Communication Across the Nation
February 16, 2018
The only reason anyone would be able to read the words that have been typed is through a language shared between the author and the reader. If anyone were to read this, they would more likely than not, speak English and have the ability to read English. Language is essential to the human race, and the way they have taken part in cultures is monumental. Students at Waukee High School would benefit from learning other languages in order to communicate with other parts of the world, and not limit themselves to just one part of the Earth. The idea of educating students with a second language (German or Spanish at WHS) is not new, but many believe that implementing lessons from younger ages would be beneficial.
“The thing is there’s research behind it that talks about how it’s better for a student’s brain and a child’s brain when you introduce a language at a younger age. It’s easier for a student who then studies a language later on, officially saying it for high school or even in college,” explained WHS Spanish teacher, Heidi Bibler. This is her third year teaching, and her third year teaching at the high school. Bibler agrees with the concept that language should be introduced from a younger age and comments, “That has been one of my beliefs since forever ago, since way way back in time.” According to an article published by The Indepent, written by Monika Schmid, “there are many reasons why languages are easier to learn from a younger age.”
“Children can spend more time and effort on learning than adults who have many competing demands; the motivation for children to fit in is much higher, and the habits of pronunciation and grammar of their first language are less deeply ingrained and thus easier to overcome. And, of course, all learning gets harder with age. None of these factors have anything to do with a specific critical period for learning languages, but all of them do make younger learners of a new language eventually outperform older ones,” the article explains. Schmid, along with a few other colleagues produced a study using brain scans and ‘innovative statistical methods.’ She writes, “new research published by my colleagues and me…does indeed suggest that our capacity to learn a language diminishes gradually over our lives.” Studies like these have encouraged many school districts to up their language departments, and improve existing programs.
Bibler described her spanish education as the following, “officially I started studying spanish in high school and it was my junior year…but spanish in the exploratory spanish class in 7th grade, it just wasn’t a super super high interest for me. Then I had a sister who studied spanish so I would get some vocab and things like that from before I actually took it in high school…so that was let’s see sophomore year for me was 2007 so about ten years now almost eleven that i’ve been studying it [spanish].” Bibler went to high school at Johnston, and the language program she describes is one very similar to many schools around the area. One of them is Waukee, starting with a World Languages class in sixth grade, and moving on to an exploratory class in seventh grade. From there, pupils can enroll in Spanish, or German classes and continue to pursue the class throughout high school. Although the programs set in place are much better than schools with no language program, Waukee continues to use the same programs they set in place ten years ago. Bibler suggests something she saw while finishing her teachers licence in college, “There would be a spanish teacher that went in throughout the school throughout the classes and did just basic 20 min lessons and I think that’s something that, 20 min it’s not taking up your whole day it’s not taking up a huge huge amount of time that wouldn’t be able to be managed.” She continues, “in that little way we can expose students at an earlier age to simple context and simple things. Maybe at a higher levels like middle school we can do…once a week or twice a week something similar, something a little more advanced for that level and