with the desire to go very slowly, and in the course of several years manage to cover about a week or two of high school Latin. I'm not sure there's much value in this.

 

The exception to this is our one Spanish immersion elementary school. These kids really learn Spanish. However, our school district is currently wringing their collective hands because these kids have lower Math and English scores than their non-immersed peers, so they are talking about cancelling the program.

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I can tell I'm running out of energy; it's the end of the day. I just looked at all those smiley faces I put this morning and have to wonder about myself, but figure it was because I was full of energy.

 

I have taught math in the USA and in NZ and I can tell you without a doubt that the US gets much further in math than NZ because the USA focuses on a single subject for the entire year.

 

Thanks for the comparison, Ruth! I had no knowledge of the NZ system....

 

From reading regentrude's posts it seems to depend on the country as it seems that Germany is ahead of the US...so it must be how they are doing the integrated math....

 

The US is moving to Integrated Math: algebra 1, algebra 2, and geometry combined.

 

Hmmm...so kind of like Saxon? And how are they dealing with the credit issue?

 

regentrude, elegant lion and GGardener, I'm going to have answer your posts in 3 days as I want to do them justice and am so exhausted that I can't think in a concise way, but have to get ready to travel......but I'll be back:)

 

Joan

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I've been thinking about this thread a lot this week. I think one reason why the US has often lagged in teaching foreign language is because they are putting so much effort into teaching students English. Not only do you have many students for whom English is a second language (and one not spoken with fluency at home), but you have many students who are learning the forms of formal English almost as if it were a new dialect.

 

So while I put a lot of emphasis on learning foreign languages in our family, I have to realize that the priority for others may be a mastery of English, in order to use it as the language of business and continued education. Urban US schools aren't just coping with students of one other language background. ESL classes may contain students from a dozen or more different heritage or native languages. (The most recent statement I'm finding for our district is that 44% of students speak a language other than English at home, with over 100 different languages being represented. Some of these homes may have fluent English speakers or have adults who are bi/multilingual.)

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I've been thinking about this thread a lot this week. I think one reason why the US has often lagged in teaching foreign language is because they are putting so much effort into teaching students English. Not only do you have many students for whom English is a second language (and one not spoken with fluency at home), but you have many students who are learning the forms of formal English almost as if it were a new dialect.

 

Urban US schools aren't just coping with students of one other language background. ESL classes may contain students from a dozen or more different heritage or native languages. (The most recent statement I'm finding for our district is that 44% of students speak a language other than English at home, with over 100 different languages being represented. Some of these homes may have fluent English speakers or have adults who are bi/multilingual.)

 

Interesting point. I am just not sure why teaching English should be so incredibly time and resource consuming, even if students do not speak English at home - wouldn't the immersion in a classroom for seven hours a day where a teachers speak English be sufficient to acquire the language, even if the parents do not speak? (We completely avoided speaking English in the home when our kids were little; they very quickly spoke better English than we do, simply from immersion.)

We have a similar problem in Germany: some children of immigrants whose parents have been living in the country for decades are not fluent in German. It has always boggled my mind how that is possible; after all, the family must actively resist the language of the country and create a negative attitude towards it to prevent the kids from acquiring it by simple immersion. I sent my kids who knew no single word of English to an English preschool for a few hours a day, and within a few months they spoke at the level of their English same age peers, without any practice at home.

 

We are in a rural area; our county has hardly any minorities; only the children of university employees are not native speakers. None of my foreign colleagues' kids has problems learning English; the families are usually speaking their native language at home to raise the kids bilingually, and the kids quickly surpass their parents' English abilities. I have not seen ESL offered in the elementary school, at least nobody offered us any when my kids were in ps, and I do not know of any colleague whose children have ESL instruction. they attend the regular class and it works just fine. So, there should be no reason not to have a strong foreign language program if almost everybody is a white native speaker....

 

ETA: I absolutely see your point for inner city schools where none of the students speak standard English. They would not even have anybody to model correct language. But that would not explain the situation in the rest of the country.

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I've been thinking about this thread a lot this week. I think one reason why the US has often lagged in teaching foreign language is because they are putting so much effort into teaching students English.

 

I had another thought, which I did not want to tag on to my other reply:

 

I am finding the educational philosophy in the US to be very different from the one in Western Europe. In the US, education is very utilitarian: the acquired skill or knowledge is valued based on how useful it is, how important for employment, how it translates into a higher income. There is always the question present "how am I going to use this knowledge?" The idea of an education for education's sake, just so one can be considered a cultured, sophisticated, educated person is not prevalent. Which makes sense in front of the historical background.

In contrast, emerging from a long history of European educational traditions, it is considered a value in itself to be "educated". Foreign language studies are part of that; they are not so much driven by the sheer usefulness, but are simply considered part of a well rounded educated person (otherwise, nobody would study classical Greek in school, as it is of limited practical value and does not give any advantages with respect to employability).

I observe the same difference in university education.

 

Now, if one accepts this difference, it is clear that there is little foreign language teaching in the US: from a mere practical point of view, it is inefficient, since the rest of the world learns English anyway. In order to teach foreign languages, the people would have to value language learning for learning's sake and would have to consider the study of another culture worthwhile without immediate economic gain.

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I think this is also an area where it is hard to talk about American education as

Monolith. We don't have different types of schools based in abilities and goals. Many aren't even that comfortable with tracking within a building or classroom.

 

There are areas where education is prized because that is what people of value do. We live in such and area. The kids learning languages may well spend time abroad using them. But that is a subset of students within a well funded well organized district. There are certainly students who dwell in the realm of "will this be on the test?"

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I had another thought, which I did not want to tag on to my other reply:

 

I am finding the educational philosophy in the US to be very different from the one in Western Europe. In the US, education is very utilitarian: the acquired skill or knowledge is valued based on how useful it is, how important for employment, how it translates into a higher income. There is always the question present "how am I going to use this knowledge?" The idea of an education for education's sake, just so one can be considered a cultured, sophisticated, educated person is not prevalent. Which makes sense in front of the historical background.

In contrast, emerging from a long history of European educational traditions, it is considered a value in itself to be "educated". Foreign language studies are part of that; they are not so much driven by the sheer usefulness, but are simply considered part of a well rounded educated person (otherwise, nobody would study classical Greek in school, as it is of limited practical value and does not give any advantages with respect to employability).

I observe the same difference in university education.

 

Now, if one accepts this difference, it is clear that there is little foreign language teaching in the US: from a mere practical point of view, it is inefficient, since the rest of the world learns English anyway. In order to teach foreign languages, the people would have to value language learning for learning's sake and would have to consider the study of another culture worthwhile without immediate economic gain.

 

Where I grew up, foreign language was indeed presented as part of a well-rounded education. Those who were oriented towards college were expected to start in 7th grade with grammar-based instruction. I remember even at that level struggling through conjugations of verbs, doing long translations, and being graded on pronounciation including memorizing poems, giving speeches, etc. The 7th-8th grade levels were equivalent to the high school 9th grade level, so you could potentially graduate with five years of high school study. They strongly encouraged at least three years. And national tests, regional competitions, and AP exams were the norm.

 

In contrast, here it is presented as an "elective" and from all that I've heard is more "fun language." A lot of it is cultural knowledge, and the grammar is minimal. Exams are often open book, and one Spanish teacher told me that "oral practice didn't matter as long as you can communicate." The classes don't take any of the national exams, and AP-level instruction is infreqent. The Latin teacher told me that she hasn't offered AP Latin in five years. Obviously not a priority.

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Where I grew up, foreign language was indeed presented as part of a well-rounded education. Those who were oriented towards college were expected to start in 7th grade with grammar-based instruction. I remember even at that level struggling through conjugations of verbs, doing long translations, and being graded on pronounciation including memorizing poems, giving speeches, etc. The 7th-8th grade levels were equivalent to the high school 9th grade level, so you could potentially graduate with five years of high school study. They strongly encouraged at least three years. And national tests, regional competitions, and AP exams were the norm.

 

In contrast, here it is presented as an "elective" and from all that I've heard is more "fun language." A lot of it is cultural knowledge, and the grammar is minimal. Exams are often open book, and one Spanish teacher told me that "oral practice didn't matter as long as you can communicate." The classes don't take any of the national exams, and AP-level instruction is infreqent. The Latin teacher told me that she hasn't offered AP Latin in five years. Obviously not a priority.

 

A lot of this is the change in language teaching over the last couple decades though. I took a grad course in teaching foreign languages in 2007 and the party line is communicative, communicative, communicative. Every speech act must be an authentic act of communication. Memorizing dialogues? Not real communication. Grammar instruction? Not the way language should be taught. Etc. Some of this I agree with - methods popular in the 60s and 70s were not necessarily effective. However, during the class I went to my daughter's ballet class and watched them at the barre and they were not making each movement an authentic act of dance - they were practicing and practicing so that they would have the building blocks and the muscle memory to be able to dance well later. I try to combine both elements in my teaching, and yes, I do try to also make it fun and relevant. :tongue_smilie:

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I am guessing that the situation is similar in the sciences because in NZ classes you cover biology, chemistry, physics, and environmental science each year at progressively more difficult levels over time. I would expect there is lots and lots of review.

 

I was thinking about this on our vacation and thought about the French biology books that I had to peruse to find the subject matter being taught in the Swiss (Geneva) 8th grade biology exam....I realized that there is a big difference in that math requires more of a base, that is then used again in higher level math...Eg if you can't add, you can't do algebra type of thing. Whereas in the biology books, in different grades, there was almost no repetition of material, they tended to be talking about different systems completely. So in a way, I think it is quite different in the sciences...not to be argumentative - just to add to the discussion...

 

The students of the gymnasium (college prep school) take a final exam, called the Abitur. The exam is standardized in each state.

 

Here in Switzerland you can take the Cantonal Maturite or for private schools and autodidact (self-taught) there is the Federal Maturite. They are given equal rank if applying to uni the last I heard, but they can be quite different.

 

Do they have a Federal Abitur in Germany?

 

One factor that greatly equalizes school quality is that the funding is independent of the neighborhood demographics; whereas in the US school funding depends on local real estate taxes in the community, German schools are equally funded by the state.

There are differences between the states, because in Germany, education is decided on state and not federal level. generally, southern states (Bavaria and Baden-Wurtemberg)and Saxony have higher standards than the northern states.

 

Students in the US in one year typically learn less. They just have a year - and German student starts physics in 6th grade and have two periods of physics every week through 10th grade; should they decide to keep physics as a normal subject (not advanced), they will have more periods in 11th and 12th. If they decide to choose physics as one of the subjects for more advanced work, they will use calculus ( calc in math is mandatory for every university bound student in grades 11 and 12.)

(The algebra based college physics I teach at the university is a solid 10th grade level class in a German gymnasium.

 

The calc for all uni bound students is definitely a big difference (as well as the level of foreign language attainment)...

 

Agreeing that funding can completely change the equation....

 

The biggest difference is: EVERY student in EVERY school will have had physics form 6th through 10th grade, chemistry from 7th through 10th, biology from 5th through 10th, and two of those in grades 11 and 12. You will not have the situation that a school does not offer these subjects - something I frequently observe with my incoming students. 25% of the students in my calc based phsyics course for STEM majors never had any physics in high school.

In addition, studying the subjects continuously over several years leads to a better retention, compared to taking one isolated year of a subject and never touching it again.

 

Naturally, foreign language will be at a higher level because students have been studying their first foreign language since grade 3 and their second foreign language since grade 6. They are taught by teachers who are fluent; you can not become a foreign language teacher if you have not studied this particular language at the university (here in the US I have seen German teachers teach Spanish by reading the book a chapter ahead of the class).

the content of DD's College French 1 course would have been comparable to her 6th grade German public school French class, just more fast paced.

 

I do not know what exactly they do in class in the upper grades, but if students had 10 years of a language four days a week, they must be more advanced than students who take only 2-4 years.

I do not believe that students in their 4th year of language study are capable of actual literary analysis in the foreign language; they can read some original literature, but I do not think they are prepared for the linguistic complexity of the top works. We read Pushkin, Gogol and Tolstoi in Russian class in our 8th/9th year of study with a native speaking teacher and it was difficult. I did not read English original fiction for recreation until about my 6th/7th year of study, and I could not follow an original American movie without subtitles until I had studied the language for 10+ years (it will be faster for somebody who has actual immersion by living in an English speaking environment)

 

Hope this answers your questions.

 

You did answer my questions - sorry to give you more!

 

It's interesting what you are saying about all students having to take bio, chem and physics for so many years....But couldn't some of those physics topics have been taught under general and physical science in the US in Jr. Hi? Not that it would necessarily be retained for 4 years later...

 

Maybe having some of each science every year helps the student keep thinking about the subject as well? In perusing the biology books, if you would just take the biology studied one year, it is not at all a complete course.....From that perspective, I do think it is a better system...

 

About the 4th year of language study - I'll have to ask my friend - probably she wasn't doing the harder works in German...But her school was also more advanced than my high school, offering lots of AP's, and was well funded...If you are doing 5 periods a week of a language, you could probably move along pretty far with determined students... (not your average US high school though)...

 

Joan

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Do they have a Federal Abitur in Germany?

 

No. There is a push towards this, but of course the high performing states want to keep their standards, and the low performing states object.

 

But couldn't some of those physics topics have been taught under general and physical science in the US in Jr. Hi? Not that it would necessarily be retained for 4 years later...

That is probably be correct, but even then, that would only be one year.

 

One crucial difference is the level of teacher training: in Germany, a biology teacher has studied biology and a physics teacher has studied physics at the university - a teacher without this training will not be teaching the subject. Not like stories I hear from my students here where the bio teacher taught physics and had to skip the chapter on angular momentum because she did not understand the concept.

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However, our Spanish teacher was a native speaker and we did no literature analysis our final year. My recall is fuzzy, but I know we didn't read any real literature, we might have been reading some stories. We did watch some television shows and some programs designed for language learning, but we were not reading Spanish works by any means.

 

Yes, I think it does depend on the school - see my comment to regentrude above...

 

And the second part of statement is so important. Around here (in the US), Spanish is "taught" in the elementary schools, but at such a low level to not be useful. They play some games, learn some songs, and a handful of words. These kids then start Spanish "for real" in seventh grade, but with no advantage at all over those who didn't have this, so it is like not having taken it at all. I see the same thing in homeschooling communities with those who start Latin \ at age 6, with the desire to go very slowly, and in the course of several years manage to cover about a week or two of high school Latin. I'm not sure there's much value in this.

 

It seems to be partly expectations and 'necessity'....since there is no necessity driving the path, if students are out of energy, expectations are lowered (or never raised)....

 

 

The exception to this is our one Spanish immersion elementary school. These kids really learn Spanish. However, our school district is currently wringing their collective hands because these kids have lower Math and English scores than their non-immersed peers, so they are talking about cancelling the program.

 

Now this is interesting too...there is an article about gains from bilingualism...but I think it must be from bilingualism where the home is one language and the world is another (or similar - not immersion classes)....where other classroom expectations aren't lowered for the sake of the language....

 

The thing that has always bothered me about 'immersion' classrooms is that all the students are generally not native speakers, which would mean that their vocabulary, while it can grow over the years, would not be that of a native person....The kids are surrounded by kids who also don't speak well. I know that when I was trying to just speak French to my ds2 after he was born, I was quite restricted in conversation because I just didn't have all the vocab necessary....

 

I've been thinking about this thread a lot this week. I think one reason why the US has often lagged in teaching foreign language is because they are putting so much effort into teaching students English.

 

I agree that there are a lot of people who don't speak English properly, even after graduating from high school...

 

Since I don't watch TV in the US when there, can someone tell me if they are speaking proper English on TV or not?

 

It has always boggled my mind how that is possible; after all, the family must actively resist the language of the country and create a negative attitude towards it to prevent the kids from acquiring it by simple immersion. I sent my kids who knew no single word of English to an English preschool for a few hours a day, and within a few months they spoke at the level of their English same age peers, without any practice at home.

 

I think a lot depends on the attitudes of both parents...if they embrace the new language - even if not speaking it properly....their support of the children in learning that language, etc....I imagine that different cultural groups have different statistics about this.....

 

Joan

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I had another thought, which I did not want to tag on to my other reply:

 

I am finding the educational philosophy in the US to be very different from the one in Western Europe.

 

I think this is also an area where it is hard to talk about American education as

Monolith. We don't have different types of schools based in abilities and goals. Many aren't even that comfortable with tracking within a building or classroom.

 

There are areas where education is prized because that is what people of value do. We live in such and area. The kids learning languages may well spend time abroad using them. But that is a subset of students within a well funded well organized district. There are certainly students who dwell in the realm of "will this be on the test?"

 

Where I grew up, foreign language was indeed presented as part of a well-rounded education. Those who were oriented towards college were expected to start in 7th grade with grammar-based instruction. I remember even at that level struggling through conjugations of verbs, doing long translations, and being graded on pronounciation including memorizing poems, giving speeches, etc. The 7th-8th grade levels were equivalent to the high school 9th grade level, so you could potentially graduate with five years of high school study. They strongly encouraged at least three years. And national tests, regional competitions, and AP exams were the norm.

 

In contrast, here it is presented as an "elective" and from all that I've heard is more "fun language." A lot of it is cultural knowledge, and the grammar is minimal. Exams are often open book, and one Spanish teacher told me that "oral practice didn't matter as long as you can communicate." The classes don't take any of the national exams, and AP-level instruction is infreqent. The Latin teacher told me that she hasn't offered AP Latin in five years. Obviously not a priority.

 

To all three of you - I really want to start another thread about the differences in educational philosophy in Europe and the US...but am going away again in a couple of days, so will do so next week. This is something I've been thinking a lot about lately and am really looking forward to discussing!

 

Joan

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Since I don't watch TV in the US when there, can someone tell me if they are speaking proper English on TV or not?

 

 

Probably depends on the show... all the shows we are watching have the main characters speak proper English.

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Putting these together since I forgot to get cathmom's into that other post...

 

A lot of this is the change in language teaching over the last couple decades though. I took a grad course in teaching foreign languages in 2007 and the party line is communicative, communicative, communicative. Every speech act must be an authentic act of communication. Memorizing dialogues? Not real communication. Grammar instruction? Not the way language should be taught. Etc. Some of this I agree with - methods popular in the 60s and 70s were not necessarily effective. However, during the class I went to my daughter's ballet class and watched them at the barre and they were not making each movement an authentic act of dance - they were practicing and practicing so that they would have the building blocks and the muscle memory to be able to dance well later. I try to combine both elements in my teaching, and yes, I do try to also make it fun and relevant. :tongue_smilie:

 

Somehow it seems that some language programs in Europe are managing to do both....it is partly if the teacher really knows the language, partly if it is a very good foreign language program, but also partly a cultural attitude towards the foreign language I think...in the French speaking part of Switzerland - people generally have a negative attitude about German. (Of course it doesn't help at all that when they go to the German speaking part of Switzerland that the locals don't like to speak to them in German because they really prefer Swiss German)...

 

So even though they are studying German for so many years...so far, their level is not that great by the end of obligatory schooling...Parents have to make an effort to get them to live in Germany for a linguistic sejour - but lots of parents don't do that...

 

No. There is a push towards this, but of course the high performing states want to keep their standards, and the low performing states object.

 

 

That is probably be correct, but even then, that would only be one year.

 

One crucial difference is the level of teacher training: in Germany, a biology teacher has studied biology and a physics teacher has studied physics at the university - a teacher without this training will not be teaching the subject. Not like stories I hear from my students here where the bio teacher taught physics and had to skip the chapter on angular momentum because she did not understand the concept.

 

That gave me a laugh about skipping the chapter! Though it is sad...

 

I think this is true about teacher training....

 

With all these low standards - why is it that American universities have such a good reputation? or is it only some of them really? You must have some perspective on this regentrude...

 

Joan

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I am so glad that you posted this thread and that I did some research on our district. I am now shocked! I now know that neighboring districts do offer some foreign language in elementary school but ours does not. The only foreign language offered in Middle school is a course called "World Languages Exploratory" where they are taught a smattering of French, German, Japanese and Spanish with the goal of the students being able to choose a language for high school. Foreign language is not a graduation requirement. It is, however, an admission requirement for our state university.

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With all these low standards - why is it that American universities have such a good reputation? or is it only some of them really? You must have some perspective on this regentrude...

 

 

There are excellent universities in the US, and then there are mediocre ones, and then there are substandard ones. the top ones are outstanding; the worst ones would not deserve the title of a university in Europe.

 

The main strength I see about the US university system, especially compared to the German one: universities select their own students.

This means that elite universities can evolve which select only the highest performing students. Having high performing students in turn allows the university to attract the best faculty, which makes the university further attractive to capable students. For faculty attraction, the quality of the graduate students is crucial. (I work at a state university which attracts many bright undergraduates because it is less expensive for them to come here; the quality of the grad students, however, is a problem, and this would be the number one motivation for the best professors to leave and go elsewhere.) Once you have great faculty, they will get grants, money and reputation, and so on.

But I firmly believe that it starts with student selection: you cannot have outstanding universities if you do not apply strict admission standards.

Equally capable professors at universities with less capable or less prepared students will be able to teach them less, will have less capable graduate students to assist with reserach (to the point that it is a time loss for the prof to even have grad students), and will thus produce fewer high profile publications, which attracts less funding, which means he has less quality research equipment.... you get the idea.

 

One feature about the US college landscape that I like is the diversity: there will be a school for every level of student - starting from community college, over lower state schools, flagship public and private universities to Ivies.

In contrast, in Germany passing the Abitur, even with a low GPA, guarantees a student entry into any university of his choice - with few exceptions for selected high demand majors where they have to apply for admission through a centralized system (medicine for example). This means that universities can not really develop a profile and a differentiation, because they are required by law to admit anybody who passed the exam. They are not even allowed to limit enrollment if their capacity is exceeded. A very bad system.

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I am so glad that you posted this thread and that I did some research on our district. I am now shocked!

 

Jean, I'm curious - which part shocked you? That neighboring districts offered elementary level? or?

 

The main strength I see about the US university system, especially compared to the German one: universities select their own students.

 

I see this is also getting into the Educational Philosophy domain..so I'm going to hijack these and the other posts above over to a new thread next week.....it is all very thought provoking....

 

In contrast, in Germany passing the Abitur, even with a low GPA, guarantees a student entry into any university of his choice - with few exceptions for selected high demand majors where they have to apply for admission through a centralized system (medicine for example). This means that universities can not really develop a profile and a differentiation, because they are required by law to admit anybody who passed the exam. They are not even allowed to limit enrollment if their capacity is exceeded. A very bad system.

 

This is the same as in Switzerland...but here, the failure rate the first year is very high. That is their means of selecting....Do they do that in Germany too?

 

Thanks,

Joan

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Jean, I'm curious - which part shocked you? That neighboring districts offered elementary level? or?

 

 

That our district didn't offer anything at the elementary level. And that they offered next to nothing at the middle school level. Now I know why everyone is so shocked that my kids started Latin in 3rd grade - it's not just about it being Latin but studying any foreign language. . .

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That our district didn't offer anything at the elementary level. And that they offered next to nothing at the middle school level. Now I know why everyone is so shocked that my kids started Latin in 3rd grade - it's not just about it being Latin but studying any foreign language. . .

 

Oh, interesting....People probably don't realize what is being offered in other districts either...I don't remember knowing much about other school districts except whatever sports facilities they had due to having matches and meets at other schools.....Maybe it depends on how much parents are talking to parents of kids in other districts...and parents who choose a district for educational reasons rather than work, etc reasons would be more aware of the choices....

 

I've been surprised by the number of districts that are offering FL at the elementary and Jr. Hi level, even though this is a small poll and I see that lots of children aren't actually doing FL even if it is offered...that there are places doing it shows interest at least....

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I've been surprised by the number of districts that are offering FL at the elementary and Jr. Hi level, even though this is a small poll and I see that lots of children aren't actually doing FL even if it is offered...that there are places doing it shows interest at least....

 

However, remember that the poll doesn't specify how many kids are allowed into the FL classes. I chose the option that FL is offered in elementary, junior, and high school. BUT, it is only available to approximately 50 out of 1150 kids per grade in K-7 (a dual immersion program). 8th Grade it is available only to those with above average reading scores. 9th-12th graders must use one of their scarce elective credits.

 

Yeah, it's offered. But the school district makes it darn hard to access.

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One feature about the US college landscape that I like is the diversity: there will be a school for every level of student - starting from community college, over lower state schools, flagship public and private universities to Ivies.

 

 

I agree with the whole post, but wanted to add that there is more diversity than this. We also have high, medium, and low options of Universities (complete with research and advanced degrees) and Liberal Arts Colleges (some have a little bit of research - others do none - both focus mainly on the teaching at a college level). There are pros and cons of each type. My oldest is in an LAC. Middle chose smaller sized Research U. Either path can lead to grad school/med school/jobs.

 

An important deal for us as guidance counselors is to match our students well to maximize their education and potential. While many colleges are reasonably similar, any two can be VERY different. The same student could be overchallenged, thrive, or be bored pending their school of choice. I've seen the results of all three with students where I work. It leads me to putting in a lot of hours researching schools based upon what my boys decide they want. (Then too, I need to add the financial aspect to it all.)

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However, remember that the poll doesn't specify how many kids are allowed into the FL classes. I chose the option that FL is offered in elementary, junior, and high school. BUT, it is only available to approximately 50 out of 1150 kids per grade in K-7 (a dual immersion program). 8th Grade it is available only to those with above average reading scores. 9th-12th graders must use one of their scarce elective credits.

 

Yeah, it's offered. But the school district makes it darn hard to access.

 

Heather, I completely agree that it is not easy in the US to get FL - consistently at any age - it seems. Even if you move to a school district where they are doing immersion, there is the story of them then possibly stopping it, and then other stories of them stopping FL in primary and middle school as well...

 

This will be good to discuss in the educational philosophy differences thread - soon to be started....:)

 

Joan

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