Language Education in America
Hello everyone! Lately, the weather has been changing, and it almost seems more like winter than fall.
Today, I’d like to talk about language education in America. In Japan, I have noticed that most students begin learning English in middle school, and continue learning through high school and university. I find it very strange that more students don’t have the option to learn a language other than English.
In America, we typically only have mandatory language classes beginning in high school—and even then, they are only required for two years of the total four years in high school. Languages offered by each school vary, but almost every school offers classes in Spanish because of the high population of Spanish speakers in America. Most of the high schools in my neighborhood offered a selection of Spanish, French, or German. Students were required to choose a language and study it for two years. My school also offered Latin as one of the available language options. When I was in high school, I was quite jealous because our rival school offered Japanese in addition to the normal set of languages as well!
After high school, language classes are typically required in college as well, but colleges in America tend to offer more languages than their Japanese counterparts with more advanced classes. I was actually quite surprised that out of the few language classes the university I attended in Japan had, several of them only had the most basic level available, including German! Even Chinese, which is considered the second most popular foreign language class after English, only offered basic classes and one business class.
I suppose there is a good reason for Japan wanting to prioritize English language education rather than educating its students in a multitude of languages, but still I can’t help thinking it’s a shame they don’t diversify the languages available.