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Compulsory language lessons for new generations.

As an avid language-learner myself, I often question why my peers are so disinterested in the art of learning a foreign language. From beginning my secondary school it was complusory to learn either French or Spanish for the first two years. After that we were given an option to continue the course or drop it … many of who dropped.

Despite being British, I believe that the majority of native English speakers are quite lazy and closed to the idea of learning another language seeing as English is the most popular language to learn as a second language. Therefore I open this topic: should it be compulsory for young children (mainly in English-speaking countries) to be continuously taught a different language until their education is complete or should there still be choice in whether they continue or stop?

Both options offer positives and negatives, but which has more that can sustainably affect the development of the future generations’ prospects and opportunities?

  • Excellent topic. I also think it would be worthy to look at how other countries approach learning languages. For instance, almost everyone in Scandinavian countries have English as a second language. I also think it's fascinating that mostly English speaking countries avoid learning a second language or it's done poorly (perhaps a reminent of colonialism? Since English became a global language and English-speaking individuals aren't as limited to communicating around the world?). As a Canadian, I can say that although French is mandatory in elementary, they do a terrible job of teaching it. Most kids get sick of learning it, since after so many years you can barley hold a conversation. – Pamela Maria 2 years ago
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  • I think it is also important to discuss here the issue in taking second languages seriously from a curriculum view - that too often there is one year of this, then one year of that, etc. so that no depth or opportunity to develop is really offered. I would also offer that as part of this is why not mainstream foreign films more fully. Or better yet on TV. I know some shows in America are making more of an effort to use Spanish as part of the show without subtitling it, pretty much to say "hey you should know this." I liked that in Firefly Whedon did this with Mandarin. – SaraiMW 2 years ago
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  • This is interesting. In Canada those in English school must learn french starting in grade 4, while those in French school must learn English. I went to a full french school but was already fluent in English since I lived in southern Ontario. One thing I noticed is that although my anglophones friends had been learning french for most of their lives, their french skills sucked, they couldn't keep up in a conversation to save their lives. Yet if you flip it and go to Quebec, they all have at least conversational English skills or they are completely fluent. It always seems to me that although both language are official languages, English is more important and valued so despite the fact that anglophones students should be fluent in English they aren't. It seems to me that English systems don't put nearly as much effort into learning a second language since it isn't a necessity compared to a french speaker needing to learn English. It would be interesting to see how other countries who have two official languages go about teaching the language and see why there is such an imbalance, most likely because of the value placed in one language over the other. – tmtonji 2 years ago
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