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my little pony
10-03-2011, 08:38 PM
:rofl: My bil has a minor in Sanskrit.

he's the lone candle in our dark world, bless him

julieann
10-03-2011, 08:44 PM
I am not from USA, but I would want to comment the topic of language teaching in USA.

If I am not mistaken, most of the students in USA start a second language in high school. From biological stand point that is way too late. We are much more adapt for learning languages before puberty. Basically, it is the earlier the better.

Yes, you are mistaken with saying most, In my experiences the schools I attend had you start in 6th grade. My kids, who go to a different state than I did started in jr high. Obviously this will vary greatly by any of the 50 states you ask; but to say most is painting many of the states (and one diverse country) with a very large brush.

PS it's never too late to learn a new language if you set your mind to it, and I find it easier to learn as I get older, because I want to.

milanessa
10-03-2011, 09:00 PM
he's the lone candle in our dark world, bless him

Yes, he's a real beacon.

Here's his book, I'm sure he'd appreciate you buying it. :D

http://www.amazon.com/Asura-Early-Vedic-Religion-Edward/dp/8120800613

Karina1974
10-03-2011, 09:09 PM
My niece, now 34, is now very interested in the history of the Middle East and is doing a "redo" again focusing on the interconnections between religion and availability of natural resources.


Reminds me of my own delving into the history of WWII of late. I've learned far more about WWII history just from watching The Winds of War and War and Remembrance - I am going to tackle the books next (which could get interesting, because the books belong to my dad and HE'S thinking about reading them soon!), as well as the many movies and documentaries my dad has on the subject (he's a walking encyclopedia of WWII) - than I ever learned in school. They probably figured we'd all just go home and ask our grandparents about it. They never taught us about the Lend-Lease Program (so much for US neutrality and "not getting involved" before Pearl Harbor!), or Babi Yar, or Theresianstadt. The most I EVER heard about the Jews and the Holocaust in school, outside of reading the play about Anne Frank in 8th grade English - and the teacher was Jewish herself - ironically was from my 4th grade teacher, and I can't remember HOW she even got onto the subject!, but it was the first time I ever remember hearing about it. I also never remember hearing about the battles of the war in the Pacific.

My father is really pushing me to learn about this because a) I had a grandfather who served in the US Army in Guam during WWII and b) as he and I share a Jewish ancestry (from his father's family), and my mother also had family in Norway who lived through the occupation, this IS part of my history.

taf2002
10-03-2011, 09:57 PM
Of course I am much older than you but I learned a lot about WW2 in HS, like the lend-lease program, Babi Yar, the Occupation in Scandinavia, the Low Countries, & France, the war in North Africa, etc. I can't ever remember being told to ask our fathers. All the men I knew who were in the war never wanted to talk about it. One of my college roommates was a senior in HS before she knew her father had been on the death march in the Phillipines. Maybe baby-boomers were taught more about it & about the Korean War because they had been so recent.

My father served on Guam too & Okinawa.

Japanfan
10-03-2011, 10:29 PM
This statement is actually pretty insulting. When Sochi was announced, I'm sure a lot of people (including me) had to look up where that was. I'm confident that very few if any Americans had to look up Vancouver.


Well, the insult isn't mine. My experience traveling in the US - and to some extent meeting Americans elsewhere in the world - has been that people we've met don't know my city. You chat with people a lot when you're traveling and they commonly ask where you are from. If they don't know, they'll ask about it. When this happened in Northern California, it's been a real surprise because Vancouver is not so far away.



If someone started a thread stating how ignorant Canadians or Russians are, it would not be acceptable, but you can say anything you want about Americans.


Plenty of people have no issue criticizing their education system. For example, given that Canada is a bilingual country I think it is a tragic and hypocritical oversight that French isn't mandatory from Grade 1 on in Canada. I would love to speak French but we have French class my school until Grade 10. The teacher was an Anglophone and I'm poor at languages, so I didn't continue on in French.

Mozart
10-04-2011, 03:41 AM
I grew up in Ottawa and we did have french classes starting early in elementary, not grade 10 but that could have been because of how close we were to Quebec.

I am a one subject elementary teacher (music/band) and my school has 2 other specialists (PE/computers and Mi'kmaq) but we are a federally run on reserve school not a provincially run school board school. Oh, and BTW ll three of us are qualified to be an all subject classroom teacher.

cygnus
10-04-2011, 04:51 AM
Plenty of people have no issue criticizing their education system. For example, given that Canada is a bilingual country I think it is a tragic and hypocritical oversight that French isn't mandatory from Grade 1 on in Canada. I would love to speak French but we have French class my school until Grade 10. The teacher was an Anglophone and I'm poor at languages, so I didn't continue on in French.

My kids ( both now college age) started French in Junior kindergarten (age 4) in Ontario schools. I think that's standard around here. My son went into French immersion at age 5, and stayed in it until high School. He was quite fluent when he graduated, but I don't know how good he is now, as he rarely uses it.

Now in University he's taking Ancient Greek and Latin as his optional arts courses (he wanted to avoid essay writing)- so we'll see how much use he gets out of those. ;);)

jlai
10-04-2011, 05:09 AM
IMO, the point of teaching things like foreign languages, calculus, literature and criticism, world history, physics, etc is not because most people will use any of that in their adult lives. Rather it's bc when someone eventually chooses a career path, they will have the necessary skill sets to effectively pursue that. It's very difficult to become an electrical engineer if the only math you've had when you enter college is beginning algebra. It's difficult to become a social studies teacher if when you enter college you've never been exposed to history courses other than the US. Other countries address this issue by tracking students from 10-14 yo. In the US, we try to keep students' options open until they reach college. But that will necessarily mean learning a lot in different areas that one won't make use of much as an adult. But the flipside is that gives students more flexibility to switch paths as adults should they so desire.

Excellent point. :respec:

I will say that the variation among schools, while tailoring to different needs, makes coordination of skill teaching very difficult. Even in the same school district (or the same school), tehre's a lot of left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. I mean the high school near where I'm currently living now doesn't talk to the middle school much in terms of telling the middle school to teach the skills kids need for high school (e.g. organization skills and such). You'd think they will coordinate a bit better but they don't. Middle schools are so busy prepping kids to pass the state exams.

Nekatiivi
10-04-2011, 08:50 AM
Yes, you are mistaken with saying most, In my experiences the schools I attend had you start in 6th grade. My kids, who go to a different state than I did started in jr high. Obviously this will vary greatly by any of the 50 states you ask; but to say most is painting many of the states (and one diverse country) with a very large brush.

PS it's never too late to learn a new language if you set your mind to it, and I find it easier to learn as I get older, because I want to.

I apologize if I offended you. Of course I am not an expert in what comes to American schools but I am well aware of your nations lack of ability to speak any other languages in general. I had heard before that it was because Americans start so late but I see now that that is not the only problem. Greatest reason seems to be the lack of will to put effort on that department and that is easy to understand, given the lingua franca status of English.

Someone asked why people are always criticize education in USA. To be honest it is rather easy as some of the most ignorant people you meet are Americans. And I do understand that that is partly because Americans have way more extroverted social conduct than most of the cultures, so you get to interact with them more. I have also met great and wise and educated Americans and I would love to study my field in American universities where the top research in my field is done.

Education in USA is not what I am passionate about, it is the neural development of brain. I it just difficult for me to understand why people don't take advantage of amazing linguistic abilities of developing brains. And given the advantages being bilingual gives I would not want to be left outside. If I could decide every kid would start learning a second language at the age of 3. :lol:

kia_4EverOnIce
10-04-2011, 09:59 AM
Someone asked why people are always criticize education in USA. To be honest it is rather easy as some of the most ignorant people you meet are Americans. And I do understand that that is partly because Americans have way more extroverted social conduct than most of the cultures, so you get to interact with them more. I have also met great and wise and educated Americans and I would love to study my field in American universities where the top research in my field is done.

I agree with you on that. From the outside, I feel that US schools are very good for practical skills, less for notion and that there is a very big difference between undergrad schools and universities (that are often on the top of their fields, worldwide speaking).


If I could decide every kid would start learning a second language at the age of 3. :lol:

I started English at 4, and I agree it's definetely easy not only for knowing a second language, but also to obtain that sort of multilingual "skill" that make it easy to learn also other languages later (when I studied French or German, I was older but I had no difficulties, given that I was already trained to change between my native language and English)


Now in University he's taking Ancient Greek and Latin as his optional arts courses (he wanted to avoid essay writing)- so we'll see how much use he gets out of those. ;);)

Perhaps not a lot of use, but he'll love those! (I studied them too and it's great!)

allezfred
10-04-2011, 10:28 AM
Yes, because so many nations import foreigners to teach their schools, right?

I wouldn't say import, but with freedom of movement in the EU there are opportunities for teachers to work in the school system of another country.

Then there's:

JET Programme (http://www.jetprogramme.org/) (Japan)

Similar programmes operate in Korea and China as well, I believe.


Conversely, learning an indigenous language will help you even more with other languages. If you can learn an indigenous language, you can learn anything :cool:. Shouldn't we be doing that instead considering how many Native languages are on the brink of extinction?

I think learning any language is beneficial to the acquisition of other languages. :)


Greatest reason seems to be the lack of will to put effort on that department and that is easy to understand, given the lingua franca status of English.


I think this is a problem for most countries where the official language is English. Even though in Ireland we learn Irish as well as English starting in primary school and a modern language is a requirement for most university courses, we aren't much better at foreign languages than the US or the UK. It's just that everybody else speaks English so well. ;)

You just have to look at FSU to see that most of the non-native English speakers here are a lot more coherent and eloquent in their posts than some native speakers. :shuffle:

Prancer
10-04-2011, 11:34 AM
I apologize if I offended you.

I believe that what you said IS correct--most American students do begin to study foreign languages in high school. But there is a lot of variation out there, as I am sure you've figured out by now :lol:


From the outside, I feel that US schools are very good for practical skills, less for notion

What do you mean by notion? Theory?


and that there is a very big difference between undergrad schools and universities

What IS the difference between undergrad schools and universities? Or more to the point, what do you mean by "undergrad schools?" That's not a term we use here; the first thing that comes to my mind would be a college, but I don't think that's what you mean. Junior college, maybe?

I wouldn't say our universities are often on top of the world,. Some of them absolutely are, but there are thousands of universities and colleges in the US, and they are just like all our other schools--they range from sublime to ridiculous.

I think the US education system in general is hard for non-US citizens to understand, because there is so little uniformity, and that applies at all levels. It's all part of our evil plan to completely befuddle our poor international students.


I wouldn't say import, but with freedom of movement in the EU there are opportunities for teachers to work in the school system of another country.

There are teachers from other countries who work in the US, too--there just aren't nearly enough of them to cover the foreign language needs of the schools here, and a lot of them aren't particularly interested in teaching languages, anyway. Or perhaps to be more accurate, it isn't language teachers who are sought for exchange programs.

kia_4EverOnIce
10-04-2011, 12:08 PM
What do you mean by notion? Theory?

yes, sorry. AFAIK, US schools have a lot of laboratory's activities, but less "traditional lecture", like studying literature/history on books, remembering tons of dates or facts. So, I think it's better on the practical aspect, but it's worse considering general knowledge (of history/geography/literature).


What IS the difference between undergrad schools and universities? Or more to the point, what do you mean by "undergrad schools?"

I mean all the education before college and university, that's to say the schools everyone attends (considering that not all the people then go to college, and so their education comes from primary and high school)


It's all part of our evil plan to completely befuddle our poor international students.

As an international student who has thought about joining a US university, I'd say that your university fees are enough to befuddle me :D


it isn't language teachers who are sought for exchange programs.

As for Europe, in most of our high schools (14-18/19 y.o. pupils) there is a native speaker for each of the languages taught in the school, with the specific purpose of collaborate with languages teacher (as teaching assistant, especially for pronunciation skills).
And it's also a great experience for young Arts and Languages graduates because, through this exchange program, you get the chance to live abroad at least a year and teach your own language (and sometimes literature), but on the other hand you're also not completely alone since the local language teacher could be a sort of tutor (and so you build up also teaching experience).

Prancer
10-04-2011, 12:54 PM
yes, sorry. AFAIK, US schools have a lot of laboratory's activities, but less "traditional lecture",

Hmm. I don't know that I would agree with that. Lecture is not considered a particularly effective teaching method, but it is the easiest way to cover a lot of material very quickly, so it is still very common and I believe is still the most common method of instruction at all levels.


I mean all the education before college and university, that's to say the schools everyone attends (considering that not all the people then go to college, and so their education comes from primary and high school)

The term "undergrad" here refers to the first four years of college. If you are working on a bachelor's degree, you are an undergrad. :)

Most of us refer to the schools you attend before college as K-12. And there aren't always big differences between, say, high school and college, at least not for the first couple of years. It depends on how rigorous your high school was versus how rigorous your college is.

Again, a complicated issue. :)


As an international student who has thought about joining a US university, I'd say that your university fees are enough to befuddle me :D

That's okay--they befuddle us, too :lol:.


As for Europe, in most of our high schools (14-18/19 y.o. pupils) there is a native speaker for each of the languages taught in the school

One thing we haven't discussed in this thread is the issue of native speaker presence. The most popular foreign languages in US schools are Spanish, French, and German, although Chinese is coming on strong. Since immigration from Western European countries is severely restricted, we don't often run into native French and German speakers, and the Spanish speakers here are usually Mexican or Central American, so the Spanish many students learn in class isn't quite what Spanish-speakers here actually speak--similar, but with a lot of different idiom.

I had a German student last year who broke down and cried in class on the first day because she so desperately wanted to speak German to someone. She was convinced she was the only German speaker for hundreds of miles. Things weren't quite that dire :lol:, but she wasn't very likely to casually run into another German speaker.

That lack of normal, everyday conversational opportunities really limits how fluent our students will ever be. Foreign language is mostly a classroom subject here, just like any other, and is often treated the same way--learn enough to pass the test and then forget it.