Learning foreign language in middle school

March 28, 2010 5:52:55 AM PDT
Most students take foreign language classes in school. Few ever really master it, but a program on Long Island is helping students get a jump start on learning a different language and study it for years.

Every student in the middle school Chinese language class chose to be there.

"It's a lot of fun," student Maya Desai said. "It's different from anything I've ever learned, so it's interesting."

In the Herricks, Long Island, School District, the kids are expected to master the language.

"I would like them to be able to go to China and understand people and be able to get around, and also just be able to develop a great love for the Chinese language and the culture," teacher Elizabeth Yu Ellsworth said.

Students and their families are asked to choose a foreign language before they enter middle school, which they will study into their high school years.

The middle schoolers also take very progressive language courses in French, Spanish and Italian, spanning their three years Herricks. Chinese is considered one of the most important languages they could learn.

"Parents are very interested in having their kids study Chinese. I think that it is something that they see as different and sets them apart so when they apply for college, it's something that sets them apart and sets them apart in the business world," Herricks language chairperson Dr. Lori Langer de Ramirez said.

The study of Chinese is actively encouraged in schools by the cultural organization called the Asia Society.

"Mutually learning each other's language and culture, way of life, understanding each other's perspectives really help in the future in all kinds of collaborations," said Jeff Wang.

Educators in Herricks feel all their language programs will give students a more global view of the world.