Growing Number of Students Study Foreign Language in Shrinking World

By Larson, Kristin | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), March 8, 1998 | Go to article overview

Growing Number of Students Study Foreign Language in Shrinking World


Larson, Kristin, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Kristin Larson Daily Herald Staff Writer

Like many students, Stevenson High School junior Eric Tetauer checks his e-mail every day.

He receives about 10 to 12 messages a day - all from Germany.

Tetauer is one of many students studying German at the Lincolnshire school who participates in the trans-Atlantic classroom - e-mailing students his age across the Atlantic, and teaming up on class projects.

"It's cool because we have assignments that we have to write in German, and e-mailing helps with everyday use of grammar," Tetauer said.

It's all part of what Illinois education officials say is a booming interest throughout the state in the study of foreign languages.

"In general, the school population is going down and yet the count of students taking foreign language is going up," said Paul Griffith, executive director of the Illinois Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

In a world that is shrinking - thanks to fast-paced technology - educators stress the practical benefits of learning another language. Those benefits range from improving students' math and reading scores to opening up job possibilities to understanding other cultures.

"The study of foreign language is a tool to understand international cultures," said Melaney Reed, foreign language coordinator at Wauconda High School.

For the first time, the new Illinois goals and learning standards now include foreign language as optional standards. This means foreign language study is grouped along with English and language arts, mathematics, science, social science, physical development and health and fine arts.

"This really acknowledges there's a definite change in the world in which we live today," Griffith said.

Still, high school graduation doesn't require students to take a foreign language, although at least two years is suggested for college-bound students.

While Latin was popular a couple generations ago, Spanish is the most popular language among American high school students today, followed by French. …

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