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Lost in Translation

Time for district to expand language options

Kaitlyn Vana, Editor-in-chief

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It’s time for Celina ISD to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of their department for Languages Other Than English (LOTE). There is  a firm distinction between America and nearly the entire rest of the world (Europe and Asia predominantly). In our geographical isolation we often find ourselves underestimating the importance of learning foreign languages, rationalizing that the only practical need for it would be if one were a frequent traveller. This is not the case.

America in general handles foreign language classes inefficiently, a fact that can be seen especially here at home. Celina’s one-language LOTE department fails to prepare students for a wider range of possible careers. Take Latin, for example: careers in both the medical and legal field use Latin for their terminology. It’s imperative for success in most STEM related fields. Familiarization with this language now may help in studies later, giving students one less thing to worry about in college.

The native Spanish speakers of the school also need to be taken into account. Rather than let them sit uselessly in a class they don’t need, instead supply them with alternatives that will challenge and excite them. A series of interviews with students on this topic revealed a desire to see the addition of more language electives. Celina’s designation as a “District of Innovation” gives administration flexibility usually only found in charter schools. The school can now hire teachers who are not necessarily certified, but are specialists in their profession. For instance, the district could hire a police chief to teach criminal justice. This simplifies finding a teacher exponentially. There should never be a reason given for not having more classes.

Students suggested German, Chinese, French, and American Sign Language. Most said it would be cool to know how to speak them, but there are also legitimate advantages in learning these languages. Students who know Chinese, for instance, could go work for the multitude of technological companies that are popping up all over the place and taking over the American economy. Culturally, learning German could open a door in understanding the many Germanic communities and festivals that are hosted all over Texas. Additionally, Germany is one of the top economies that brings in American workers, so the need extends beyond convention.

Administration may argue that through the new option to take online courses, anyone could take a different foreign language if they wanted. Sure students could also download the Duolingo app and memorize German vocab, but that method is not efficient in comprehending the language. Immersion found in the classroom is lost. It is so much better to learn from a speaker, and hear and interact with that speaker, than try to memorize vocab terms and connect with a computer.

There are so many benefits to expanding our school’s linguistic horizon, both practical and just for the curiosity of dabbling in a new culture. Like filmmaker Federico Fellini once said, “A different language is a different vision of life.” A lack of languages limits the world and our comprehension of it. Adding more language options will allow students to develop a roadmap of their careers and worldwide cultures, which is essential to success in a world that has become increasingly globalized. Administrators need to visit with the district and start making the case for adding more LOTE classes to the high school. Spanish is a great option. It’s just not a good option when it’s the only option.

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Lost in Translation