Recently school board members from Will County School District 92 met to debate the importance of earlier exposure to foreign language training. Proponents of the issue agreed that providing opportunities for children in elementary school to become fluent in a foreign language, in addition to English, would benefit them later in life.
Research has revealed that children who are exposed to another language from an early age tend to retain it and are better able to learn other languages. One school board member used her son as an example.
Despite six years of Spanish classes under his belt, he still was unable to speak it. She believes that had he encountered these classes at an earlier age, and not begun them in high school, he would have had a better chance at fluency.
She also cited that the United States was among the few countries to not require proficiency in a language other than English.
While the district superintendent agreed with the idea, other school board members stood opposed. They believed that more importance should be placed on math and science and that funding for an early foreign language program would do little to bolster children as they prepare for the job market.
One board member, who also owns his own business, stated that he had little use for someone who was fluent in French but would see someone with strong math and science skills as an asset to his company.
Should elementary schools enforce a mandatory foreign language curriculum? Would money allocated for this program be more useful for math and science enrichment?