Utah trying out dual-language immersion classes

Spanish, Chinese, French being taught to children from Day 1 of their education

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  • me2wired
    July 13, 2010 5:56 p.m.

    Wow Watch Dog, why not get out of your xenophobic attitude and actually visit another country. So that you can speak from experience rather than wild conspiracy theories.

  • On the other hand
    July 13, 2010 4:39 p.m.

    @Watch Dog, most countries with more than one official language suffer from struggles between ethnic groups, but you can hardly blame those struggles on the languages spoken. US history is replete with ethnic and regional conflict in the absence of linguistic barriers. Even today a significant number of Alaskans--whose language and culture are absolutely American--favor succession from the union. Many English-speaking Hawaiians feel the same way about their state. On the other hand, Switzerland is a shining example of a multilingual state whose ethnic groups are, by and large, united in their promotion of a single Swiss identity and culture (which, like any culture, is subject to regional variation).

    We might also consider the example of Sweden. Although they have only one official language, Swedish, nearly 90% of Swedes 15 and older speak English. This bilingualism poses no threat to Swedish sovereignty but makes Swedes more competitive in the global marketplace.

    There's no a priori reason why multilingualism need lead to conflict. Certainly, we must insist that everyone learn English, as these programs do. But there's nothing to fear about bilingualism; it can be a great asset to our state and nation.

  • American Mother
    July 13, 2010 1:25 p.m.

    Also, regarding the completely valid concern about hindered learning of math and science, tests have shown that kids in these classes are testing at or above their peers. My daughter was in Mrs. Foote's class and her math and science skills are excellent, well above Kindergarten level. She'd explain to me all about what she learned and could explain it to me perfectly. I never even realized which things she been taught in Spanish or English. She understands them all well and can cross over just fine. I applaud the Jordan School District for offering such a wonderful, VOLUNTARY program and am grateful to take part.

  • American Mother
    July 13, 2010 1:23 p.m.

    There is absolutely nothing un-American about teaching kids a 2nd language. Sadly, it seems many people are upset by this story due to a feeling that Mexicans or the Spanish language in general are somehow inferior to us English speaking Americans. That way of thinking is elitist and ignorant. Learning another language not only helps kids become more culturally aware, but also allows their brains to build and use more synapses and facilitate life-long skill in that language and other languages down the road if desired. It has nothing to do with an attempt at assimilation. That's just ridiculous.

  • Watch Dog
    July 13, 2010 9:08 a.m.

    These multi-language con artists have no idea the damage they do to our country and culture. Show me a divided language country, and I will show you a country that has allowed the division among its people to divide and ultimately destroy the country.

    One of the biggest things this country had going for it was, even though we encourage much immigration, is that they all within a generation or two, assimilate. Permitting retention and common use of their own language ONLY promotes isolation for more generations.

    How absolutely foolish!

    Those that promote this idea actually are promoting failure of our country as a unified nation.

    The closest example is Canada. Quebec, unlike the rest of Canada, speaks French. This has promoted the ongoing secession talk for years and years. Many Quebec citizens won't even speak English to a visitor, so hot is the division they feel.

    It is NOT a good idea to tolerate!

  • guapetona33
    July 13, 2010 4:25 a.m.

    There is absolutely nothing unAmerican about teaching kids a 2nd language. Sadly, it seems many people are upset by this story due to a feeling that Mexicans or the Spanish language in general are somehow inferior to us English speaking Americans. That way of thinking is elitist and ignorant. Learning another language not only helps kids become more culturally aware, but also allows their brains to build and use more synapses and facilitate life-long skill in that language, which aids learning other languages down the road if desired.

    Also, regarding the concern over lessened learning of math/science (a completely valid concern), tests have shown that kids in these classes are testing at or above their peers. My daughter was in Mrs. Foote's class and her math and science skills are excellent, well above Kindergarten level. She'd explain to me all about what she learned and could explain it to me perfectly. I never even realized which things she been taught in Spanish or English. She understands them all well and can cross over just fine. I applaud the Jordan School District for offering such a wonderful program and am grateful to take part.

  • Still Open
    July 13, 2010 12:07 a.m.

    Ummm, yeah... James Madison was fluent in several modern and ancient languages. He was Princeton University's first graduate student. What did he choose to study? Hebrew. He would surely support such a program of study. How ironic.

  • Conservative Veteran
    July 12, 2010 2:43 p.m.

    I have only one problem with language immersion. Reading, writing and math should be exempt from early foreign language immersion.

    An example of my reasoning for saying so is that math concepts build on previously established concepts. If you don't pick up earlier foundational concepts, future learning is very challenging. I am concerned that while initially struggling with foundational concepts in reading, writing, and math that students will have lasting challenges in these core classes without additional needed intervention to correct the loss of foundational learning.

    I am all for early language immersion. Just exempt early immersion in reading, writing, and math until students can demonstrate solid language skills. I guess I believe you can satisfy those who want the early language immersion and those who want to make sure it doesn't hamper basic academic learning.

  • UtahBlueDevil
    July 12, 2010 7:46 a.m.

    Trueanerican.... the program is vaulentary. How is that forcing anyone to do anything?

    I don't agree with the NEA's agenda often, but at the same time, I see nothing wrong with Political Correctness.... what is wrong with treating others as you would like yourself to be treated. Is that such an offensive notion? Must be.

  • trueamerican
    July 12, 2010 5:59 a.m.

    Is anyone else fed up and sick of the NEA agenda and the politically correct game?

  • trueamerican
    July 12, 2010 5:58 a.m.

    What? A school requires all children to be taught in Spanish? Incredible. Talk about assimilating people. The wrong people are being assimilated. It ought to be the other way around.

  • Marie12
    July 10, 2010 10:42 a.m.

    I love languages. It is excellent concept to learn languages. Our children can be ahead of China and the world. We can have many of our children diplomats for the USA embassies and ahead of the business world and the trade market. We can make a lot of money; nations feel comfortable to open up when we do business in their native tongue. Go Utahns!!We are smart people. Utah could be the most business and international State in the world! Hello, Hola, Bonjour, god dag, haai, namaste, konnishi wa. Go Utahns!!!

  • sally
    July 10, 2010 9:07 a.m.

    I didn't know this was a new program. In another state our oldest daughter learned spanish in the first grade. That was back in the late 1970's. She then went on to learn French in high school. Interesting the educators are making such a big deal about this program.

  • spudprincess
    July 10, 2010 8:36 a.m.

    Wow! Very many extremely ignorant comments on here. This is why the USA and Utah especially get a bad rap. Of course there you don't care because you are so arrogant.

    I have lived abroad in 4 different countries. For starters, even living abroad in a country it is VERY difficult to learn a new language! Especially when you can get by without learning it. Are you all socialists? Learn our language or ELSE? This country was founded on immigrants and people speaking many different languages. And if you want to get technical about learning your country's language then you all should have learned Native American when you arrived!

    I taught at schools all over the world. And I taught at an immersion school here in the states. I taught first grade where only 45 min. of English was taught per day. All the students at that school tested higher in English, Science and Math than any other students in the district. Do your research!!!! You will see it only benefits and doesn't take away. Or continue to live in your ignorance as you have for so long and are so comfortable with it.

  • facts_r_stubborn
    July 9, 2010 5:55 p.m.


    You make some good points and I largely agree, with one exception. Many of those who don't want these programs will work hard to make sure no one can have them. That's why I'm glad I entered the conversation, so that those like me who value education and knowledge, can have a choice to have our children be fluent in English and in a foreign language.

    I agree that learning a second language has great value for the purposes you mention. I also agree that someone living in Utah will probably do just fine without being fluent in a second language, (me for example.) However, I don't agree that it would have no value for someone who lives their entire life in Utah and never travels on business etc.

    One value is those who learn a second language not only gain appreciation for other cultures and languages, but that same knowledge enhances their appreciation of and skills functioning in their own language and culture.

    Utah students should have the choice, especially considering how inexpensive these programs are. If no one uses them, fine, but these programs are turning students away.

  • cerana
    July 9, 2010 5:16 p.m.

    Unity happens when people speak a common language. Learning a second language ( which one? ) is great. But to be living in the US, American English should be the language for business and classroom instructions. I think speaking different languages created diversity and dramas (problems) among us.

  • UtahBlueDevil
    July 9, 2010 3:22 p.m.

    One of the issues of living or being from Utah is the world gets cast as being either Black or white, good or evil, with me or against me. The reality is on some things, there truly is a right or wrong. But on many, it really is at a personal level.

    For someone who has no aspirations of leaving the state of Utah, staying Zion bound, learning other languages probably is a waste of time. Nothing wrong with that. For others who love to experience other cultures, work internationally, or serve missions among other people, learning other cultures is absolutely.

    So, personally, I apologize for getting sucked into this conversation. This is one issue where there is no right answer. It is a matter of personal choice. The nice thing is as I understand it, these programs are voluntary. So if you like them, take advantage of them. If you don't, don't. But to pretend there is an absolute answer here is an over reaching assumption to make.

  • On the other hand
    July 9, 2010 8:17 a.m.

    @James Madison, your observations are interesting, but for the purpose of judging the value of Utah's immersion curriculum, they're not worth much. You assert that the English skills of today's university students are substandard, but you provide only vague anecdotal evidence to support your claim. You assert that you've had many multilingual students and that in your experience their multilingualism hasn't helped them "one iota," but you haven't told us what you've done to assess their multilingualism, to determine the ways in which it might or might not help them, and to measure the degree to which it is or isn't helping them.

    Finally, from this murky soup of impressions you conclude that we need to "get back to basics" and eliminate language immersion. As a university instructor who claims to value analytical skils, you must realize that the "evidence" you present here does not adequately support your conclusion, and that your methodology is neither robust nor objective. There are good, sound, empirical methods for analyzing the merits of various approaches to foreign language instruction, and those are the methods that must inform our foreign language instruction decisions.

  • UtahBlueDevil
    July 9, 2010 7:05 a.m.

    James Madison..... we'll just have to disagree with. I work with the students at two levels. I lecture on International Business, and I am on the hiring team from my company. Right now I see kids from India, who are well educated in their home countries, have done their undergraduate work in Europe, then graduate work here in the states, have such a huge advantage of our kids that only know their own back yard and home language. Companies are dying for talent that can bridge both linguistic and cultural differences.

    No, I don't teach full time. But I have been guest lecturing at the post graduate level for over 20 years, at many schools across the nation. If that doesn't count for much... thats ok.

  • facts_r_stubborn
    July 8, 2010 10:26 p.m.

    @ 5:55 p.m. I posted: "Your earlier assertion that some bilingual students in your classroom don't speak either language well is not well grounded. If you only speak English, how would you know?"

    @James Madison 7:59 p.m. you posted:

    "Where did I say that? Please provide the quote."

    @James Madison 8:31 p.m. July 4, 2010 you posted:

    "In fact, in my observations I have witnessed just the opposite to be true. The students have no mastery over any of the languages they speak, especially English! masters of several languages, masters of none."

    Not an exact quote, but I think I summed up your meaning quite well.

    By the way, what say you about the national reading statistics showing students participating in dual language immersion programs having 20% better English reading scores than American native English speakers who do not participate in such a program? Looks like your anecdotal teaching experiences are not backed up by the facts nationally. Perhaps there are other factors at work in your classroom. Did you do a poll of native english speakers to see how many of them did dual immersion programs?

  • James Madison
    July 8, 2010 7:59 p.m.

    @ facts_r_stubborn | 5:55 p.m.

    "Your earlier assertion that some bilingual students in your classroom don't speak either language well... "

    Where did I say that? Please provide the quote.

  • facts_r_stubborn
    July 8, 2010 6:17 p.m.

    National standardized English reading scores for dual language participants are 20% higher by the sixth grade than the average native English speaker.

    -Thomas & Collier, 2002

    Learning a second language at an early age...
    Has a positive effect on intellectual growth.
    Enriches and enhances a child's mental development.
    Leaves students with more flexibility in thinking, greater sensitivity to language, and a better ear for listening.
    Improves a child's understanding of his or her native language.
    Gives a child the ability to communicate with people he or she would otherwise not have had the chance to know.
    Opens the door to other cultures and helps the child understand and appreciate people from other countries.
    Gives the child a head start in language requirements for college.
    Increases job opportunities in many careers in which knowing another language is a real asset

    -Canyons School District, Sandy

  • facts_r_stubborn
    July 8, 2010 5:55 p.m.

    @James Madison

    I give you credit for a few important points. I agree that our education system is in dire need of improvement. I agree that American students overall are falling behind. You didn't say it here, but one area that really needs improvement is the "hard" subjects, like math, science and engineering. Also, the lack of parental commitment to their children's education, and overwhelmed single parent families is another reason we are falling behind. On that much we probably agree 100%.

    Where we disagree is in your "scarcity mentality." Just because we need all of the above doesn't mean we can't also have foreign language immersion programs in the public schools. Also, the argument that everyone speaks English in China is nonsense.

    I've been to China a few times on business trips. Almost no one old enough to be doing business spoke English. I used interpreters. What a huge advantage it would have been for me if I were fluent in Mandarin!

    Your earlier assertion that some bilingual students in your classroom don't speak either language well is not well grounded. If you only speak English, how would you know?

  • facts_r_stubborn
    July 8, 2010 5:26 p.m.

    @what the?

    I think you are missing the point here. Again the dual immersion program is primarily to educate Utah students to be fluent in not only English but one other language. It's not taking anything away, it is adding to. This is not about accomadating someone so they don't have to learn English.

    That's why this whole argument that some posts have been making about official language and persons here illegally is so rediculous and off topic.

    All of my six children are U.S. citizens and our American roots go back to the 16th century. I would send every one of my children through a dual language program if they were still young enough to do so.

    My point is these programs are for all Utah students who have the opportunity to participate, because their school offers such a program. There is no requirement to participate as some posts have suggested.

    Any posters who mention English as an official language or bring up immigration issues are just looking for a new forum to discuss an unrelated issue.

  • James Madison
    July 8, 2010 5:01 p.m.

    @ UtahBlueDevil

    So you don't teach.

    I do teach, on the university level, both undergraduate and graduate classes. I've seen what the high schools have been churning out since the early 90s. The students know little or nothing about English grammar; hence they can neither speak intelligently nor write a coherent sentence (and forget writing cursive). Most of them can barely read a college text book; their reading comprehension is deplorable and their analytical skills are practically nonexistent. These kids do not know how to think. They've been dumbed down and told what to think.

    I've had more multilingual students than I can count. From what I've witnessed, it's not helped them one iota.

    The educational system in this country has failed. When I was a student in public school, the U.S. was #1 in education, world-wide. Now, we're at the bottom of the top 20 industrial nations. Today, more than anything, we need to get back to basics--reading, writing, and arithmetic in ENGLISH. Let's immerse our children in real education, as opposed to this politically correct, dumbed down tripe that's being passed off on them at present.

  • what the?
    July 8, 2010 3:38 p.m.

    I for one think that my child going in to kindergarten should be more concerned if he's coloring in the lines, writing his name correctly, learning words that he can recognize by sight, becoming more socially integrated in the community.

  • what the?
    July 8, 2010 3:19 p.m.

    From what Cincinnatus said that congress has never made English the official language. This is true!! I looked every where and could not find it. I do agree that anyone who comes here should learn English to succeed.

    attentive Asks if any one is aware that English is the official language of Utah. I did know that. According to the Utah Administrative code that took effect on June 1, 2010 rule number R765-136. It encourages the teaching of a second language but not using it in a total immersion process. It also mentions that it encourages it as an integral and important part of higher education.

    According to U.S. English, the following states have existing official language laws on their books: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Wyoming. A small handful date back more than a few decades, such as Louisiana (1811) and Nebraska (1920), but most official language statutes were passed since the 1970's

  • UtahBlueDevil
    July 8, 2010 2:57 p.m.

    Mr. James Madison...Lets see, I have been working with Universities now for about 27 years, two schools of which are nationally top 20 schools, though that isn't my day job. I lead a business development unit for a multinational doing about 3 billion in revenue a year. My wife on the other hand does teach at a university - let me see if you can figure which one.

    So pray tell.... why don't reveal your professional credentials.

    I have yet seen you cite one shred of either personal evidence or referenced other work where said education is "an excuse to not measure up". It is fine to think this stuff isn't for you or your family.... I am sure you will do fine hunkered down in an all US world. But many actually want to have their kids be able to compete in a global economy.

  • facts_r_stubborn
    July 8, 2010 2:50 p.m.

    @On the other hand,

    If you followed the poltical blogs on the D News you would know that @James Madison is one of the angry irrational radical right that can't be confused with facts, and who refuse to ground any of their assertions and assessments. They appear to be driven entirely by angry emotions and demagogic unsubstantiated opinions. Strange to find @James Madison claiming to be an educator. From my studies of the real James Madison, this cat couldn't be any more different. James Madison was a consumate negotiater, using facts and reason, building consensus and bridge building. He was a far cry from those who are consistently and easily beset by anger, arrogance and unresearched opinions.

  • what the?
    July 8, 2010 2:42 p.m.

    I for one have a child getting ready for Kindergarten. I want him taught in his, "primary" language that way he will learn and understand the things being taught. I myself didn't start to learn spanish until I was in middle school, and even then it wasn't total immersion. In high school I took it because it was a requirement. After, I went on a mission to Brasil. When I was there nobody spoke in English to me, in fact a lot of people made fun of English. They weren't required to make accommodations for me, when it came to English, so why, should we be required to do it for them?. In Mexico you are required to speak in Spanish, they are not required to learn English, so that they may understand us. We are constantly making accommodations for them, yet they make none to help themselves to better communicate themselves to us. Even with the small amount I did in school with Spanish, I was able to speak in, and able to hold a conversation in Spanish. I for one, do not feel total immersion of especially Kindergarteners is a beneficial thing.

  • facts_r_stubborn
    July 8, 2010 2:10 p.m.

    On the other hand,

    Quite the scholar and very impressive. I concur 100% with your assertion.

    Mandarin is clearly one of the most important languages of the future, and deserves to be up there with Spanish and French. It is probably even more important in the future business world.

    I knew about 800 kanji (Chinese characters,) with Japanese words at one point in college. Studying Japanese kept me in the library studying my major. I really feel I owe much of my academic success to the self-discipline of learning another language.

  • On the other hand
    July 8, 2010 2:07 p.m.

    @James Madison, I'm not sure what you're driving at, but I take your response to mean that you aren't aware of any substantive research that supports your position. I'm not aware of any research that supports your position, either.

    How long have you been teaching?

  • facts_r_stubborn
    July 8, 2010 1:57 p.m.

    Studies show that children learn languages so much more easily and fluently when they start in elementary school rather than Jr. High. Many other countries are beginning to enjoy long term competitive advantages over the U.S. because their students learn English in grade school and can function in the world marketplace in at least two languages. Mandarin is spoken by more people than any other language in the world, in a country that is the most populous and is destined to become the world's number one economy in the next two decades. Utah public schools are pioneers in this area. The stakes for our nation's future could not be higher. Either we will keep our education up to par with other nations, or we will become a second class nation, instead of the world's leader. If the next generation of Americans will continue to lead the world it all begins with a world class education. Under-educated Americans do not lead, they do not innovate and they usually do not have the power and capability to design successful lives for themselves, their families and others. Naysayers who make this an illegal immigration issue are clueless.

  • jjc16
    July 8, 2010 1:41 p.m.

    @Independent -- I would generally guess that learning a second language really does help students to master the first more completely. It really did with me when I learned Spanish, and more so with my wife who speaks multiple languages. She can easily recognize a variety of harder words in English (i.e. "pulverize") because of the Latin roots ("pulvo" = "dust" in Spanish); and she even knows a few words that I didn't until she explained them to me (like "venial").

  • James Madison
    July 8, 2010 1:29 p.m.

    @ On the other hand | 12:40 p.m.

    I'll answer you by asking you the same question I asked UtahBlueDevil: How many years have you been teaching?

  • Independent
    July 8, 2010 1:10 p.m.

    I was a Spanish Immersion student back in the eighties. I can't tell you how valuable it has been. I understand that some people may fear that immersion programs prevent kids from learning English. Actually, quite the opposite was true for me. It seemed that the Spanish Immersion kids generally read and wrote English at higher levels than regular students. Kids aren't learning less of the core subjects because of immersion. They just learn another language while they're at it, so it broadens their understanding of the world and even makes some concepts easier to understand. For example, knowing Spanish has helped me to easily recognize the latin roots in scientific terminology. I don't see any down side to teaching kids a second language.

  • Utah Dem
    July 8, 2010 12:56 p.m.

    SLars asked - I think this is a good idea, but question how the school officials know what the language of the future will be?

    In my local district which will be starting dual immersion this fall in two of our elementary schools - we surveyed the parents of all Kindergarten students to find out if they would support this program and if so would they enroll their child(ren) and which language they would prefer. Spanish came in number one, Chinese had a fair number of votes and French was a distant third.
    So we did look for 'the language of the future' but what parents desired and also if we could find the right teachers to teach in the various subjects in the foreign language. Educators are smarter than many give them credit for.

  • On the other hand
    July 8, 2010 12:50 p.m.

    @Monsieur le prof, I agree that French and Spanish are important, useful languages for Americans. But surely the fact that Mandarin has both more native speakers (by a factor of 2.5, according to SIL's Ethnologue) and more total speakers than any other language in the world makes it important, too. It's true that Chinese orthography has a logographic component, but that doesn't prevent them from transliterating foreign words as necessary, leveraging the phonetic component of their writing system. And Chinese is just as capable as French when it comes to naming new objects or concepts, for example 播客 'podcast', 电脑 or 计算机 'computer', 磁共振成像 'magnetic resonance imaging'.

    I realize that schools must be selective when providing language programs and that the vast majority of world languages won't make the cut. But Chinese ought to be a strong contender, alongside Spanish, French and a few others.

  • On the other hand
    July 8, 2010 12:41 p.m.

    @Monsieur le prof, I agree that French and Spanish are important, useful languages for Americans. But surely the fact that Mandarin has both more native speakers (by a factor of 2.5, according to SIL's Ethnologue) and more total speakers than any other language in the world makes it important, too. It's true that Chinese orthography has a logographic component, but that doesn't prevent them from transliterating foreign words as necessary, leveraging the phonetic component of their writing system. And Chinese is just as capable as French when it comes to naming new objects or concepts; for example, where French has baladodiffusion, ordinateur, and imagerie par rsonance magntique, Mandarin has 播客, 电脑 or 计算机, and 磁共振成像. And while it's true that some college courses in China are being taught in English, I cannot believe (nor can I find any evidence to support) the notion that the Chinese want to abandon Mandarin in favor of English.

    I realize that schools must be selective when providing language programs and that the vast majority of world languages won't make the cut. But Chinese ought to be a strong contender, alongside Spanish, French and a few others.

  • On the other hand
    July 8, 2010 12:40 p.m.

    @James Madison,

    Since you "get it," show us the research that supports your opinion. I think you're imagining things, which is a terrible way to craft public policy.

  • Conservative Veteran
    July 8, 2010 12:35 p.m.

    I love the idea of teaching our children other languages at an early age. To do so has nothing but advantages. I do, however, question the wisdom of teaching math in the secondary language. Math is step building learning where concepts learned early are critical to later math learning. My concern is that if the young students struggle with understanding during this early period of foundation learning, it may lead to further struggles in math down the road - where many students struggle even in their own native language.

    Teach the secondary language - beginning in kindergarden. But, teach reading, writing, AND math in English.

  • James Madison
    July 8, 2010 12:11 p.m.

    @ Kitenoa | 8:38 a.m

    "... dual immersion is an experiment at best, an excuse NOT to measure up, but to dumb down English proficiency."

    You're one of the few who seems to get it.

  • P
    July 8, 2010 12:03 p.m.

    @ attentive | 5:07 p.m. July 3, 2010
    Not_Scared - since you live in Sacramento, why do you take such an interest in things happening in Utah? I'm not being sarcastic, I honestly wonder. Are you planning to move to Utah? CA is definitely a greater melting pot than Utah. But in the late 80's we here in Utah started seeing more and MORE CA license plates and our crime rates went way up and a lot of people, myself included, had to make the connection

    Not_Scared can state their interest in Utah but mant who do not live in Utah (and may not want to) have interests there (1)Own property (2)Pay Taxes (3)Have family (4)My employer is headquartered there (5)People move here from Utah. You are not an island!

    In my case i have a grandchild in a school that has the immersion program and parents are thrilled with the opportunity, his progress and it seems to be working well.

    Maybe we should teach "Utahn dialect" so everyone can understand that Hurricane is really prounced Hurrycan or Huracan !

  • jazzfanz
    July 8, 2010 11:45 a.m.

    The only way to limit the illegal or undocumented...what ever you want to name them is not to help them with the language. Go to hospital, you will see spanish signs. Go to school, there is a teacher assistant to help them...Basically, translators or interpretors are available everywhere and anywhere. It is so convenient for them to live and not have to learn english. Obama, please do the immigration reform by demanding not helping those illegals any medicaid or language.

  • Monsieur le prof
    July 8, 2010 10:14 a.m.

    @Ontheotherhand: You did not read my post carefully. I never said that China et al were not important. I said their languages were not. Look at the working languages of almost every organisation in the world including the UN and the Olympics: English and French, and sometimes Spanish.

    Almost all countries/languages are using the English terms for their business and computer affairs. Mandarin is not a phonetic language and does not assimilate technical terms readily. I'm not sure about Hindi. The Chinese are switching to English as fast as they can, and are trying to make it their primary language.

    I am not belittling any tongue. I love languages and wish I spoke them all. I wish my Spanish, Italian, and German were better. I was only pointing out that French is closer to English than any other language and, after English, is the second most taught as a second language in the world.

    French lyces are more like JC's than HS's. Ergo, the comparison between oranges and apples. Their FL methods are grammatically based and so they fare no better than we in teaching them.

  • James Madison
    July 8, 2010 9:47 a.m.

    @ UtahBlueDevil | 8:24 a.m

    How many years have you been teaching?

  • Teha Rangi
    July 8, 2010 8:42 a.m.

    Granite School District has a couple of great videos on its YouTube channel that demonstrate its language immersion program.

    Just Google: Granite School District dual immersion

  • xscribe
    July 8, 2010 8:42 a.m.

    It's utterly amazing that anyone would be against this. The human brain is wired to learn language at an early age, and the older one gets - around 10 years old - it becomes so much harder to learn a foreign language. Our family is upset about our public school system not offering these language classes in elementary school as mandatory, which just shocks me that a majority of others on this post are more about, "This is America, learn English." Those of us born here speak English and will never lose the language, but as a country we are blowing our chance to have our kids be multilingual at an early age, a skill that in the long run will benefit the US as a whole. But unfortunately we have more people in this country, it seems, who are too short-sighted to understand the implications of being the only country whose kids can't speak a second language. But I guess one of the posters in the beginning says it best, when they say, I'm not a global person. That speaks volumes.

  • Kitenoa
    July 8, 2010 8:38 a.m.

    Realistically, the prohibitive factor here is limited resources, MONEY. Can we afford to take this lofty path, making dual immersion a priority, in light of the overall failure to educate the mass of students in public schools? Although a worthy long term goal, it is the wrong priority to emphasize now. Finally, what limited number of deserving languages do we choose to support fairly or exclude from this program?

    Granted these are my realities, and cummulative observations over many years, while visiting class rooms of the inner city schools. Sadly for the moment, dual immersion is an experiment at best, an excuse NOT to measure up, but to dumb down English proficiency.

  • ipr
    July 8, 2010 8:38 a.m.

    I was born in the Netherlands and by the time I graduated from high school I spoke 4 languages: Dutch, English, French and German. My (American) children grew up with Dutch as their primary language. When we moved to Germany they picked up German in just a few months and even picked up the local accent. My children are tri-lingual now. Actually my son is quadro-lingual, after having picked up Portuguese on his mission. Children pick up languages so easily, so encourage them. Oh, and when I got my Ph.D. in Physics, I had a foreign language requirement ... I chose computer programming. That too is a language. And what if you "forget" a language, because you don't use it? It's amazing, it comes back really rapidly when you immerse yourself again, such as when you visit a country. The brain is an amazing thing!

  • UtahBlueDevil
    July 8, 2010 8:24 a.m.

    James Madison... you do know your name sake thought learning foriegn languages was very important, he himself learning Latin, Greek and Hebrew. He didn't think it was a bad idea...

    Actually, I spent 5 years as a kid in a foreign country and did part of my education in that countries language. You know what, 2 + 2 was still 4 regardless of the language. A Noun was still a Noun. Scientific theories were the same in the other language as they were in english. Some how feeling because something is spoken about in another language makes if harder to learn is a load of bunk.

  • James Madison
    July 8, 2010 5:53 a.m.

    It's been nearly a week since this article was originally published.

    Why is it back?

    Why has the publication date been changed?

    It was a bad idea on the 2nd and still a bad idea today.

  • On the other hand
    July 8, 2010 2:02 a.m.

    @Kitenoa 10:47 p.m. No one is proposing to force students to participate in these programs; if, for whatever reason, parents feel their child should be in an exclusively English-speaking environment, they will have that option. But:

    1. to eliminate the programs altogether based on a gut feeling that they could be detrimental to a minority of students (specifically, limited English proficiency students) would do a tremendous disservice to the majority of students, and

    2. gut feelings notwithstanding, research suggests that immigrant children in two-way immersion programs, such as the ones Utah is implementing, do better than their "mainstreamed" peers not only in subjects like math but also in English and their native language. Native English-speaking children in two-way immersion programs also outperform their monolingual peers in both math and English. And the presence of speakers of both languages in the same classroom helps both groups with their second language skills.

    @attentive, if I could attempt a paraphrase of your remarks: "What we're doing isn't working. Why should we try something different?" Here's why: because research tells us that students in programs like these do better in school overall.

  • Kitenoa
    July 7, 2010 10:47 p.m.

    @On The Other Hand 10:08 AM. That is just the point, an increasing number of children in the United States (and Utah) are raised in "non-English speaking environments". They do NOT have the solid foundation to be proficient in English by kidergarten. Far from it. Concentrating of learning English first is a safe primary approach for the majority of public k12 students.

    Furthermore, I do agree with you that we are at a disadvantage internationally when it comes to navigating in another language. If a student's situation at home allows him the luxury of learning a second non-English language, by all means do so. More power to you in life.

  • attentive
    July 7, 2010 7:52 p.m.

    This language "immersion" thing is a waste of money and time. Our students can't keep up with their counterparts in other states as it is; why try to confuse them further?

    Anybody remember "Ebonics?" Oh, yeah...

  • Belching Cow
    July 7, 2010 3:16 p.m.

    Either Spanish or Chinese will be our official language someday so I would concentrate on those two.

  • On the other hand
    July 7, 2010 10:08 a.m.

    @Kitenoa, children born and raised in an English-speaking environment should have reasonably "solid" English skills by kindergarten, and those skills will continue to be reinforced and expanded upon at home and at school, even under the immersion programs described in this article.

    Of course Americans will continue to speak English; the status of English in America is not threatened in the least, despite what fearmongers say. But America's track record on speaking foreign languages is abysmal, which is a considerable loss to our nation both in terms of cognitive development and insasmuch as it limits our ability to communicate with the outside world. Critics will argue that the outside world increasingly speaks English, but they do so at their own discretion, and unless we can speak their language we are at their mercy to filter information as they choose.

    As one who speaks several languages, you know how useless a 300-word vocabulary would be. Children are not so stupid that they can't handle learning a language in earnest. The programs Utah is implementing are based on sound research and proven results. Utah's students are extremely fortunate to have access to them.

  • Kitenoa
    July 7, 2010 5:48 a.m.

    I remember in my youth (70s)when the US government pushed the metric system, KPH (kilometer per hour) to replace the MPH (miles per hour) traffic signs. That movement failed! The reliable and familiar MPH got us to where we wanted to go just fine.

    This dual immersion fad will come and go, while reliable and familiar English will continue to carry the day. English for America is sustainable.

  • Kitenoa
    July 7, 2010 5:12 a.m.

    Being confused in one language is difficult enough, now the public schools are confusing our children in TWO or more languages. How crazy is that?

    As a non-English speaking immigrant child, who now as an adult speaks fluently in 3 languages, my experience tells me to concentrate on solidifying English first, then have ONLY an introductory class (300 words or less vocabulary in another language) by choice for interested students. Do not force a new language upon a child for the sake of speaking another language. It is confusing enough as it is.

  • drmom
    July 6, 2010 2:12 p.m.

    Over 40 years of research on the benefits of dual immersion do not make for an educational "fad'. It makes for finally getting it right. The cost of the program is also marginal, in fact it is the least expensive way to become bilingual.In Utah,no additional FTE are being used, and we are blessed with teachers (through missions and otherwise)who are excellent teachers of Mandarin, French and yes, Spanish. Math and science taught in the target language are acquired just a well as in English - go back to the research again.

  • UtahBlueDevil
    July 6, 2010 10:36 a.m.

    Education bashing is silly. The difference between a kid getting a great education and one that merely gets by is not the system, but the parents. Lets be honest, all the schools have AIG, gifted programs, advanced placement programs, etc. It is up to the kids, and their parents, to work to be part of these programs.

    If you simply drop your kids off at the door of the school every morning, your kids aren't going to get much out of it. The real catalyst is what happens when the kids get home at 4.

    Parents need to stop blaming the schools. There have been kids that struggle in school since the beginning of time. You could have the smartest, most motivated teacher and if there is not support in the home, the kid is going to struggle. Until you can force the parents to do their part, not much is going to change. There is strong linkage between under achieving kids and parental participation. You will always have kids that can't keep up.

    Fix that problem, most problems go away. It isn't the hispanics that are making your kid do poorly in whatever.

  • On the other hand
    July 6, 2010 10:17 a.m.

    @Paul in MD, historically, American-born children of immigrants usually learn English well, and grandchildren of immigrants are almost always fluent English speakers. Do you have any statistics to back up your claims on limited English proficiency persisting for generations?

  • Paul in MD
    July 6, 2010 8:00 a.m.

    There used to be a requirement for citizenship that the applicant be able to speak and read English. I don't know that this is the case anymore.

    I think it is advantageous for kids to learn languages beyond English, but I also think we need to have an official language to unify the country. It used to be a source of pride in immigrants to learn English. My mother-in-law immigrated from Argentina in the 1950s to attend BYU. She wanted to learn English badly enough that she refused to be placed in the Spanish House. She wanted English-speaking roommates. She is now a citizen, raised four children, and is adamant that new immigrants should learn English.

    Our schools need to get back to the basics. There are too many schools cutting art and music to close budget gaps. Our elementary school had to cut back on math and science instruction to bulk up reading classes because the school ranked too low by No Child Left Behind standards. My kids in that school then had problems catching up in math and science in middle school.

  • Paul in MD
    July 6, 2010 7:52 a.m.

    Here in Maryland, we have Hispanic students taking Spanish in order to get an easy A. Quite often many get poor grades instead. Those students don't put in the effort required, and are not taught how to speak their parents' native language correctly.

    Many of those same students take English (not ESL) as required by Maryland, and also get poor grades, again because they don't put in enough effort. Compounding that is often a lack of support at home.

    Proficiency in English isn't poor just among immigrants or their children. It is poor among kids whose families have been here for several generations.

    Our country has no official language (although some states do). I don't know of another country in the world that doesn't, although I admit I haven't done an exhaustive search on this. One article I read says that in every Congress there has been an effort to have English declared the official language, but it has always failed.

  • UtahBlueDevil
    July 5, 2010 10:10 p.m.

    Ok, for all the neanderthals out there that think this is about making it so we can appease the illegals, well your just showing you still have your heads stuck back in the cave somewhere. Look at 95 percent of the products you use every day. The majority either have significant foreign content, or are completely foreign produced. This goes from the cars you drive, to the food on your table.

    Looking into the future, it you want to give your kids a good chance at success, they are going to need to be able to participate in their field of choice on a global level. You may want to circle the wagons and want to pretend we are going to be able to go back to a world where "buy American" is even a realistic option, but I am sorry that ship has sailed. US companies often derive more that 50% of their income from oversees customers.

    This goes everywhere from the average American Farmer, to those in the bleeding edge technologies of Pharma and High Tech. So don't fool yourself you are doing your kids any favors being "english" only.

  • attentive
    July 5, 2010 4:36 p.m.

    HCW: My point exactly. Thank you for weighing in.

  • HCW
    July 5, 2010 12:26 p.m.

    English and not Chinese,Spanish or Hinidi, is the language international commercial air pilots and air traffic controllers around the world are generally expected to speak. No bi-lingualism here. Just one universal language.

  • On the other hand
    July 4, 2010 10:24 p.m.

    @K, language instruction generally works better the more exposure you get, but it isn't true that one absolutely needs to hear both languages at home and school. A lot can be learned in a school setting, if the instruction is good and the students are serious about learning. Of course, as with any subject, if the students don't care, then their chances of learning decrease dramatically.

  • On the other hand
    July 4, 2010 10:15 p.m.

    @James Madison, for most university faculty, the ability to use foreign languages provides greater access to research authored by foreign colleagues. Maybe in your field everyone publishes in English; in most fields that simply isn't the case.

    I can't think of a reason why it would be detrimental to be able to communicate with people who speak a language other than English, but for some reason there are many Americans to whom it seems not to have occurred that such a skill (or such communication) might be valuable or interesting. Obviously, until you've tried it, you have little basis on which to judge.

    Regarding grammatical errors (real or imagined): "analytical skills" is probably preferable to "analysis skills", but you're really picking at nits there. The grammaticality of noun-noun phrases such as "soccer skills," "political science skills," and "computer skills" strongly suggests that "analysis skills" is okay, particularly in the larger phrase "critical thinking and analysis skills," which exhibits grammatical parallelism, unlike the phrase you suggest.

    As for the supposed effect of decreased literacy skills through foreign language study, I imagine there are confounding factors that you're not bothering to tease out.

  • K
    July 4, 2010 8:08 p.m.

    If they aren't speaking it at home it doesn't matter. I mean for those that want it, great. But if you are looking to make a generation multilingual they need to hear both languages at home and at school.

  • eagle
    July 4, 2010 4:40 p.m.

    Sorry, post should have read: learning Hindi ISN'T entirely useless...

  • eagle
    July 4, 2010 4:37 p.m.

    Probably learning Hindi is entirely useless but not all that essential. Pretty much all of the educated people that live in India speak English (quite well).

  • bulldog72
    July 4, 2010 9:39 a.m.

    @ Christy,

    I am not exaggerating...and that is what makes it especially sad. In fact, that kind of proves my point. These young men and women are just getting passed along because no one wants to be labeled prejudiced by failing someone who can't do the work because they are not literate. The fact remains that no one is making these students accountable and thus we are sending them out in to the world ill-prepared. I do not blame the students, I blame the system in place which allows them to get away with not really learning English. ESL is broken and needs to be fixed, but that will never happen in the current era of freebies, handouts, and excessive accommodations.

  • James Madison
    July 4, 2010 9:23 a.m.

    See, even I can't type without making a mess of it. Think what would happen if I knew more languages!

  • James Madison
    July 4, 2010 8:31 a.m.

    @ J in AZ | 4:52 p.m.

    Unfortunately, your reasons were not in the least compelling.

    Which "trading partner" language do you suggest I learn? Spanish? German? French? Chinese? Russian? Dutch? Japanese? Which of 100+ language would you recommend?

    Your claim that a second or third or fourth language will "improved literacy in your birth language and the improvement in critical thinking and analysis skills." I have seen no evidence of this whatsoever in my years of teaching on the university level. In fact, in my observations I have witnessed just the opposite to be true. The students have no mastery over any of the languages they speak, especially English! masters of several languages, masters of none.

    And insofar as "critical thinking and analysis [sic] skills" are concerned...you meant "analytical." I rest my case.

  • Utah Teacher
    July 4, 2010 8:20 a.m.

    I'm all for these programs. I just can't figure out how our state legislature can fund them when we are already the lowest in per pupil spending in the nation.

  • JBrady
    July 4, 2010 12:27 a.m.

    I also don't understand how people assume we will be speaking Spanish in the future.

    English has 508 million including second-language speakers, Spanish has 417 million including second-language speakers, Chinese (Mandarin) has 1,052 million including second language speakers.

    I hope they don't waste the children's time by teaching them the wrong language. Learning French in the fifth grade and SMSG in the seventh put me behind other students when the programs were dropped a year later.

  • danaslc
    July 4, 2010 12:17 a.m.

    Grover, were you born last year? Don't you read the paper.

  • Grover
    July 3, 2010 8:11 p.m.

    Welfare? Get off welfare Danasic?? Wake up friend... there has been no "welfare" (as you call it) since Clinton was President and no aid of any kind for people who are not legally here.

  • Facts Are Fun!
    July 3, 2010 6:38 p.m.

    Languages of the United States

    Official language(s):None

    Main language(s): English 82.1%, Spanish 10.7%, other Indo-European 3.8%, Asian and Pacific island languages 2.7%, other languages 0.7%

    Indigenous language(s): 204 (too many to name here)

    Main immigrant language(s): Spanish, Chinese, French, German, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Italian

    Main foreign language(s): Spanish, French, German, Italian, Japanese.

    Sign language(s): American Sign Language,
    Hawaii Pidgin Sign Language,
    Plains Indian Sign Language,
    Martha's Vineyard Sign Language

  • danaslc
    July 3, 2010 6:20 p.m.

    What a crock this is. Illegals need to teach their kids English unless they don't want to assimilate. My guess is they don't. They will have to get off of welfare and pay taxes.

  • wishenhopen
    July 3, 2010 6:14 p.m.

    Learning another language is an opportunity. To be able to communicate with one another is, and can be, only positive. Research backs the benefits to those so blessed but consider also, how global our lives are becoming. For parents interested in pursuing this education for their children (and assuming there are sufficient educators capable of teaching the curriculm) it can only lead to beneficial outcomes. America is a wonderful, grand, and free country but there are emerging economies in China, India and other areas of the world. Our children will be economically involved with all peoples when they are adults. What an advantage for those who can actually speak to each other?!

  • Not_Scared
    July 3, 2010 5:55 p.m.

    attentive | 5:07 p.m It was a dark and dreary night. It fact, it was the longest night of the year of 1952 in Ogden, Utah when I came in to this world. I was born into a LDS family who entered Utah in July 1947.

    My grandfather's family settled Kanab, Utah and they were called by Brigham to settle a canyon about 12 miles east of Kanab and a couple thousand miles east of Eden in Missouri where my family knew Joseph Smith. That canyon bears the name of my family. Another family member was the first to enter Zion Canyon.

    From there my family was called to establish a Mormon colony in Mexico named Colonia Diaz. This is why my grandfather spoke Spanis.

    There's my uncle Marv who headed the Speech Pathology Department at the U of U. He spoke Spanish so well he lectured in South America. My other uncle worked at BYU after teaching Spanish in Ogden.

    I saw Glenn Canyon before the bridge was built and I watched the dam being built. I crossed the river on the ferry at Hite.

    I have a passing interest in Utah.

  • pharmacist
    July 3, 2010 5:38 p.m.

    I am NOT in favor of this program at all. We have a very tight school buget, why are we waisting or school tax money on this un-thought throw program. Teach and ENGLISH immersion class for the legal and illegal mexians. English is the language of the land. Lets remember this next time the school districts wants to raise taxes. I promise here and now to vote against anymore money for the schools until they get it right. Could we maybe cut the wages of the people that thought this up, and give the money to the teachers on the front line??

  • Galileo
    July 3, 2010 5:34 p.m.

    Too many people in Utah have blinders on to the rest of the world. They can't think beyond the valley, let alone globally. Going on a mission when you're 19 doesn't really count, because it's such an insular environment and experience.

  • gb97
    July 3, 2010 5:10 p.m.

    I don't think the article gives enough details about immersion learning to understand how it is implemented and used. From the article, it sounds like math is taught only in the foreign language. I would have a hard time believing that's true.
    If it is, then this is a bad idea. I don't really think we need that since it is difficult enough for students to learn math in English. Learning a foreign language early on is a good idea, if implemented correctly without impeding learning in other areas.

  • attentive
    July 3, 2010 5:07 p.m.

    Not_Scared - since you live in Sacramento, why do you take such an interest in things happening in Utah? I'm not being sarcastic, I honestly wonder. Are you planning to move to Utah? CA is definitely a greater melting pot than Utah. But in the late 80's we here in Utah started seeing more and MORE CA license plates and our crime rates went way up and a lot of people, myself included, had to make the connection...

  • J in AZ
    July 3, 2010 4:52 p.m.

    James Madison | 12:01 p.m "why "should" I, one who was born in, educated in, lives in, and works in the United States of America learn to speak Spanish, or Mandarin, for that matter?

    Give me one compelling reason."

    Why should you learn at least one language of a major U.S. trading partner? Leaving aside all the benefits to improved literacy in your birth language and the improvement in critical thinking and analysis skills, which apparently mean nothing to many of the posters here, let's consider employment opportunities. In a global economy, which we have, people who speak more than one language have a distinct advantage over people who don't. Even if you are just the cashier at Maverik.

  • Not_Scared
    July 3, 2010 4:33 p.m.

    "* Spanish is only useful if you're selling things to Hispanics? Can't you think of one other reason why an American might want to speak Spanish?"

    There are many reasons to learn Spanish. You learn about English. You learn the problem of translations. Spanish is similar to Italian and other Latin rooted languages.

    "Excuse me. We live in the United States of America. We speak ENGLISH!!!!!" When was this the case? You really might learn something interesting if you challenge this belief.

    Here in Sacramento people speak Spanish, Russian, Ukrainian, Chinese, German and other languages. I can order sausage in German or food in Spanish.

  • attentive
    July 3, 2010 4:15 p.m.

    Just one more item: as we continue to cater to ANY other languages other than English we take on the extra burden of publishing anything of importance in other languages too - as Spanish-speaking people make up just 15% of our population, what are we sending as a message to all others? Shouldn't we also embrace Navajo and Vietnamese and Japanese and German and all other languages to not leave anyone out? Can anyone see where all this is headed as we try so hard to be politically correct that we drain all our resources on being different instead of united? How many languages should a driver's handbook be available in? 1? 2? 7? Who do we choose to leave out when we start dividing it all up? If we stick with English, then we are more united, we save our country money in the long run, and instead of creating MORE diversity among people, we lessen it.

  • evensteven
    July 3, 2010 4:03 p.m.


    Have you never heard of social promotion or grade inflation? They graduate because they are of age and it would hurt their delicate little egos were they to be denied a diploma because of something as silly as illiteracy or incompetence.



  • remark
    July 3, 2010 3:53 p.m.

    Excuse me. We live in the United States of America. We speak ENGLISH!!!!! Let the foriegners learn English. Whenever I need to call a tech person in India I insist on speaking to someone who speaks perfect english with no accent.

  • Not_Scared
    July 3, 2010 2:53 p.m.

    M | 2:33 p.m at 12 my friends daughter in Germany spoke good English. Other nation value education. The idea of intellectual elitism as being negative would seem foreign to them. Here being stupid and mediocre has become a goal. For too many education stops when you leave school.

  • Christy
    July 3, 2010 2:52 p.m.


    If they speak 'very little' English, then how on earth can they graduate? Are you exaggerating?

  • On the other hand
    July 3, 2010 2:46 p.m.

    @Monsieur le prof, what makes you think:

    * Mandarin and Hindi cannot come up with new words for new products? All languages have access to essentially the same linguistic mechanisms for creating new terms for new things.

    * China, Taiwan, Singapore, and India are unimportant countries? The fact that they are key trade partners with burgeoning economies suggests otherwise, as do the huge populations of China and India.

    * Spanish is only useful if you're selling things to Hispanics? Can't you think of one other reason why an American might want to speak Spanish?

    I'll give you that, given comparable instruction time and exposure to the language, American students and European students demonstrate comparable fluency. However, consider just how much foreign language instruction and exposure American students are getting vis-a-vis their European counterparts. I disagree that the comparison is apples to oranges. The fact of the matter is that European students are learning languages (to varying degrees) to a much greater extent and much more successfully than American students are.

  • M
    July 3, 2010 2:33 p.m.

    I wish I was lucky enough to have this program when I was in school. I'm 21 now, and I speak... English. Just English.

    Most developed countries throughout the world require their children to learn at least two languages (usually one of them is English). But Americans just have to be different, don't they?

  • Not_Scared
    July 3, 2010 1:40 p.m.

    Spanish is part of Utah and the West. There is the Colorado River, La Sal, Mountains, The San Jaun River, Abajo Mountains Santa Clara and Spanish Fork. Nevada is Spanish. Spanish names flavor Califoria like Yerba Buena.

    The word canyon is rooted in Spanish. Spanish is an American language think of all the Americans in South America, Central America and North America that speak Spanish. Most Americans speak Spanish and not English.

    When the Spanish came to California they build churches. Settlers from New England build brothels and saloons.

  • James Madison
    July 3, 2010 1:39 p.m.

    In Miami, Florida, there are first and second generation Americans from Spanish-speaking countries who can barely speak English (and they went to public schools in Miami)!

    The FACT is the schools are NOT teaching English as they should.


    Learn English FIRST! Learn to read it; learn to write it; learn to speak it properly. Then, if you want, learn another language.

  • Christy
    July 3, 2010 1:15 p.m.

    The importance of America and England? Chinese is useless?? We should all be learning French???

    "Spanish is marginally useful if you are a merchant selling to Hispanics." says Monsieur le prof.

    Oh, oui, oui!


  • bulldog72
    July 3, 2010 12:51 p.m.

    @On the other hand

    Evidence? How about first-hand observations. I am a high school teacher, and I have seen WAY too many students use ESL as an easier way to get through school and to not be subject to the accountability that all other students are subject to. They speak very little English when they graduate - certainly not enough to carry on basic conversations like a Missionary can. I feel terrible for these students because the system is failing them. Look at who the biggest proponents of English-only legislation are (total immersion, only English is spoken in the schools)--- the parents of non-native speakers, because they see their kids denied the same opportunities that they do not have access to because the system does not make them accountable to learn it. ESL is broken, and it needs to be fixed. Official language or not, the inability to speak English closes a LOT of doors in this country.

  • Monsieur le prof
    July 3, 2010 12:47 p.m.

    Having a large number of speakers does not make a language important. Being useful does. English's ability to invent new words for new products is one reason people use it. That and the importance of America and England. That's why learning Chinese and Hindi is useless. Spanish is marginally useful if you are a merchant selling to Hispanics.

    Because of our close linguistic and historical ties, French should be the language of choice. It is better than Latin for learning root words. 70% of our vocabulary can be traced back to French because of the Norman invasion of 1066, thus its study will increase our English vocabulary. Most of our students are already familiar with the Count of Monte Cristo, the Three Musketeers, and Les Miserables.

    Learning a second language is a great benefit, but should not detract from learning the primary one. European students study several languages, but are NOT proficient in any of them, certainly no better than our students are, unless they've had the opportunity to study abroad in the target language.

    Comparing European schools to American schools is comparing apples to oranges.

  • attentive
    July 3, 2010 12:23 p.m.

    How many posting to this article are aware that the OFFICIAL language of Utah is ENGLISH. And to pass the immigration test to become a legal citizen of the U.S., one must certify that they "speak, read, and understand English." Just the facts. I think it's ridiculous that Spanish is being forced onto children who barely can speak English. English is known as the language of business in the world. Almost every interview with any high-ranking official in any country proves that English is what is spoken. Until Spanish-speaking countries start making a bigger impact on world trade and the economy, English will remain the language of choice.

  • Steve Jarvis
    July 3, 2010 12:20 p.m.

    I wish I knew a second language. If the US wants to remain on the top economically we are going to have to produce more people with the ability to communicate with other nations. We can't stand pat and watch Europe and Asia leave us in the dust. All that does is let our jobs go elsewhere.

    English is still the language of business. Soon it will have Mandarin added to it. However, Spanish is the key second language for the US to learn.

    Those who are incredulous that we are teaching other languages are too sheltered who likely have never been outside the US. There is a whole world out there. Embrace it.

  • evensteven
    July 3, 2010 12:13 p.m.

    Just more social experimentation within the schools. Anything BUT the 3 Rs. ESL is a wide-spread failure. It is the ESL kids that are endangering NCLB status because they aren't learning in either language. US test scores are abysmal compared to other industrialized nations and Utah is barely in the middle of the US pack. Sen. Stephenson misses the boat when he talks about the language of the future. Virtually every international activity takes place in English. Only at the UN and on Air France is that the exception.

  • Cincinnatus
    July 3, 2010 12:12 p.m.

    What I am reading from many opponents is hyperbole and xenophobia.

    First, English is not the legally official language of the country- Congress has not designated it so. But, I agree, if you live here, you should learn English, to have the greatest opportunities to succeed.

    Adults have the most difficult time learning new languages- thus, adult immigrants will always have a much harder time learning English than their children. With all the immigrants in the history of our nation, Scandinavian, German, Italian, Chinese, and many more, the adults have always had the hardest time learning, even resisting. The children learn and become integrated, more and more with each succeeding generation.

    @bulldog- No, you don't teach missionaries a new language in 2 months. You teach them the basics, and then they are immersed in the language- that is where they really learn it. Immersion works.

    Many people here need to understand, the U.S. is NOT the center of the world, it doesn't revolve around us. Much of the rest of world is multilingual, but many Americans just think if they speak English slowly and loudly enough they will be understood. Nothing worse than an Ugly American.

  • James Madison
    July 3, 2010 12:01 p.m.

    J in AZ, why "should" I, one who was born in, educated in, lives in, and works in the United States of America learn to speak Spanish, or Mandarin, for that matter?

    Give me one compelling reason.

  • Grover
    July 3, 2010 11:56 a.m.

    The good news here is how many more positive letters there are posted than negative ones. I expect that this percentage is about the same for the population as a whole for positive ideas, but the negativos (not a spanish word) monopolize the public debates on most issues.

  • J in AZ
    July 3, 2010 11:45 a.m.

    "I have a sneaking suspicion Spanish is top on the list. Hmmm, I wonder why?"

    Well Mr. James Madison, perhaps that might be because Spanish is the second most spoken language by first language speakers in the world topped only by Mandarin Chinese. If we want to list the top three languages that people in the U.S. should be learning, they are Chinese, Spanish, and Hindi. Forget about French and German. Given their birthrates they are dying languages.

  • James Madison
    July 3, 2010 11:18 a.m.

    "I'm pretty sure 'language immersion' is the PC term for educating illegals in their 'native' language."

    Fitness Freak hit the nail on the head! If not...

    Which language out of the 100+ languages in the world are we going to immerse our children in?

    I have a sneaking suspicion Spanish is top on the list. Hmmm, I wonder why?

  • Me an Der
    July 3, 2010 11:09 a.m.

    Language learning is great, great, great.
    For those who want their children to improve their English skills, try having them read more. Read, read and read some more. Reading good books exposes them to proper grammar (not "Me and him go to the store")

    Learning other languages exposes us to the cultures and understanding of others which we DO need in this age. Learning math and science through the process of learning another language is not as difficult as you may imagine. It works and the students actually learn better.

    The programs of public schools are so diluted it is no wonder students are bored and looking for trouble. Learning other subjects along with another language brings more excitement and intensity and thus engagement.

    All this from a retired language teacher of 41 years experience.
    And they are only talking about Kindergarten and 1st grade here. Just wait for the results of immersion through 6th through 12th years.

    You too will be amazed!!

  • James Madison
    July 3, 2010 11:06 a.m.

    @ Richie | 10:35 a.m.

    Ah, the eloquence of brevity. I love it!

  • Hellooo
    July 3, 2010 11:01 a.m.

    A second, third or fourth language is learned and helpful for many reasons. Immersion is a very appropriate way to accomplish comprehension and competence. But, on the cheap while trying to "immerse" the student in other subjects is for most a poor method. My own preference would be a return to the training of Latin in the school curriculum, which would promote a better understanding of our own legal, and medical systems which are based on this language.

  • On the other hand
    July 3, 2010 10:53 a.m.

    A couple more thoughts for the critics: widely-available second language immersion programs would be a big boon for the LDS Church. Missionaries who already speak their mission language don't need to (and usually don't) spend two months in the MTC. These programs would result in more missionaries spending more time in their assigned missions working with people, and doing so more effectively because there would be much less of a communication barrier.

    Regarding native Spanish speakers in Spanish-language classes: if you want your child to learn Spanish, wouldn't you want her/him to have the opportunity to interact with native speakers? The presence of those children in those classes improves the language skills of their native English-speaking classmates.

  • On the other hand
    July 3, 2010 10:44 a.m.

    Most non-Americans I know would laugh at the hubris behind some of the comments above. The stereotype of the arrogant, ignorant American is more real than some here want to believe.

    @Californian, any short-term loss of instruction time to other subjects because of language instruction should be offset by cognitive gains from language acquisition. Most European children spend a considerable portion of their school day either learning a foreign language or learning in a foreign language, and yet they outperform their American counterparts in math, science, and reading. Finnish students must learn two languages (usually Swedish and English) while in public school, yet they consistently rank near the top in academic performance measures. Luxembourgish students graduate from high school speaking German, French, and a third language (usually English) in addition to their native Luxembourgish. They too outperform Americans in math, reading, and science.

    It's true that among developed nations much of the international business is conducted in English, but the ability to speak the local language still leaves a strong, positive impression (take Jon Huntsman in China, for example). There's no excuse for American monolingualism. It's time we caught up with the world.

  • Richie
    July 3, 2010 10:35 a.m.

    If you can't speak english go home. Who is the idiot that wants dual immersion? Fire him too.

  • Kyle loves BYU/Jazz
    July 3, 2010 10:25 a.m.

    Learning a second language develops critical thinking skills and helps students become aware of other cultures.

    Why do so many people want to promote ignorance and intolerance. Hatred for illegal immigration should have nothing to do with support or opposition of these programs.

    The world is a big place and needs more people who think globally. Not small minded isolationists.

  • On the other hand
    July 3, 2010 10:05 a.m.

    @bulldog72, if you think we can really teach a missionary a language in two months, have I got news for you. In my experience, most foreign-speaking missionaries come home from their missions able to carry on a basic conversation in their mission language and able to discuss religion at great length. That's a kind of fluency, but not the kind most people think of and certainly not the kind that potential employers for bilingual jobs are looking for.

    I don't know what kind of anecdotal evidence you're using to support your claim that ESL students don't learn English, but studies using slightly more rigorous methods than yours suggest that they are. Of course, not all ESL programs are equally effective; in fact, bilingual education generally produces better results than full-blown immersion (see for example "The Big Picture: A Meta-Analysis of Program Effectiveness Research on English Language Learners" by Rolstad et al, 2005).

  • Hellooo
    July 3, 2010 10:00 a.m.

    Whoa, what a great way to insure students will not know math, science or their social studies, brilliant!! Another opportunity to make kids an experiment. Just look at the performance of students that are primarily Spanish-speaking with English as a second language as they struggle to be competitive in learning these subjects-not because of ability, but language. This is an experiment in education where we already know the outcomes-slightly better second language skills and poorer math, science, and social studies skills. After all to a large extent each of these areas of study are languages in and of themselves a+b=c is an expression in the same way that Bom Dia meus amigos is.

  • Fitness Freak
    July 3, 2010 9:52 a.m.

    I'm pretty sure "language immersion" is the PC term for educating illegals in their "native" language.

    We ALWAYS have had language instruction in the schools, now, because there are SO MANY illegals and we wind up having to teach English to SO MANY of them, we've got a new term to justify spending millions on educating illegal aliens.

  • Californian
    July 3, 2010 9:21 a.m.

    So, the children who do not fully understand the foreign language also do not understand the math and science lessons for several years? Seems to me a sacrifice for sound basic instruction in early grades.
    In California, where they do this sort of thing, they spend 45 minutes in language instruction...a teacher friend says it is 45 minutes lost on basic subjects.
    When you are teaching primary grades, where the attention span is limited, this is a big chunk of their learning span.
    Funny thing is that my husband was an international businessman for 40 years in Asia and Europe and all business meetings were conducted in English :-)

  • SJ Mom
    July 3, 2010 9:02 a.m.

    @ C. Darwin: Thank goodness people like you DO go to private school and not promote your eliteness with my students in public school.

  • BC LDS
    July 3, 2010 8:25 a.m.

    In Canada we have French immersion, as French is the other official language. My children did not go into the program. I feel that unless the language is spoken at home, it's not reinforced. I would have liked the opportunity for them to be in a German immersion program as I could have learned along with them. I speak a little German. German was a second language in my Mother's family, but unfortunately it was lost in one generation. If you can learn two languages, great.

  • bulldog72
    July 3, 2010 7:47 a.m.

    This immersion is a great idea, but to all of you who say "well, they learn english, too" uh, no, they don't. ESL programs are big excuse-makers, always wanting teachers to adapt to non-native speakers but never making these kids accountable to ACTUALLY learn english. There should be IMMERSION in to English for non-english speakers and some accountability to actually learn the stuff. I cannot tell you how many ESL students I have seen graduate High School and still can't speak passable English.
    I mean, we can teach a missionary a foreign language in two months with training and immersion, but we can't get an ESL student fluent by the time they graduate HS? Give me a break.

  • C. Darwin
    July 3, 2010 7:33 a.m.

    ESL is the reason my children attend private school, which places value on the basics of english education. Keep up the popular multi-cultural ideas in public school and your kids will be employed by my kids.

  • James Madison
    July 3, 2010 7:07 a.m.

    Why don't we go back to teaching children in the U.S. schools how to properly read, write, and speak ENGLISH?

    What a radical idea!

  • My2Cents
    July 3, 2010 4:37 a.m.

    What bothers me an is disgusting, it they are teaching english, the language of our country as the second language. Something wrong with this picture? Is the occupation by Mexican citizens taking over our education system in Utah? As a primary language, only english should be taught, all the others are secondary languages. Americans will always be here, illegal foreign nationals are illegal invaders with no rights and I'm disgusted that the State Board of Education is surrendering to illegal aliens as if they have rights to demand their language is a primary language. These other states visiting are doing so to learn what Not to do with their education funds.

    Talk about brainwashing our children, this is a very good example of illegal government intervention in the education of Americas children. Control always starts at the bottom with children, look at what they have done with our so called college educated children, they don't like America or have any pride and love for their rights and freedoms.

  • FAYM
    July 3, 2010 3:59 a.m.

    "We've got to catch up," Stephenson said. "We've got to start teaching our students not only the language of our history, but also the language of our future."

    Great, so Spanish is the language of our future. This is good in case my child ever gets hired by a Latin American Drug Cartel, or if they want to get into a spanish speaking gang.

    Glad our tax dollars are not spent on teaching English. They already do that perfectly.


    R u 2?


  • SLars
    July 3, 2010 1:29 a.m.

    I think this is a good idea, but question how the school officials know what the language of the future will be?

  • AZRods
    July 2, 2010 11:57 p.m.

    I see some here who feel that because we live in the US, that we shouldn't have to learn another language.
    When in reality, a 2nd language gives you such an advantage in life.
    Most countries in Europe teach several languages in their schools so that many are fluent in 3-4 languages by the time they graduate.
    We're a little arrogant to think that the world should all learn English so they can converse with us.
    My second language is Spanish since my mission in the early 70's and I can't count the number of times I've used it in business, travel & life in general.
    Plus it makes a 3rd language that much simpler.

  • Christy
    July 2, 2010 11:40 p.m.

    And as far as English speaking anglo kids learning Spanish? I say GREAT. There is nothing but benefit in that. And the younger they learn, the easier it is for them. My son in high school had a devil of a time with Spanish because he wasn't introduced to it until Freshman year.

  • Christy
    July 2, 2010 11:37 p.m.

    As an educator, I tell my ESL kids, "I wish I could speak Spanish. I only speak one language, but you can speak two languages. That is so cool! You are so smart!" You should see the way their faces light up with pride.

    So yes, children of immigrants may be delayed in their English speaking, but at public schools in America, they are taught English. They are taught IN English.

    So just freaking relax people.

  • Rosemom
    July 2, 2010 11:22 p.m.

    @readAbook - Not the case. Sure, the first month or two they don't quite get everything the teacher is saying. But these teachers are very well trained in how to help kids learn the language quickly (and they're at an age where language acquisition is natural). By the end of the first year, many kids in dual immersion programs are conversant in the 2nd language. AND they perform well above grade level on the curriculum taught in that language!
    My son is one year through a Spanish/English program ... It is amazing!!

  • ruserious
    July 2, 2010 9:50 p.m.

    Immersion curriculum is extraordinary! If your kids are lucky enough to be in a school that offers such a program, do everything you can to get them in it! We are moving specifically to be in a school boundary that teaches Spanish immersion. I know a 2nd grade teacher who teaches her students math in Spanish as part of the Spanish immersion program--they don't even know she speaks English--and they tested highest in the district. Learning 2 languages, regardless if it's English and Spanish, Chinese, etc., makes you a different thinker and gives you the ability to excel in life academically in ways you may not have otherwise. Good for Utah for being the leader in this program! I for one am thrilled about it!!!

  • MadMike
    July 2, 2010 9:43 p.m.

    "In theory we should be able to speak a second language". I hope those experimental programs are for those who are doing it voluntarily. What happened to our nation? We let all those who want to come here to the U.S. because of the freedoms we enjoy and now we are headed towards having to learn their language. I don’t want to be a global citizen — I live in the U.S.! I speak English — why don’t some of the immigrants?

  • A Guy With A Brain
    July 2, 2010 9:22 p.m.

    Here's an idea:

    how about we insist that if they live in the U.S. that Hispanics learn English?

    Yeah, crazy, I know....

  • Christy
    July 2, 2010 9:19 p.m.

    Yes, Steverino, schools teach all children English. They have special education classes for children who's second language is English.

  • readAbook
    July 2, 2010 8:58 p.m.

    So, young kids spend hours in school being lost during math and science...this explains another reason why they do so poorly in these subjects.

    Yes, students should learn multiple languages, but NOT to the detriment of the primary subjects they should be learning. I would never cripple my child in math & science by placing learning a language before subject content. That's a recipe for disaster. Secondary math and science teachers will once again be faced with making up the slack of K-6.

    Teach all subjects in English and then have foreign language be its own subject with reiteration of subject matter already in the child brain. THAT'S a win win situation.

  • steverino
    July 2, 2010 8:51 p.m.

    What about the spanish speaking students, that don't speak English. Are they too required to learn English, or will this be an "option". From the story, there doesn't seem to be an "option" in the student study. When working as a telephone installer, I had to wait for the student to arrive home to translate for the adults, because the adults didn't speak English. It would appear that the State BOA should create an English learning process, and require all to attend that didn't speak English. This is America and we speak English!

  • Blogger
    July 2, 2010 8:31 p.m.

    And in my hometown ALL public school students are now required to learn Spanish.

  • Dana
    July 2, 2010 8:24 p.m.

    It's great that second language acquisition is finally being offered in early grades when children learn languages more easily. This is exciting progress.

  • On the other hand
    July 2, 2010 8:12 p.m.

    I would love for language immersion to be an option for my children at the local schools. Best of luck to everyone involved in these programs.