Economy tough on foreign language instruction

Unlike many school systems throughout the U.S., the school board of Fairfax County, Virginia (greater Washington D.C. area) voted in 2006 to start teaching foreign language programs to its young pupils.  While that was a great idea in a county in which a large percentage of students are foreign born and/or speak a language other than English, the economic crisis and budget cuts that followed made it a difficult project to sell to parents.   Unfortunately, this seems to be the case in many school districts throughout the U.S.  About sixteen states and the District of Columbia require their students to take foreign languages in order to receive a degree, but for  most of these the requirement is just two (at most three) years.  If the students haven’t had a language before their high school experience, how do school systems think that they can learn a language in such a short time?  Maybe most would be able to read a menu or say a basic greeting but nothing else.  Here’s  a link to a report that lists “world language graduation requirement (February 2008)” for several states.  It’s really terrible that many states still lack even a basic foreign language requirement.  What are these states thinking?!!

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