Language learning has historically been thought of in this country as something primarily for the elite – or for the hopelessly geeky. Now that we live in a global world this attitude needs to change. Our children need to learn other languages to fluency and they need to become comfortable with cultures other than their own.
Languages are a passport to success and wealth every bit as much as a talent for maths or balance sheets, says Gabriella White, a young British entrepreneur and linguist who works in international marketing and journalism, among other fields. White, aged 27, speaks multiple languages and those languages have allowed her to thrive in the new world order.
Schools need to implement comprehensive, thoughtful language instruction beginning at an early age. The subject needs to be given enough time in the schedule to allow students to reach mastery before graduation. We need to move quickly toward allowing students the opportunity to add additional languages upon entry to high school. In mid-coast Maine, where the population is homogeneous, we must also give our children experiences with people from other cultures. These programs would pave the way for our youth to take their places in the new global economy.