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Foreign Languages Fade in Class � Except Chinese

Original post made by Parent, College Terrace, on Jan 21, 2010

Would be interested to know what folks think of this article in the NYT about foreign language instruction. It seems to me that our local schools should be offering Chinese language instruction (not necessarily immersion, just plain Chinese language classes). Do they already? And also, can anyone say what languages are being offered in the Palo Alto school system? (again, not immersion, just language classes)

Web Link

Comments (105)

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Posted by Wo hui sho
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jan 22, 2010 at 9:20 am

Interesting article. Let me raise a question that doesn't get a lot of attention: how fluent are all these kids and what is their interest level in Chinese when they get a bit older?

When I was growing up, our family had a group of fellow Chinese American friends who all believed it was important for us kids to learn Chinese. The parents were all native speakers from Taiwan and China with advanced degrees from the best schools: your typical group of high-achieving doctors, scientists, and professors who immigrated in the 1960s.

We kids all attended regular Chinese classes, learned Chinese songs and performed in the Chinese Club Lunar New Year celebration, and so on. We learned characters, made it through the Yale Chinese textbooks. Most of us got regular exposure to spoken Chinese at home from our parents. These were also extremely smart kids who all ended up matching or exceeding their parents' formidable academic and professional achievements.

Fast forward 2-3 decades, and how fluent are this group of America-born Chinese as adults? Not very, I'm afraid to say. Very few have any kind of proficiency in reading, and while most have some very basic listening and speaking ability (most with excruciating American accents), almost none are anywhere close to this much sought-after goal of being able to do business in China and to ride the great wave of globalization.

What I've found is that the people who develop real fluency in Chinese are the ones who get a chance to live in a Chinese-speaking country, which some choose to do in college or shortly after college. If you're a kid growing up in America, you want to speak English, and this becomes truer the older you get. Learning Chinese starts to seem more a pain in the butt more than anything else.

Don't get me wrong, I think the trend toward kids learning Chinese is great. Surely if you get this exposure when you're younger, you'll develop some kind of foundation that will help you if you try to really get fluent in later years. Perhaps there is more of an appreciation of globalization and foreign language in US society today, so kids might not have the same antipathy toward learning Chinese as we did when I was growing up.

Still, as much as I would love to believe in some of these parents' starry-eyed visions of their kids doing deals and handling complex negotiations in Shanghai in 20 years, I think a lot of these kids are going to lose interest or never progress beyond the point where they're mixing up the 1st and 4th tone and causing native speakers to wince when they try to pronounce sounds like "yu".








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Posted by Mother Tongue
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 22, 2010 at 9:26 am

I think none of the elementary schools offer language, except after school.

Each middle school picks its own languages (right now Jordan and JLS both have French, German, Japanese, Spanish; and Terman has the same minus French).

Paly has Spanish, Japanese, French, and Mandarin; Gunn has the same plus German.

It is a real shame that the district has put such a low priority on languages for so many years--they should be mandatory in elementary, though that's not going to happen given present budget problems.

The way languages are chosen at middle school is also opaque and invites suspicion. Administrators told me that teachers think about the offerings once in a while but that there is no regular review. They also told me (politely) that they do not seek parent input in terms of what languages they offer. It smells of self-interest on the part of the staff.

Mandarin is a no-brainer and would be a particularly good choice for our district.


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Posted by Mother Tongue
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 22, 2010 at 9:37 am

Wo,

Sure, but the same holds for any language (or math for that matter). Kids who stop studying it and never travel will lose much of their ability.


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Posted by Wo hui shuo
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jan 22, 2010 at 10:04 am

Mother,

That's true. And you're definitely right that offering Mandarin in middle school would be a no-brainer. Does the district have plans in the works to initiate this? I would imagine a lot of parents would be lobbying for this.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 22, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Spanish is the obvious second language in this country. There are far, far more Spanish speakers than speakers of the Chinese languages--and that's the demographic trend as well. I think we don't study it as a matter-of-course for reasons of snobbery as much as anything--it's seen as lower-class on some level.

That said, the U.S. is the land of second-language death. No immigrant group has maintained its mother tongue tradition (outside the Brits) past the third generation. This is even true of Hispanics.

We're a fairly isolated country geographically--with Spanish speakers to the south and some French speakers to the north, but that's not been enough to make being bilingual enough of an advantage for Americans to learn second languages.

I tend to think the monolingualism is a price we pay, inadverdantly, to have a national identity. Speaking like an American marks you as an American since we really don't all look alike.

Early exposure will help train an ear and develop an accent. That said, kids both learn *and* lose languages more quickly than adults. It really is use it or lose it with them. So, yes, with Mandarin, even immersion kids will lose their languages skills if they don't keep using the language. So the observation about the truly fluent people being those who actually lived among a Chinese-speaking group is backed up by the research.

Adult learners, on the other hand, don't get the accent, but do better with long-term retention. (And, why do we know this--the Mormons have done a lot of research--the better to proselytize world-wide.)


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Posted by Parent
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 22, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Thanks for the thoughtful replies, especially the 1st post from "Wo hui sho". I agree it is hard to keep up with a language (or music or math or anything, but especially language) without constant practice.

I would be happy with some exposure and appreciation, without a full-blown immersion program. I don't think I really expect my kids to negotiate international trade agreements in Shanghai 20 years down the road! :-) I bet there will be more acceptance of learning Mandarin as China emerges as a true superpower.... probably not the case growing up 20 years ago.

I am disheartened to learn that Mandarin isn't offered in the PAUSD until high school. You would think the school district would be more open to parental input.


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Posted by interested
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 22, 2010 at 10:26 pm


Ohlone parent,

"Adult learners, on the other hand, don't get the accent, but do better with long-term retention. (And, why do we know this--the Mormons have done a lot of research--the better to proselytize world-wide.)"

what research is there that adults have long-term retention?

this would be novel brain research that adults would retain anything better than younger people



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Posted by Joe
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 22, 2010 at 11:00 pm

My impression is the PAUSD is overdoing it on foreign language. The core classes that should be emphasized are math, science, and English. The US is behind nearly all other key countries in math and science. Yes, the world is becoming more global and having an exposure to another language is great. However, let's keep the focus rather than worry about a theoretical in order to stay competitive in the marketplace.


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Posted by Mother Tongue
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 23, 2010 at 8:14 am

Parent,

Yes, it is disheartening that middle school kids cannot study Mandarin. Any change is years off, but not out of the question for kids in K-2. I'm not sure how you could effect change, however, since the district seems to respond very defensively to the community on many issues.

Joe,

The relevant question is how is Palo Alto doing at math and science education, not how well the country is doing. Scores are high, and the district excels at boosting mid-level kids to higher levels. And even if the district were doing a poor job, it is not clear that eliminating everything except math, science, and English would help.

Ohlone Parent,

"Adult learners, on the other hand, don't get the accent, but do better with long-term retention. (And, why do we know this--the Mormons have done a lot of research--the better to proselytize world-wide.)"

This is vague to the point of meaninglessness--too many variables (how many times a week, how many hours, motivation, etc.). But it's worth noting that the Mormons are in the midst of setting up the largest concentration of grade-school Mandarin immersion programs in the country....


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Posted by interested
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 23, 2010 at 11:46 am



"Mormons are in the midst of setting up the largest concentration of grade-school Mandarin immersion programs in the country."

why?





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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 23, 2010 at 2:32 pm

interested,

Brighan Young University researches it--the Mormons expect their youth to do two years of missionary work--so they have a strong interest in young adults acquiring and retaining second languages of all sorts.

Basically, different learning strategies--babies, kids up to around the age of nine, just kind of absorb and parrot back. Adolescents and adults actively study to learn.

The Language Attrition article in Wikipedia will give you an introduction.

Mother Tongue,

No, not meaningless. Language Attrition or Language Loss is a busy little niche of linguistics.

Your comments have to do with how well a language is learned, mine were comments on how well that learned language is *retained*. It's use it or lose it--particularly for languages learned in childhood.

If we're going to be serious about second languages, then, frankly, we need to start before middle school But, no, the district doesn't see it as a priority. So we have a situation where a handful of kids get immersion and the others get nothing in grade school and overcrowded classes in middle school.

Families interested in having their kids learn Mandarin actually have a big advantage over families who want their kids to learn another language--there are lots of affordable Mandarin classes around for kids. More than for any other language.


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Posted by interested
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 23, 2010 at 3:08 pm



Ohlone parent,


if it would be true that adults retain languages better than younger people, why bother starting younger? Use it or lose it is unrelated to age, so I still don't understand the Mormon research on language retention that you refer to, is it published?







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Posted by Mother Tongue
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 23, 2010 at 4:30 pm

You misread. I said that your blanket comment was meaningless not that language loss doesn't exist.

As I pointed out, whether or not you keep a language depends on many factors, including how well it was learned, how much study was involved over how much time, what the motivation was, etc. That said, it's certainly not the case that kids " learn *and* lose languages more quickly than adults." This statement is meaningless.

Yes, it would be good if the district were to start languages in elementary, but middle school is what we have now, and it is beyond silly that none of the middle schools offer Mandarin. The district is short-sighted, and parents here are obsessed with math and science. The immersion programs have nothing to do with those abysmal decisions.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 23, 2010 at 5:19 pm

The International language of science, technology, diplomacy and business is and will continue to be American English.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA, has solved the problem of communicating with those who cannot speak in American English and/ or are illiterate in American English.

Very soon there will be an app for that---

"DARPA is aiming to get an affordable iPod-size interpreter on the chest of every American warrior, foreshadowing the day such devices will be as common as music players.

Independently, Google is deploying its strikingly successful Translate project.
It instantly translates text among 41 languages from Bulgarian to Hindi with surprising felicity.
The big question is how soon Google will release a voice version, making the world's cellphones multilingual.

That sound you hear? It's the sound, after all these millennia, of the Tower of Babel rising once again."Web Link

As for Chinese--- a hundred dialects are spoken there and another set in Taiwan-- in the main they are mutually unintelligible.

For example a kid in the Cantonese Immersion Program in Cupertino can not understand a kid in the Palo Alto Mandarin Immersion Program.

Companies that have both Mandarin and Cantonese native speaks conduct their meetings in American English.
There are such companies in Palo Alto, in fact.

They can read most of the written documents, but machine translation of written language has already been solved by MIT Stanford and Google.

At one time the international language was Latin, then French, for a bit.

Now and for the future it is American English


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 23, 2010 at 5:37 pm

I agree that the future is English, but not necessarily American English only. British English is the language of Europe, Africa, India, and Australia but I don't think this part is worth arguing over.

The true value of learning another language, particularly a European language for an English speaking person, is that through learning a foreign language a new understanding of grammar, word stems and roots, punctuation and vocabulary are acquired. Even learning a language like latin has value because it teaches these things which really help a good foundation of English. Even English undergraduate students are required to take a foreign language class because it improves their ability to write good English. At present grammar is very difficult for our monolinguist students here because they do not understand such concepts as tenses, cases, participles, articles, etc. By learning how to do this in a different language where these things become important, we then understand what they mean when writing our own language.

And when it comes down to it, no matter what future profession a student aspires to, a basic ability to write good English will be paramount - whether to write their resume or to sign that big deal. An ability to speak intelligently and write correctly in English with those foreign business partners who have learned to speak English much better than is taught here, will be much more crucial.

Otherwise, they will be beating us and laughing at our inability to write the difference between their/there, affect/effect, congratulations/congradulations, etc.

So we should be learning languages from an early age not to be able to communicate with foreigners, but to enable us to keep our English language skills from becoming the laughing point of the world.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 23, 2010 at 5:59 pm


to Resident

Ok, American English speakers should be fluent in British English, not that hard, takes a couple of days.

There is, in fact, a strong argument for the establishment of a governing international community called the Anglo Sphere,
USA, UK, NZ, Canada, India, Australia, some Caribbean nations and some African English speaking nations, plus Singapore ( pity about Hong Kong )

What all these nations have in common, apart from the English language, are

1/A history of Democracy and democratic institutions

2/Respect for Property Rights

3/Rule of Common Law and fair trials

4/Common accounting standards

5/Rules against insider trading

6/Freedom of speech-- and more important-- freedom AFTER speech


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 23, 2010 at 6:06 pm

interested,

Yes, it's published.

Children learn languages better than do adults in terms of "speaking like a native"--i.e. accent, idiomatic expressiveness, overall fluency. So if you start early and then keep using it (that's the critical thing), learning a language as a child is a big advantage.

Mother Tongue,

No, I didn't misread you. I pointed out that your comments were about language learning, not retention.

And, no, my statement is far from meaningless. Children who are adopted overseas, for example, lose their mother tongue completely if it's not used. An adult will retain more of an unused language over the same period of time. The language-learning process for adults and children are different and it affects retention.

If you quit using English for five years you will still know English. A child in the same situation will not. The particular bit of research of which I'm thinking studied second-language retention 20 years after the language was learned. And, as I say, the retention was actually better in those who had learned the second language as adults than as children. I thought it interesting and something that jibed with my own experience. I will never come close to speaking like a native, but I've retained a large chunk of what I've learned--to a degree that surprises me.

I considered it relevant given the comments by the first poster. You can introduce children to languages early, but that in and of itself won't guarantee adult fluency. It's a longterm project.

And as it happens, Mandarin in middle school *is* politically tied to MI. You'll see that if you go back to the debate. The district decided to oil the squeaky PACE wheel. You'll see some more noise in a few years when the PACErs start pushing for MI middle school.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 23, 2010 at 6:39 pm


Resident

To your point

What you see among the elites in the USA and Europe is a massive wave of teaching their kids--- Latin

Amazing-- now historically the ruling classes in Europe and on the N East Coast of the USA had their children learn Latin.
Now it has come back for the kids of the wealthy and influential big time.

I doubt that DARPA has an app for Latin, I will check with friends at Google

Latin-- it could become a secret code, like the Skull and Bones Society at Yale.

We need Latin Immersion Programs to protect ourselves from the Latin Peril

Actually if you read the science--- machine translation has solved the language problem unless you want to translate poetry--
but there will soon be an app for that--


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Posted by Mother Tongue
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 23, 2010 at 9:26 pm

Sharon,

Your comments about language are naive and mostly wrong.

For instance, Google's translate project is not "strikingly successful," if by that you mean it reliably generates useful translations. Also, Mandarin is the standard language learned across China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. There is no Cantonese immersion program in Cupertino. Etc.

Ohlone Parent,

As I explained, your original comment is meaningless.

You have now provided a concrete example that does not support your original blanket statement. No matter, let's take that.

It is probably true that if you deprive a young child of exposure to his or her native language for a couple decades that child will lose more of the language than an adult would under the same circumstances. This (no citation for your research?), of course, is a long way from your original claim and has nothing to do with the issues involved in setting up a language program in public schools. Indeed, your Mormon friends have set up some of the most ambitious immersion schools in the country despite their own "research."

I do agree that fluency is a longterm project.

And no, the two PAUSD immersion programs have nothing to do with the abysmal decisions that go back many years. You seem to have an ax to grind here, but the district's lack of language programming goes back....


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Posted by interested
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 23, 2010 at 10:47 pm


from Ohlone parent
"The district is short-sighted, and parents here are obsessed with math and science. The immersion programs have nothing to do with those abysmal decisions."

from Mother tongue
And no, the two PAUSD immersion programs have nothing to do with the abysmal decisions that go back many years. You seem to have an ax to grind here, but the district's lack of language programming goes back....


you guys seem to be talking in code here

what "decisions" are you talking about? the only decisions I've heard of from the district on languages are the immersion programs, so how can they have nothing to do with the PAUSD decisions??

what I will never understand is the use of the word immersion, every language class, cd-rom or after-school program is called immersion,

WO hui shuo is on to something,

"that the people who develop real fluency in Chinese are the ones who get a chance to live in a Chinese-speaking country, "





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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 24, 2010 at 3:31 am

re >>>Posted by Mother Tongue, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, 5 hours ago

Sharon,

Your comments about language are naive and mostly wrong.>>


In fact------ If you read English papers like the NYT and the Washington Post you will learn the facts

The New York Times reports that there are 5 Cantonese Immersion programs in the Bay Area, including Cupertino
" If approved, Palo Alto would have joined two other Bay Area cities with Chinese language immersion programs in schools.
They are Cupertino, a Silicon Valley neighbor, and San Francisco, which has two Mandarin immersion programs and five in Cantonese, another Chinese dialect."Web Link

Regarding DARPA and Google

"It is coming," Peter Norvig says of the day when cellphones translate conversation. "We don't announce things before their time. But there will be products coming out soon. The early generations will be only for the early adopters, and then later on it will reach the masses."

Norvig is the director of research at Google, arguably the world's leader in machine translation. "Certainly we're the broadest. We have over 40 languages and we translate between all pairs of them . . . in any subject domain . . . and nobody else does that."

link WPWeb Link

One could argue that the NYT the Washington Post, DARPA, Google, MIT, Stanford etc are " naive and mostly wrong " but you would lack any credibility.




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Posted by Mother Tongue
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 24, 2010 at 9:54 am

Sharon,

Read your quote again, and you'll see that you confused "Chinese" with "Cantonese;" it does not mention a Cantonese program in Cupertino. So the NYT got it right--you just didn't read it correctly.

You should expect Google to flog its application with gusto, but a sales pitch does not mean anything. You don't speak any foreign languages, and that is why you believe these pie-in-the-sky promises. If you did speak another language, you could simply try out google's translation app and you'd see that I am right. It simply cannot reliably generate useful translations.

I guess that's one for me and none for DARPA, MIT, Stanford, you, etc.

Interested,

Going back many years, the district has decided not to offer languages in the elementaries. Those are the decisions.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 24, 2010 at 10:43 am

The point I would like to get across is that the true value of learning another language is not to communicate with others in that language, although that is obviously a benefit, but to understand one's own language better and to be able to write and speak better as a result.

Those who have learned English as a second language while outside an English speaking culture, often speak it more correctly, make less spelling mistakes and to some extent have a better vocabulary. The mistakes these people make when speaking or writing is usually that they don't use contractions and slang the same way a native speaker does. Contractions and slang are not good English when writing important business communications or when making an important presentation - apart from the occasional lighthearted remark.

I have seen the writing of many PAUSD students at various grade levels and the writing is poor. Our English classes, particularly in high school, are really literature classes - and poor literature with very poor English at that.

The more students try and write in a foreign language, the more they will improve the writing standard of their own language.


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Posted by Chris Kenrick, Palo Alto Weekly staff
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 24, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Hello,
I just noticed this thread. Here are a couple of links about things going on locally with Mandarin instruction:
Mandarin as a national strategy: Web Link
Immersed in Mandarin Web Link
It's not just for heritage speakers Web Link
Stanford Chinese School Web Link


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 24, 2010 at 1:11 pm

Mother Tongue,

If I can support a statement, then, no, hardly meaningless. Instead of being dismissive, why not ask for further information? And, of course, my comments have everything to do with language retention in kids. I'm brief about it because, frankly, I've posted about all of this stuff before.

The linguists at BYU aren't my Mormon friends--it's just that if, oh, you happen to do a basic Google search on the issue, you'll see that that's where there's a lot of research being done. The Mormons do have particular reasons for their immersion programs that are not releveant to those of us not interesting in converting 1.3-billion Chinese. It is what it is. I don't get your chip on your shoulder about it. They're also good on geneaology for religious reasons, doesn't mean that the family trees aren't useful for non-Mormon geneaologists.

And, yes, the lack of other foreign-language programs does have a lot to do with the recent MI fracas. There are earlier decisions, yes, but given the long-running battle over MI, the board backed off further FL issues (and got itself into hot water over Everyday Math instead). As I recall, there was supposed to be an MI summer program at the middle-school level, however.

It's worth noting, however, that when they do surveys--foreign-language instruction isn't that important to the community. So, the poor decisions--as you consider them--do reflect local priorities, for better or worse.

My personal preference, by the way, would be for widely available opt-in foreign language programs at the school. I think Ohlone's wide array of afterschool foreign language programs are a step in the right direction--but one hour a week isn't enough. I'd like to see another hour of instruction and affordable summer-immersion programs.

Like I said, families interested in Mandarin have an advantage in that there are numerous programs in the private sector that fit the bill. I've known families that wanted a school program because they didn't want the hassle of arranging private (and making the kids go), but I honestly think it's not that big a burden. I also think for some immigrant parents that there's a nice social aspect to the private programs.

interested,

You're misattributing quotes here. I didn't say anything about the district being short-sighted. That was another poster.

Immersion refers to a couple of full-time school programs in which the students are taught several hours a day in a second language (Spanish or Mandarin)--not just the foreign language, but subjects like math and science.


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Posted by interested
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 24, 2010 at 1:20 pm


Resident,

what you say makes sense, but how would knowing Mandarin help one write better English?

the other romance languages make more sense, but a totally different alphabet?

don't get me wrong, Mandarin is a no brainer for a lot of other reasons, just not for writing better English


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 24, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Interested

My previous post (2 hours ago) was a follow up to my post (19 hours ago), where I mentioned that European languages made more sense for English speaking people to improve their English speaking skills. I pointed out that Latin in particular made a great deal of sense for this reason.

I myself spent several years learning French. I cannot speak French, but through learning about irregular verbs, word order and placement in a sentence, word roots, and how to conjugate a verb in various tenses, I realised the importance of doing the same in English. Without the need to understand these things in French, I would never have acquired the knowledge of doing the same in English no matter how much my English teacher tried to instruct me.


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Posted by Mother Tongue
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 24, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Ohlone Parent,

You made a statement that was too broad to be meaningful and haven't supported it, and your statements about Mormons are dismissive and silly. If you took a little time to learn about what they do, you'd find that their language needs match up exactly with those of our elementary kids.

I now appreciate that you have a grudge against Mandarin immersion in particular and that in that mindset it feels good to try to place blame, but it is illogical to claim that the Mandarin immersion program is responsible for the lack of languages or for Everyday Math.

I agree with you that the poor choices reflect benighted local priorities. I think the simplest approach would be to start in elementary schools as they do in Europe. I am skeptical that an hour or two a week would make any difference, however, so I'd like to see more time spent. Ideally, though, we'd just follow the Mormons toward immersion.

Resident,

I think you're right that one of the values of learning another language is that you get to know your own better. But that is not the true or major value. There are better, more efficient ways to get to know your own language, and there are better, more efficient ways to learn to write well.

The main value of learning another language is being able to communicate with other people.

As for which language to pick, learning Romance and Germanic languages is relatively easy for an English speaker and learning Mandarin is relatively difficult, so it makes sense to jump into Mandarin when the mind is more adaptable.


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Posted by interested
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 24, 2010 at 2:18 pm



Resident,

sorry, I had missed your earlier post.

I wonder about Latin, compared to a live language. If you can improve your grammar by learning a live vs dead language, wouldn't learning the former be more useful?

what Ohlone Par said about the snobbery against Spanish, and I'd say against French too, rings trueand that somehow Latin would solve this issue, and wonder if Mandarin is - as someone is quoted in the article " really changing the language education landscape of this country," said Nancy C. Rhodes, a director at the center and co-author of the survey."

for the grammar, I'd say Spanish, French, and other romance languages are being underestimated in schools, cynic that I am, I think it's all an industry and whatever is selling has salespeople behind it, look at Everyday Math








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Posted by interested
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 24, 2010 at 2:27 pm


Mother Tongue,

"As for which language to pick, learning Romance and Germanic languages is relatively easy for an English speaker and learning Mandarin is relatively difficult, so it makes sense to jump into Mandarin when the mind is more adaptable."

to pick for what?



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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 24, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Mother Tongue,

Too broad to be meaningful? No. Do kids pick up languages more readily than adults? Yes. Thus, the ability of children to learn languages without accents while most adults cannot. Do they lose them more readily--again, easily seen in the studies of immigrant children. And, again, tying to the earlier comment by Wo Hui Sho about not retaining a second language taught in childhood. You'll find that his/her experience is common.

You didn't understand. Your issue--not mine. Own it.

My comment about EDM was a bit tongue-in-cheek--as in it was every bit as contentious an issue than MI. And, having watched the last discussion of FLES--the board backpedaled on it quickly.

I realize you may not like these political realities, but they are what they are. The Board wasted an incredible amount of time on MI, a program that benefits a very small number of children, while continuing to dodge long-term planning for the city's growing population.

Not sure why you think Mandarin--which is not widely spoken in the United States--should be taught *because* it's difficult. Many children have enough issues as it is. Personally, my kid doesn't need the homework and the rote memorization. The usefulness of Mandarin for most Americans isn't worth the time investment. Spanish would be useful, Mandarin wouldn't be.

Which isn't to say that the investment isn't worth something to *you*--which is why I support accessible opt-in language programs.

It's been pointed out here that while the rest of the world knows that English is the obvious second language, the matter isn't as cut-and-dried for English speakers. There are arguments to be made for several languages--Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin, Latin, French, Hindi, etc. Ohlone has six afterschool language programs started by parents for a reason--and I've heard some murmerings about German. Every family has its own reasons for choosing a particular language. (I might add that the kids often choose a different language after a while and will switch.

Another hour a week would be two hours--or 20 to 30 minutes a day. That's adequate for most subjects, including languages. Summertime immersion programs would be an added benefit.

Interested,

The push for Mandarin has the Chinese government behind it. So lot of money available. Simple as that, really. Like I say, demographically, Spanish is the real second language around here and will continue to be.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 24, 2010 at 2:54 pm


Given the fact in a very short time machine translation will take care of text and speech why waste resources on antiquated approaches to solving the "Tower of Babel" problem?

Soon, according to Google and DARPA etc, we will have cell phones that will instantaneously translate from one language into another.

We would be much better off devoting resources to math, science and technology education in our public schools.

If certain ethnic groups here want their children to learn in the parents language they should pay for it in the private sector and not expect taxpayers to support and subsidize their whims.

In terms of the economic value of learning Cantonese or Mandarin the ROI and business just is not there anymore for many American firms.

China is firewalling its internet and will experience diminishing development in the service economy moving forward.

The recent industrial espionage against foreign companies trying to do business in China has taken the "Bloom of the Rose" very quickly.
Google, Yahoo and Motorola are just a few of the companies which are reevaluating their investment in and commitments to China.

Meanwhile the Indian economy is set to take off in the service economy----Web Link
"China has been growing at roughly 9% a year with an investment/GDP ratio of around 40%. India has been clocking about 6% a year with an investment/GDP ratio of about 25%. This indicates that India is using capital more efficiently, in the sense that it gets more growth bang for the investment buck.
The reason for this disparity is quite simple: India's growth drivers have been services, which typically are far less capital-intensive than manufacturing, on which China has relied to a greater extent."

India is looking like a much more attract place to make investments and do business with.
"One major advantage that India has is the existence of a functioning democracy and the economic "soft infrastructure,"
or what I would describe as "institutional capital"
that those in developed economies accept as standard
-- rule of law, commercial code, veracity of the data, evenhanded treatment of all parties, root out corruption, property rights (intellectual and otherwise), bankruptcy procedures, monetary and fiscal policies that work and are understandable, etc."

And, of course, the language of business in India is English.



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Posted by Mother Tongue
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 24, 2010 at 4:50 pm

Ohlone Parent,

"Do they [kids] lose them more readily--again, easily seen in the studies of immigrant children." As a general proposition this is false--it's too broad to be true and you can offer no support, which is why you keep skating away from this claim to the one about loss of native language by immigrants. Think a moment before you make sweeping claims....

"My comment about EDM was a bit tongue-in-cheek" You have a penchant for blaming Mandarin immersion for problems it has nothing to do with, objectively speaking. (I realize you have tied them together subjectively in your mind.) As for Spanish being worth more than Mandarin, that is a purely subjective judgment on your part, though I assume it is valid in your case given that your animosity towards Mandarin indicates you're not going to have much to do with Chinese and certainly with that attitude nothing of worth could come from such contact.

Mandarin--or any language that is linguistically very different from English--makes a good choice because children learn languages more easily and that time frame is a good time chance to learn something that would be more difficult later on. (Homework and rote memorization have nothing to do with Mandarin.)

I know of no country teaching adequate English to students with only 12 minutes a day. One hour a week gives parents bragging rights but isn't going to do much for children's language acquisition. On the other hand, that's about Palo Alto's speed: superficial bragging rights.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 24, 2010 at 5:19 pm


I disagree with OhlonePar on many issues but her statement that

"The push for Mandarin has the Chinese government behind it. So lot of money available"

is correct.

The Chinese People's Liberation Army has also funded Confucius Institutes at universities around the world Web Link

Propaganda is OK, Industrial Espionage is not.

Also I am fluent in Cantonese, French and American English.

I have used the prototypes from Google and others--- they work very well, are in use, and will be in commercial versions that will WOW users very soon.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 24, 2010 at 6:57 pm

For clarification

When I say "I have used the prototypes from Google and others---"

I am referring to the amazingly accurate translation ability of these new technologies, they are very, very good.

We should congratulate the DOD for their investment in this technology, money well spent, that will transform international relations, for those states that value freedom of speech and dialog.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 25, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Mother Tongue,

But I can offer support--do a search on LARA and you'll find a series of research articles on language retention. Quit being lazy.

As for subjectivity--I think you don't understand the word. It's fact, not opinion, that Spanish is widely spoken in this country. It is fact that the Spanish-speaking population in this country dwarfs the Mandarin-speaking population. It is a fact that the Spanish-speaking population has grown rapidly. These facts all support arguments in favor of Spanish as a second language. It is a language that is more useful than Mandarin in the United States.

Nothing to do with animosity toward Mandarin Immersion--my objection to the program is based on other issues--poor use of district resources and space. I've never objected to anyone having their kid learn Mandarin--just in imposing their desires on others who do not share them. I think immersion boutique programs belong in the private sector.

Homework and rote memorization have everything to do with learning Mandarin. You should do a little research on the subject. Literacy in Mandarin is a challenge because of the memorization required by the its writing system.

You're right--12 minutes a day isn't sufficient, which is why I think there needs to be two hours a week or 20 to 30 minutes a day. Which I stated.

You are not reading carefully--and in such a way that is indicative of bias.








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Posted by Mother Tongue
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 25, 2010 at 7:20 pm

Ohlone Parent,

I called you on your error, so now you bluster and name-call. You made the claim, so please go ahead and support it. Show us the evidence.

Hello? Anything? No?

Thanks for citing your personal reasons to study Spanish--they're just peachy. Trouble is, you think just because they apply to your situation they apply to everyone's. So, I do agree that Spanish is indeed much more useful than Mandarin in the United States--for Ohlone Parent. It's a subjective thing.

It's revealing that you believe there is a truth as to which language is most useful. It sorta indicates an inability to see the world from other people's perspective, a solipsism, and it explains why you come off as tone deaf in this back and forth. What's good for Ohlone parent is good for the world: Ohlone Parent is the world.

And no, sorry, homework and rote memorization have nothing to do with Mandarin.

As for 20-30 minutes a day, the answer's still the same: It appeals to the superficial who want bragging rights but it gains little for the child.

The bottom line is: Mandarin is a great choice for many kids, many parents around the country are realizing this, and our district is flat-footed and way behind in placing Mandarin in the middle schools and in introducing robust language learning in the elementaries.


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Posted by Wo Hui Shuo
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jan 26, 2010 at 7:17 am

OhlonePar,

You're right that there are more native Spanish speakers than Mandarin speakers in the US. However, learning to speak with non-English speakers residing in the US is probably not the primary objective of Americans choosing to learn a second language. Instead, those wanting to learn Mandarin no doubt recognize that it is the national language of a country of over a billion people whose economic and political influence in the world will probably only increase in the coming years, and therefore, it could be a useful language to know.

Sharon,

Based on your posts here and elsewhere, I realize that you oppose bilingual education and support those advocating that English be the official language of the US. Yes, one can make an argument that bilingual education for low-income recent immigrants may just put those people at a permanent disadvantage in the US job market because it may slow their progress at learning English.

But it is wrong to let hostility toward bilingual education transmogrify into hostility toward foreign language study in general. Then you're veering into hysterical nationalist paranoia reminiscent of the military guy in "Dr. Strangelove" who was convinced water fluoridation was some kind of communist anti-American plot.

Upper middle class students in Palo Alto completely fluent in English studying Mandarin is a completely different category from the lower income immigrants in bilingual education. There's a big world outside the US, and if more highly-educated, skilled Americans--and Palo Alto produces a lot of these--attain the language skills that allow us to interact with and understand foreign countries better, that's an unqualified good thing. This is not a zero sum game where learning a foreign language equals debasement of American culture.

But getting back to my original post, from personal experience, I just know that learning these foreign languages is not easy!






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Posted by trilingual
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 26, 2010 at 10:02 am

"I just know that learning these foreign languages is not easy! "

Actually, learning a foreign language is easy. It's not like it takes a lot of intellect. It's whether the effort is worth-while when you could be using that time for advanced study in other areas. Some feel it is, most forget the languages they learned in school.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 26, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Mother Tongue,

What error? You didn't understand something, so I explained it to you. Making proclamations that this was not the case fools only yourself.

I don't, in fact, study Spanish. I'm simply listing the obvious ones for doing so in a state where the come majority will be Hispanic. They're not arguments unique to me.

Sorry you don't think 20-30 minutes a day will do anything. But, then, all this indicates to me is that your desires don't jibe with the aims of public education. Sorry, very few families would be willing to have their kids spend an hour a day or more learning Mandarin--when it would come at the expense of other subjects such as math, English, etc.

Of course, 20 to 30 minutes of practice a day *is* sufficient to learn a musical It's actually a pretty typical amount of the time given to several subject in which kids do make progress.

You make various proclamations, but fail to support them. But, here, let's make it easy for you--how do you learn hundreds of pictographs without rote memorization? Go ahead, give a clear answer and support it.

Even in China, true literacy for the whole population has been a challenge.

And, of course, I specifically mentioned that people have different reasons for wanting their children to learn a particular language--indeed, that was why I favor an opt-in approach. There isn't a single ideal second language for English speakers, which is what you implied when you said our kids should all be learning Mandarin in school.

It's *your* viewpoint that's narrow, not mine.

You really are *not* reading carefully.

Wo Hui Sho,

Different families have different reasons--SI is a popular choice program--and, like MI, has a plethora of native-English speaking applicants.

The reasons you give for learning Mandarin--i.e. it makes business sense and there's a big world out there apply to Spanish. The idea is that there's a business advantage to it. Either Mandarin or Spanish will give some advantages that way.

So, as I said, I've no issue with families wanting their kids to learn a second language and their many reasons for it. What language and by what means are where I get into the debate.

Trilingual,

I think that sums it up, actually.
-


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 26, 2010 at 7:48 pm


Wo Hui Shuo

I apologize if my post seemed to imply that such programs as Ohlone MI are a wing of the Chinese Communist Party, clearly it is not.
China has as much right as any other country to promote its culture and values.
The Canadian Government and others do have valid concerns about the Confucius Institute program at many universities around the world , their agenda is clearly very different from Germanys Goethe Institutes, for example.

You are correct, I am opposed to bi-lingual education, it has created an enduring underclass among Mexican immigrants.
Just as China sees the need for a common language across its empire, Mandarin, we need American English as the common language.

My main point, however, is that new technologies enable will simultaneous translation across multiple languages and they are getting better all the time.
For an English speaker to learn Mandarin in text and speech is huge and not worth the effort in most cases, machine translation will deal with this issues soon.
Of course we need to learn about each others cultures and I believe the main thing we need to do in the US is improve education in Math, Science and Technology.
These are critical skills that require a solid foundation.
From my own research, languages can be picked up later in life but you need a foundation in math from a very early age, if you miss that you can never catch up.
China and the US face both serious problems and potential opportunities moving forward.
The way to harvest these opportunities is through diplomacy and trade, not language immersion IMHO


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Posted by Mother Tongue
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 26, 2010 at 10:42 pm

Ohlone Parent,

Still no evidence for your position (hint: name-calling doesn't count). Whatever. It's quite clear you just want to dodge your error.

And no, the aim of public education is not to provide superficial bragging rights--I'm not sure how you got this odd notion about American values. There is no contradiction between a good education and American values.

As for rote memorization, you made the claim and I called you on it. If you actually believe what you typed, go ahead and prove it. The burden is on you, not me.

Your answers betray an inability to see things from another perspective, and that is exactly the sort of narrow-minded thinking that can be undone by learning a language.


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Posted by interested
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 26, 2010 at 11:19 pm



MT

actually knowing two heritage languages doesn't count towards seeing from another perspective, as much as when you have learnt a brand new language that is totally different from what you are used to, or have learned more naturally. It really doesn't matter which language it is.

no pain no gain





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Posted by Mother Tongue
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 27, 2010 at 12:19 am

Interested,

I have no idea what you're saying.

Knowing another language puts you in the position to understand a new perspective. this is true whether it is a "heritage language," a second language in the home, or a language learned in school or on the pillow.


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Posted by interested
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2010 at 8:40 am



so why are Ohlone Par's so offensive to you? it's just another perspective,

my point was that perspective goes out the window if you somehow feel superior because of knowing another language,

but if you are calling it that way, my perspective is that those that had to work at it the hardest will have better perspective than people who learned it more naturally.




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Posted by Mother Tongue
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 27, 2010 at 9:08 am

"my point was that perspective goes out the window if you somehow feel superior because of knowing another language," Absolutely agree here.

"...those that had to work at it the hardest will have better perspective than people who learned it more naturally." In my experience it's a coin toss. I've known open, globally-minded, sensitive people who learned language in a classroom and blinkered, narrow people who had language and culture handed to them on a silver platter. And vice versa.

As for Ohlonepar, I'm just pointing out the errors in his or her outlandish claims. Languages are neglected here, and the last thing we need is that kind of disinformation, narrow-minded perspective, and antagonism toward any particular language or ethnic group.

As a district, we should offer robust languages in elementary (look to Europe for successful models), bigger immersion programs, and an updated offering of languages in middle school (it boggles the mind that the middle schools do not offer Mandarin).

The district always seems to have an excuse--now it's the budget. We face cutbacks and bigger classes, the infrastructure at the elementary and middle school level is creaking if not crumbling, and languages go begging, yet we are on a building spree at the high schools.


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Posted by interested
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2010 at 9:42 am



MT,

your deal seems to be Mandarin, though you talk a big talk about languages,

you think immersion should be expanded,

why not stick to one thing - if you want Mandarin in the Middle Schools, you should work on it.




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Posted by Chinese Born In America
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 27, 2010 at 9:50 am

I agree with first poster, Wu hui sho. And I can tell you that the Chinese kids DO NOT look forward to Chinese school. Many parents use it as daycare after school. Given a choice, kids would gladly skip Chinese school. If the children have a desire to learn Chinese, they can learn it later in life. Most of these kids are fluent anyway. The only real benefit of learning Chinese is to have better service in an authentic Chinese restaurant! I rarely speak it otherwise and my husband doesn't need to speak it at work even with the ESL Chinese immigrants. Why? Because they all speak English. Allow kids to learn something they enjoy intstead.

I know plenty of kids who have ESL nannies with the parents figuring they'll teach their kids another language which the parents don't speak - Mandarin or Spanish. What happens when the nanny leaves or the child is older? Kids revert back to English and either forget everything they learned or at least forget how to speak the language they have learned because everyone else is speaking English.


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Posted by Mother Tongue
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 27, 2010 at 10:14 am

Interested,

Why are you interested in telling me what my deal is? It seems to bother you that I am in favor of languages and Mandarin in particular. My deal is languages.

That said, I'm not interested in tilting at windmills, and the district qualifies as a giant one. In observing the district and the schools, my conclusion is that the only way to effect change is to gather a significant group of like-minded parents, demand change in the form of an ultimatum, and have a club of some sort ready to swing. Unless you do that, the administrators run the district for their own purposes.

Eventually, an engaged parent with younger children will step forward with a club.

ABC,

Yep, surprise surprise: Kids are not eager to skip play for the chance to study outside school. As for what kids want, it's up to their parents to parent--by teaching them what to value.

Perhaps for you the only real benefit of learning Chinese is to have better service in an authentic Chinese restaurant (which Chinese? which restaurant?). There are more creative and useful purposes for learning it, however, and many less-blighted worldviews that would benefit from it.

Have you observed the Chinese schools? If you have, I don't think you would claim that "most of these kids are fluent anyway."


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Posted by trilingual
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 27, 2010 at 12:21 pm

As to the original poster's statement. Addison used to offer Mandarin as part of its after-school program: Web Link
It was dropped this year. Addison still offers Spanish.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 27, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Obama in his SOTU talk this evening said that Math and Science should be the priority in US education.

Well said, we need to bring his message to PA, he said we are falling behind in Math and Science--why is that?


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 28, 2010 at 2:24 am

Trilingual,

Why did Addison drop afterschool Mandarin? Loss of teacher? Lack of interest? Of Ohlone's six afterschool languages, Spanish is by far the most popular, followed (this is recent) by French. The bulk of those interested in Mandarin, of course, are in immersion.

Mother Tongue,

Your deal isn't "languages"--it's Mandarin--and Mandarin immersion at that. Why do I say that? Because you don't even address the arguments for Spanish as a FLES language in the schools (it's such an obvious choice and far more popular than Mandarin in this country) and you seem to know nothing about how long it takes to learn a second language. I'll give you hint--daily practice of 20 to 30 minutes of Spanish will, indeed, put a kid on the path to fluency if that child continues to practice it and desires it. (Oh, yeah, that's the big if with languages--you can a lead a child to a language class, but you can't make him or her interested.)

So, let's get to it:

Okay, first of all, Chinese Born in America and Wo Hui Sho's experiences are born out by the research--Americans don't retain heritage languages. It's NOT a case of poor education. The relevant study is from 2004 and comes from a report by Richard Alba given at the Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research at SUNY Albany.

While second-generation kids may be bilingual, their kids aren't. Among third-generation Asian-Americans, 92 percent speak English only.

Sorry, Mother Tongue, you don't get to blame statistics like that on poor education. Hispanics have a better rate of bilingualism--72 percent of third-generation Hispanics speak English-only. Are you *really* going to claim that Hispanics have better educational levels than Asians?

And the reasons that both posters give is basically the reason for it--second languages are of limited use in this country and sustained effort is needed to keep them up. So, yes, if you want fluency, living in a country where the language is spoken is going to be your best be (providing you don't isolate yourself from using it.)

For research on how older learners of a language suffer a lower rate of attrition than younger learners, check out Cohen 1989. There are other studies as well. Basically, the theory is that adults (which with languages means preadolescents on up) are better able to develop mental strategies to keep second-language structures intact over a long period of time. They don't have as easy a time picking up the second language in the first place for various reasons, including less capability for *rote memorization*

Oh, and as for that--geez, do a Google search on "rote memorization" and learning Chinese symbols is given as an example as what the term means.

But, here, Mother Tongue--a couple of links:

www.transparent.com/chinese/the-chinese-classroom

This backs up my point that the CHINESE use rote memorization to learn the Chinese written languages. Actually, they use rote memorization for a lot of things and have for centuries. Not exactly news.

Basically, learning Mandarin without rote memorization means that only a simplified and limited version of the written language is studied.

Now, Mother Tongue--I've given you a few links and specifics. You've provided no support for any of your claims.

You can start by demonstrating an interest in languages other than Mandarin. Show me that your interest really is about "languages"?

Just for the fun of it, see if you can do it without attacking my character. It will be less tiresome for all of us.


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Posted by trilingual
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 28, 2010 at 8:28 am

OP, not sure why. Here's the WebSite for the company that used to run it: Web Link You can go back to any 2009 school term to see their schedule for Addison last year.
It was most likely that there are just are too many after-school activities available and a couple of hours a week of Mandarin isn't going to cut it unless you have some home reinforcement.


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Posted by Mother Tongue
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 28, 2010 at 9:33 am

Ohlonepar,

You're not reading carefully. You should have noticed that I supported FLES generally and non-immersion Mandarin specifically. Such minimal attention to detail would have saved you from your embarrassing typing. Your obsession with Mandarin--especially when taught via immersion--makes it hard for you to understand others.

As for the rest, you've proved you have access to google but connecting the dots is proving more elusive.

You make all sorts of meandering references (retaining heritage languages, "poor education" of Spanish speakers vs Asians, living in other countries) that simply do not support your blanket claim. And sorry, Cohen doesn't support your position, either.

I got a chuckle from your links and comments about Chinese because it seems you have confused the historical culture of Chinese classrooms with the pedagogy of teaching Chinese. These are two different things, and giving information about one is not the same as giving information about the other. Swing and a miss, again, champ.

I notice you have stopped defending your untenable position that Spanish is worth more than Mandarin. At least that's something. Perhaps next you could get around to reading the NYT article (with comprehension).


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Posted by interested
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2010 at 9:34 am



Original Poster,

"It seems to me that our local schools should be offering Chinese language instruction (not necessarily immersion, just plain Chinese language classes). Do they already? And also, can anyone say what languages are being offered in the Palo Alto school system? (again, not immersion, just language classes)"

I think Mandarin is in both High Schools. Every school is different, I think one offers German, but another doesn't, but other languages are Spanish, French, Japanese, and maybe Latin is also offered.




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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 28, 2010 at 10:01 am

Elective classes (languages are electives, not required classes) are driven partly by interest (enough kids need to sign-up for a class to make financial sense) and by the availability of a qualified teacher. I suspect the Addison afterschool program was similarly driven.

If you feel that Mandarin should be an elective in Middle School, you should pursue that with the BOE and the district. Adding an elective is not easy, you need a full class of students (my guess is that is at least 20 kids) who want to sign-up up for the elective. And you need a qualified teacher interested in teaching the class for one period 4 days a week.

FYI - Paly currently offers ASL, French, Spanish, Mandarin and Japanese including AP level classes in everything but ASL. Gunn offers the same but also has German and does not have ASL.

The comment about "infrastructure at the elementary and middle school level is creaking if not crumbling, and languages go begging, yet we are on a building spree at the high schools." The money for buildings comes out of a different "pot" than the money for staff and ongoing expenses. The Bond is paying for the new buildings at the high schools and also new buildings and upgrades at the middle and elementary schools.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2010 at 10:40 am

Two years language at high school or two years in middle and one in high school are PAUSD graduation requirement, 3 years to level 3 are college requirements. Yes language in middle school is an elective, but a student can only take 2 electives. Language is an elective in high school and freshman/sophomores can usually only take two electives and juniors/seniors may be able to take more. Calling language an elective in high school makes it sound that it is completely optional, but that is not the case.

ASL is one of those strange anomalies. It is part of the World Language program in PAUSD, but since American Sign Language is not universal - even alphabets are different in other sign languages even in English speaking countries, it is really only useful in the US. It may meet the graduation requirements, but I am not sure if it will cover the college requirement everywhere.


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 28, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Foreign Language is NOT a PAUSD graduation requirement.

PAUSD grad requirements:Web Link


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2010 at 1:44 pm

My apologies. In that case it has changed, because there was a requirement fairly recently.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 28, 2010 at 3:46 pm

As far as I know, foreign language has never been a graduation requirement in PAUSD.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Ok,

I can remember that when ASL was brought into Paly some years ago, they gave parents the indication (and I remember this from one of the information evenings) that it would fulfill the graduation requirements but not the college requirements. I definitely took note of this at the time as many were trying to evaluate the worth of ASL on the curriculum.

If I remember the details incorrectly I apologise, but I know that there was a great deal of discussion among parents concerning this.


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Posted by interested
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2010 at 4:14 pm


MT,

as suggested by pa mom

"If you feel that Mandarin should be an elective in Middle School, you should pursue that with the BOE and the district. Adding an elective is not easy, you need a full class of students (my guess is that is at least 20 kids) who want to sign-up up for the elective. And you need a qualified teacher interested in teaching the class for one period 4 days a week."

this sounds far more practical than your idea of

"the only way to effect change is to gather a significant group of like-minded parents, demand change in the form of an ultimatum, and have a club of some sort ready to swing"

which was the MI way

instead of swinging clubs, find the right channels, it would seem Mandarin would have a 20 kid demand both judging from the article, and from the popularity of the lottery for MI.






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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 28, 2010 at 6:41 pm

Trilingual,

Thanks.

Mother Tongue,

You say you support FLES, but it's quite easy to read between the lines with you--particularly with how you think Mandarin in middle school ought to be accomplished and, frankly, your ongoing personal attacks.

As expected, you provided no support for your contentions. You seem to not understand pretty standard terminology.

And, what poor Mother Tongue, do you think kids learn in China? One of the reasons Chinese education has such an emphasis on rote learning is *because* written Chinese requires it. And has for centuries.

Do a little dot connection.




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Posted by Mother Tongue
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 28, 2010 at 10:34 pm

Interested,

What you suggest is not practical in our district. Sure, you could go through the motions, pursue it with the BOE and the district, get kicked back and forth, but what you'd find in the end is that you're treading on someone's turf and that the district is there to protect that person. At that point, you'd then have to decide if you want to find a club. The practical approach is to skip the middle part and go look for a club. (Of course, you could go through the motions just for brownie points so you could say you tried.)

Ohlonepar,

You try to read between the lines but have trouble reading the lines themselves. Everything comes back to Mandarin for you because you are obsessed with it.

OK, to your point: You made outlandish blanket claims but were unable to back them up. The onus is on you to give some evidence. Anything? No?

These unsupported claims are the result of google access and insufficient background knowledge. You still make basic mistakes--e.g. you still don't get the difference between the historical culture of Chinese classrooms and the pedagogy of how to teach Chinese.

To contribute to the debate, it's not enough to have google access and an opinion. You need comprehension.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by kthxbai
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jan 29, 2010 at 7:41 am

"I notice you have stopped defending your untenable position that Spanish is worth more than Mandarin. "

Demographics of the United States:
Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, of any race 15.4%
Asian alone 4.4%

Heloooo Mrs. Troll.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by interested
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2010 at 8:54 am



the Asian population includes several languages, not just Mandarin

but the one language vs another is like arguing about which baby is cuter or smarter

and fighting about one language being superior to another defeats the purpose of teaching languages,


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mother Tongue
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 29, 2010 at 9:31 am

"fighting about one language being superior to another defeats the purpose of teaching languages" Exactly right. Not an objective question of demographics. It's a subjective question tied to personal priorities.

What's good for one is not necessarily good for another.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 29, 2010 at 9:53 am


Everyone who lives in the USA should be fluent in American English, so their ethnic background is irrelevant to the issues of which languages we need to develop capabilities in
There is a relevant argument for learning the languages of important strategic and trading partners but machine translation technology will help build this capability.

In the old days we would use the dictionary to check spelling, now we use software--- it will soon be the same with translation.


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Posted by interested
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2010 at 12:52 pm



MT

"It's a subjective question tied to personal priorities."

not really if you are for multilingual education as a whole,

discord happens when people want it fiercely for heritage reasons, or for business reasons, or strategic reasons, or for "I" need this language it for this that and the other.

There is a place for those fights, but I think it's out of place in a public school

for example with immersion, what are the odds that the immersed kids will actually use that particular language for "strategic" reasons in the future, what if they all turn out to be in jobs that have no need or use for that particular language, or prefer another one later.

learning a language in Elementary for "strategic" reasons is a crapshoot that's expensive for public schools.

Better to learn one second language relatively well, whatever it is, and get a good base for picking more in the future.

Home School is a good place for personal priorities



















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Posted by interested
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2010 at 1:10 pm



MT,

Though I don't disagree that in High School the more language options available the better, and Mandarin is a no brainer which I would think will be in the Middle Schools soon with MI in the pipeline.





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Posted by interested
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2010 at 2:04 pm


MT,

correction

CHoosing (not learning) a language for strategic reasons for Elementary is expensive - if it means adding a new program only for that reason. Obviously in Palo Alto this doesn't mean anything because there's no program in Elementary.

But if they ever had an Elementary program, the language would hopefully not be to accommodate strategic or personal priorities because how can you assure it will come out the way you want it, so far in advance of when students will actually use or not use a particular language.












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Posted by interested
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2010 at 2:32 pm



The best way to decide on a language is the way they do it now, you have 20 students, open a class.

and if they choose it for Elementary, same way. Though if they have to limit it to one or two language choices, whatever the district chooses should not result in arguments.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 29, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Mother Tongue,

In other words, you can't refrain from personal attacks and you can't support your assertions.

'Nuff said.

But, yes, what language is good for one may not be good for the other. *Exactly* what I've been saying and why I favor an opt-in program for foreign languages in elementary school.

So nice to see you agree with me in spite of yourself. It makes me smile.

interested and kthxbai,

If all languages were equally well-funded, Spanish would continue to be the most popular. It's relatively easy and it's useful. There's enough of it spoken that I've picked up a bit just because I hear it so often.

Even in China, Mandarin isn't spoken by a large chunk of the population. China's been working on it, but what we call dialects have as much in common as what we call languages in Europe. Mandarin's an in-progress lingua-franca in China. Many of the Chinese here don't speak--Cantonese has predominated historically in California.

So, yeah, if you expect your kid to do business in China, Mandarin might make sense as a language choice, but to how many people is that really going to apply?

The other issue with Mandarin is that you need qualified teachers--and there's a limited supply of them. (At the time MI was being considered, we had two in the district--and getting the right teachers has been an issue for the Ohlone program.) Getting a middle-school teacher would be easier than getting an immersion teacher. However, the middle schools at this point aren't doing an adequate job of supporting the languages they already have. High school's a different ball of wax.

In an ideal world, we'd have the funding for any language people wanted--we'd have the usual romance languages, Latin, Sanskrit, Mandarin, Arabic, German, Russian, Japanese and Ancient Greek. I can give you a reason for studying any of them. Fact is, the public schools can't do it all.

Whatever happens, there will be arguments. That's the Palo Alto way.<g>


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 29, 2010 at 3:23 pm

To add FL to elementary schools, the day would need to be longer or something which is currently taught would have to be eliminated. I think the estimate to add FLES was well over a million dollars a year. Adding a new language in middle school is much easier, it would just be an additional elective.


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Posted by interested
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2010 at 3:36 pm



Ohlone Par,

You keep knocking Mandarin, it's the tired arguments against MI.

if you really cared about languages, this would not be an issue

you and MT make a fuss about your languages of choice, nobody will win that one, it's one baby against the other








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Posted by Mother Tongue
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 29, 2010 at 8:10 pm

interested,

The question of which language is worth more or superior depends on whom you're talking about and on their priorities: It's subjective. If one thinks there is a definite answer to the question of which language a person would benefit most from studying, then one is simply imposing one's values on others as OhloneParent tries to.

There is another question, to wit: Which languages should we teach in our schools? That calculation depends on many factors, some of them objective, some of them subjective to the community.

Discord happens for all sorts of reasons, including fear of economic competition, resentment that minorities are moving in, etc., so I think you're off base singling out "heritage speakers."

It is the job of public schools to educate, and most people today believe that an appropriate education includes some language learning. It is then appropriate for public schools to discuss which languages to teach, how to teach them, and when. Public schools are exactly the place for those discussions.

I just disagree with you about the value of foreign language instruction. I think we should do more of it earlier, both foreign language instruction and immersion. High school is late. And I'm certainly not concerned if kids from immersion programs do not use their language for "strategic" reasons later in life--there are so many good reasons to learn a language early and well, and so many benefits that accrue to those who do.

By your argument, we should just dump the post 5th grade math curriculum, cause most of those kids are never going to use those skills.... I mean, do you worry that kids do not use their geometry for strategic purposes?

Yes, Mandarin in the middle schools is a no-brainer, but I see no sign of it arriving. How is MI going to help? If it arrives at a middle school, other kids won't be able to jump in because they won't be up to speed (this is the case with SI). If it makes sense to add Mandarin now, then it makes no sense to wait for MI to grow through the grades. You say that the middle schools decide on a language by opening classes if 20 kids sign up, but that approach doesn't exist. It's a random process that depends on teacher and administrator interest.

Ohlone Parent,

First, you first tell us that Mandarin is not worth the time for American kids to study, and then you do a 180 and parrot my point about language choice being subjective. I'd like to feel encouraged, but you'll take it back in the next post, so whatever. And still with the personal attacks.

As for your remarks about Mandarin, its use in China, its usefulness in business, etc.: All completely wrong, though it does reveal your animus toward Mandarin: It's clear you don't like it or the people who speak it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Jan 29, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Funny reading the ping-pong sarcasm and snipes.

Does anyone know how they lane the Chinese language students at Paly? Are the students who are new to Chinese language in the same class as those who grew up speaking Chinese? That would be an unfair advantage and how can a newbie earn a high grade with such competition? Moreover, if they are laned, what's to stop someone from lying?


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 29, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Interested,

I don't object to Mandarin, per se. I just don't drink the Kool-Aid about it being the next big thing. But then I remember when we were all supposed to learn Russian and Japanese.

Spanish isn't my language of choice--I just think the arguments for it make a lot of sense. I studied two other languages.

Parent,

They don't lane--presumably if you speak it well, you go into a higher level class.

Mother Tongue,

Nope. I don't think language choice is subjective. There are logical arguments and facts that make a particular language a better choice than another in a given situation. It's not simply a matter of opinion, but one of different circumstances.

Do you understand what "subjective" means, by the way? You're not using it correctly.

Outside the English-speaking countries, English is the obvious second-language choice not because English is the best possible language, but because it's the international language of business and several other areas. Knowing English offers a tangible advantage.




 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mother Tongue
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 29, 2010 at 11:19 pm

Well, I did call it: You've flipped 180 degrees again. It isn't, it is, it isn't subjective.

"Outside the English-speaking countries, English is the obvious second-language choice" Define obvious. This is symptomatic of your sloppy thinking about language learning and your ignorance of the world. There are many places where facts drive the decision away from English in general. And again, for individuals it is a subjective choice. So, naw, you're wrong.

The bottom line is that it makes sense to teach Mandarin both generally in the United States as well as in this area for a wide variety of compelling reasons. That is why schools are increasingly offering Mandarin even as they dump other languages. And that is why parents ask for Mandarin for their kids.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 30, 2010 at 1:12 am

Mother Tongue,

Nah, you just don't read carefully enough. I made a similar comment on Jan. 24.

It's okay, I know you get excited about all of this and you get a bit confused as a result.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by interested
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2010 at 1:57 am


MT,

"It is the job of public schools to educate, and most people today believe that an appropriate education includes some language learning. It is then appropriate for public schools to discuss which languages to teach, how to teach them, and when. Public schools are exactly the place for those discussions."

your idea of wielding clubs at the district does not bode well for what you mean by "discussions"

but if there was a real discussion, it would likely still end up with the reality of what is affordable, if enough kids sign up for a class, and much of what Ohlone Par has brought up








 +   Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 30, 2010 at 8:59 am

Once MI gets to middle school, I assume it will be taught like SI, (at least they were until last year, not sure what they are doing this year), 6th grade was still immersion (classes taught in Spanish) and 7th and 8th a higher level language class than the rest of the kids (all the others are entry level language).

The advantage of an Immersion program at the middle school could be as simple as having a qualified teacher on staff to teach a beginning level class (language in middle school consists of teaching level 1 over a period of 2 years, the same curriculum they cover in 1 year in high school)

In high school, unless you are starting at Spanish 1 (or Mandarin, or Japanese...) you are tested and placed the appropriate level. Gunn for example, has 4 levels of Mandarin and 7 levels of Spanish.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mother Tongue
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 30, 2010 at 9:59 am

interested,

I can tell that your idea of discussions with the district is not grounded in reality. If you ever have occasion, you'll see that they are indeed "discussions."

School is not college, and middle schools don't just offer new classes in hopes they will attract enrollment and then cancel if no one signs up. You can't responsibly offer a language one year, pull it the next, and then offer it again, and these choices have to be articulated with the HS curriculum. The issue is unlikely to be money per se but rather _which_ languages to offer.

It will happen slowly for middle school. At some point, perhaps in three years, someone in the district will figure out that we are a decade behind the curve. The administrators and teachers will have a bureaucratic pillow fight for a year. Eventually, someone who stands to gain from the decision will push for Mandarin. This will mean the middle schools have to dump a language (probably German given the snob factor of French and the popularity of Japanese) they presently offer, which will provoke turf battles and infighting. In the end, they'll offer Mandarin, but it will take at least five years.

Ohlonepar,

"Jan. 24." Can't be bothered. You contradict yourself every couple days. Your statements are inconsistent with one another. Insufficient vocabulary? Or perhaps you have problems with logic. Whatever.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 30, 2010 at 2:29 pm

palo alto mom,

Part of the deal with the Board when they approved the trial MI program is that the program did NOT include an MI middle-school program. I believe it was Dana Tom who made a point of specifying that.

This is why I said earlier that this and MI/PACE were politically tied. It's kind of crazy, since as I pointed out earlier, you need to keep up language skills or kids lose them.

There was supposed to be MI summer school at the middle-school level. What happened with that?

By the way, anyone know what happened with the Spanish immersion program at Jordan? The principal just kind of cancelled the class when a teacher quit. Was it reinstated?

Mother Tongue,

You can't be bothered? I understand, using the scroll up command *is* a challenge for some. All those different little symbols on the keyboard.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by sigh
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 30, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Is this stuff still doing the rounds? Check all the surveys and get over it already. Languages just aren't a priority for the majority of Palo Altans.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mandarama
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 30, 2010 at 9:56 pm

OP,

I don't want to get involved in all the other things being parried back and forth here, but I do get the impression that you haven't spent much time in China itself and haven't spoken with many people from there. When you say that Mandarin "in-progress lingua-franca" in China, you're simply wrong. Virtually all educated people in the country speak it, and certainly anyone who would be involved in cultural or business dealings with foreigners like us speaks it.

You seem like a smart person, and I respect the thought you've put into your posts, even though I don't agree with everything you're saying. But on this point, I do think you are showing your lack of first-hand knowledge of the subject. I'm sure anyone here who has lived in China will confirm this.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by chinanaive
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 30, 2010 at 10:03 pm

Well, many people consider Taiwan part of China. Do Taiwanese speak Mandarin?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Insane expectations
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Jan 30, 2010 at 10:23 pm

To those of you who think PAUSD does not care about world languages, sit in on a Spanish class in 7th or 8th grade at Jordan. They cannot speak a drop of English and have to participate every day or get docked. Many students have dropped out of Spanish after 7th grade or retake Spanish 1 or hire tutors. My daughter spends almost as much time studying Spanish as for honors math. I heard that French is just as difficult.World language is an elective. Usually electives are fun but this is very stressful and she can't wait to finish the requirement.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mother Tongue
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 31, 2010 at 12:24 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 31, 2010 at 8:31 am

OP - Although I don't agree with the way MI was handled, assuming it continues, I would be think that when those students reached middle school, there will be a Mandarin course offered in middle school. It would be pretty irresponsible not to.

BTW - Jordan and JLS offer Spanish, French and Japanese. Terman also had German in their course catalog (but only for 7th grade). I don't know if it ended up being offered - electives in MS get cancelled without enough interest.


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Posted by interested
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2010 at 10:27 am


Ohlone Par


"Part of the deal with the Board when they approved the trial MI program is that the program did NOT include an MI middle-school program. I believe it was Dana Tom who made a point of specifying that."

I guess this referred to Immersion

regular Mandarin should have been in Middle School long before MI.

proof of how a tiny immersion program was less to do about languages and more about a staff pet project,


 +   Like this comment
Posted by interested
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2010 at 12:14 pm


Mother Tongue,

If there was a culture of promoting all languages, the programs mentioned in the article would not be taking the air out of languages in general,

taking school officials to China may sound great to you, but it's wrong for public schools to accept that

the irony is that if Mandarin activists would have gone by the regular channels, in the last 3-4 years more students from three middle schools in PA would have been learning Mandarin than the handful of lottery kids in immersion,

immersion programs are what's killing languages for the majority of kids, and the hype of one language over another

back to your Math example, would Geometry pre-5th grade immersion make sense?




 +   Like this comment
Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 31, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Palo alto mom,

I don't disagree with you--just pointing out what was said at the time. Really, just one other aspect of the MI mess. Because of the way language retention works, the board's splitting-the-difference approach (MI in elementary, no plans for middle school) is a no-go in terms of pedagoguy.

So, we'll just have another battle in a few years when the board has to address how to use limited middle-school resources.

Mandarama,

No, I've not lived in China. I'm actually referring to a 2007 study by the Chinese government which showed the penetration of Mandarin in China. Educated people would speak it, yes--but we're talking about a country where only 10 percent go to college. It comes to about 50 percent overall, with 70 percent speaking it under the age of 60.

So, that's why I refer to it as a work-in-progress. If you were to pick a Chinese language to study, Mandarin would be it unless there were personal reasons for picking one of the others (i.e. your older relatives all speak Cantonese.)

Mother Tongue likes to paint a view of me that's narrower than my actual views. Yes, I think MI/Ohlone was and is a bad idea for a number of reasons. I don't think Mandarin's the second language our kids need to study. I don't think there is a single language that fits that bill. (It's interesting to see how and why families choose after-school languages for that reason. Because it's easy to get up a language class--the participation is huge for an after-school program--around a third of all students. It also leads to multilingual insults on the playground, but that's another story.)

But I also think there are excellent reasons to learn Mandarin. It's a question of where and how to do it.

Some of my comments aren't about what I like or dislike, but simply what I've picked up from reading about it. I think it's interesting that while there are such clear benefits to early language study (it's the one way to talk "like a native") that retention is better among adolescent and adult learners. It doesn't mean I oppose earlier instruction--it does mean though you can't expect that early language learning to be retained without long-term reinforcement.

Interested,

Yes, it's the boutique program issue. Mandarin in the middle school would have taken a bit of doing just because the current language classes are underfunded and overcrowded, but it would have been the obvious next language to implement.

What bugs is me is that there's a fairly doable solution to all of this--afterschool language programs supplemented by summer language immersion programs. Immersion for the benefits that that language process offers and afterschool classes during the year to retain what was learned during the summer. It would be opt-in and not put an undue burden on the schools.

But part of my issue with the PACE crowd is that it was always all about them. Many of them came out of the preschool program at the International School, so they were very interested in not paying $20K a year--which explains a lot about their persistance--lots of tuition money involved.

And it was always quite clear that they'd do anything to get their pet program. And, yes, they continue to be an insular group at Ohlone. The first year there were attempts at parental integration, but that's falling by the wayside. Because let's face it, they care about Mandarin, not Ohlone. The exception are some Asian parents where one partner likes the idea of a heritage language and the other likes the idea of a more laid-back education than what they experienced. A fair number of those families, though, go the Ohlone route and do Chinese school.

Insane Expectations,

Thanks for the real-life input. Sounds like the Spanish teachers are trying to create a quasi-immersion experience and force kids to use their language. True immersion programs do work--but they're not one period a day.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mother Tongue
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 31, 2010 at 1:49 pm

interested,

It's not the fault of the Mandarin language that PAUSD does not have a culture of promoting languages--that's administrators, teachers, and parents. I too think it's a shame we don't have more language earlier.

What is the problem with school officials going to China?

"the irony is that if Mandarin activists would have gone by the regular channels" What do you mean? What channels did they use? Which ones do you think they should have used?

In any case, it's ludicrous to blame immersion programs for killing languages. Immersion programs promote language learning and a culture that values language.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 31, 2010 at 7:37 pm

Mother Tongue,

Public officials have no business taking private money from anonymous donors for trips. It's a conflict of interest.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mother Tongue
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 31, 2010 at 8:25 pm

OhlonePar,

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

No one said public officials would take private money.

However, there is no conflict of interest if a school district accepts money to send administrators or teachers to China.

I should probably also point out that your figures about the percentage of people who speak Mandarin in China are wildly off--this is what comes of reckless googling. It is of a kind with your remarks on language retention: random factoids gathered on the internet unleavened by real world knowledge or common sense.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 31, 2010 at 9:52 pm

Mother Tongue,

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

The district shouldn't have accepted the funds from PACE--particularly as the donors were anonymous and continue to be so.

As I say, it's a conflict of interest--free trips to China where the district administrators were treated to a dog-and-pony show.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mother Tongue
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 1, 2010 at 7:20 am

Ohlonepar,

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

As I pointed out, there is no conflict of interest in free trips to China. These happen all the time, for different reasons and to different events, in this district and in others. It's interesting that you object only to trips to China.

And you don't like MI plus constructivism, but you concede you have absolutely no research to back up your nifty idea about an experiment combining summer and after-school, eh? More than a little inconsistent. You don't seem to understand the difference between having no data and being ignorant of the data.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by confused
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Feb 1, 2010 at 12:39 pm

"It's interesting that you object only to trips to China. "

Why?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 1, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Mother Tongue,

All the time, really? Junkets with anonymous funding? Guess what, I do object to that on principle.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

No research? Hardly. There's AMPLE research that short-term immersion works and so does ongoing support of a language afterwards.

Indeed, this style of language instruction is standard in Europe. Kids learn English in a non-immersion setting during the year and attend English camps during the Summer.

And Europeans speak English.

Constructivism plus language immersion, however, has had issues. Unlike the model I suggest, which actually has a strong track record, student-led learning combined with dual-immersion does not.

Which is why the Ohlone program has been leaning heavily on experts in an effort to try to make it work.

I suspect that it will be a relief to everybody concerned when the board gets its act together and finally opens Garland and moves the program there--providing the program still exists.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mother Tongue
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 1, 2010 at 5:03 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by confused
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Feb 1, 2010 at 6:07 pm

"It is evident but cannot be spoken."

Still not getting it. I'm pretty sure you realize Voldemort is a fictional character.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mother Tongue
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 1, 2010 at 6:22 pm

But the editors are unfortunately not, so hints will have to suffice. Think: It is the unlove that dare not speak its name.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 1, 2010 at 7:22 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 1, 2010 at 8:04 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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