How to start a foreign language program
Exposure to a second language is more crucial than ever. Find out how to start a Spanish, French, Chinese, or other foreign language program at your child's school.
By Alice Chen
A bon mot (A good word)
What helps children boost everything from math skills to standardized tests scores? Mais oui, it’s learning a foreign language. Understanding even the basics of another language increases cognitive skills and equips children in an increasingly interconnected world (and is especially helpful in a country where minorities will soon be the majority) . While many districts have language programs at the middle and high school level, it's better to start even earlier: Research suggests the window for language learning really blossoms starting at birth and begins to shrink by middle school.
If you want to introduce a foreign language program at your child’s school, the first step is to spread the word. Talk to teachers, parents, and the principal, and tell everyone about the link between learning a second language and high test scores. Terry Caccavale, a K-12 foreign language coordinator who successfully started a Spanish language program in the Holliston, Massachusetts elementary schools, says this will help you build a strong case, especially in an environment of tight purse strings and budget cuts. In addition to sharing this story, two great sites to help you make the case are American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages and Ñandutí.