Some Advice to the American Education System

Multicultural Harmony by Sara 10, Zehra 12, Ayla 11

Image from www.funkorchildart.com

Here in the U.S. we all know the education system could use some work. We have high dropout rates and a general lack of enthusiasm about learning and self-improvement throughout our country. It’s a picture that would make anyone cynical. One of the biggest boats I think we’ve missed here in the U.S. is the lack of language and culture education in our teaching systems. I’ve been working on getting a bilingual education certification along with my teaching certificate, so I’ve been studying how our country stacks up against countries like Germany, Canada, Finland and Nigeria in the education department. I must say after some research, I’m quite disappointed that our great country is so far behind, and so detached from the rest of the world culturally. We’re supposed to be the melting pot. We should embody those values and embrace other cultures instead of putting our faith in assimilation and pretending the U.S. is the only country in the world like we seem to do. I think our education system is suffering and even failing in many areas because of it.

Apparently, according to my study materials and personal research, students in Germany are commonly educated in French, English, Spanish and Dutch as well as their native language. Students in China and Japan also study English. Students in Luxembourg study French and German along with their native language, Luxembourgish. Through Canada’s immersion programs, students are educated in English and French, and encouraged to learn about different cultures and develop true bilingualism or multilingualism as opposed to having a majority and minority language. In Nigeria, students are taught in English along with another national language such as Hausa, Ibo, or Yoruba. In Singapore, they teach English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. And the examples go on and on. And here in the U.S., students are taught in English only, usually. Why don’t we teach more languages and offer more immersion programs in our public schools? Why don’t we encourage multiculturalism and multilingualism more than we do? Especially in small school districts like the one where I work, we scrape by the requirements by offering a Spanish class here and there. But most of the students get through the classes and never actually learn the language. We seem to have a prevailing opinion here in the U.S. that English is the only important language to know and our own culture is the only one we need to learn about. I’m sure education in our country would greatly improve if we could get out of this mindset.

I know I need to study more on this to get my facts straight, but so far it looks pretty disappointing for us Americans. We tend to force assimilation without meaning to. When a kid comes from another country and enrolls in one of our schools what do we usually do? We want to teach the kid English and Americanize him. We unwittingly try to blot out another native culture and replace it with our own. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with learning English of course, because I know if you live in the U.S. English is the prominent language and it will be much more convenient for you if you know it pretty well. But I don’t believe in an “official language” for our country. I see us as a country that was built on diversity, and I think we should embrace it in all things, especially in education and language. What if, in our schools, we learned from people who immigrated from other countries instead of trying to make them learn from us only? We could really make some progress.

“One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.” ‒ Frank Smith (voxy.com)

Sources and resources:

In Germany, the Future is Bilingual: http://www.dw.de/in-germany-the-future-is-bilingual/a-15401189

Cambridge and Bilingual Education in Europe: http://www.cie.org.uk/docs/qualifications/bilingual_education/Bilingual%20Ed%20factsheet%20v3.pdf

Texas A&M Bilingual Education Certification Course Materials

All original content copyright S.D. de la Rosa, 2013.

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~ by Sara on March 4, 2013.

4 Responses to “Some Advice to the American Education System”

  1. This is a fantastic post! Thank you for shinning light on this important issue. Our diversity makes us interesting and should be embraced. it’s a shame some in the US do not see it that way.

    • Thank you! You’re right, and unfortunately a lot of times it’s our educational and political leaders who don’t see it that way. We definitely have a ways to go.

  2. A nice post! Teaching another language is a good thing indeed. The problem that I can see is which one? For other countries, they see English language is a must know for an obvious reason. For the countries where English is the language of the nation or the native language then I think the motivation is not clear.

    • Yes you’re right, that’s true. Most of us English-speaking Americans hardly ever even need another language. And that in itself is a shame. We usually don’t make much of a point to study and understand people from other parts of the world. Only what’s absolutely obligatory.

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