Do You Speak The Language?

Keeanna Johnson, Staff Writer

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Greetings from everywhere.

“¡Hola”! “Bonjour!” two phrases that many would understand in a heartbeat; Hi. But what about “Hallo Freund,” “Wapendwa marafiki,” and “Marhabaan bial’asdiqa?” At first glance you would obviously know off the bat that these aren’t Spanish, French and especially nowhere near English. The only way to find out it’s meaning and origin would be to look it up online. People would quickly scramble to look up it first to make it seem like they knew what it said. Let’s make this easier on everyone; all of the phrases above say “Hello friends” but in German, Swahili, and Arabic (all in that order).

Nowadays many bigger schools offer more options for languages. Although these are the other ruling languages in our country, more jobs are seeking for employees who are multilingual and can naturally understanding or at least have a sense of what someone is saying in a different language.

This also gives students a chance to explore their options in different languages during their middle and high school years. It would challenge their mind to learn something utterly new to them and make as a fun conversation starter. Of course this could potentially “cause competition [more so] between the teachers,” says Mr. Wild, “Because if there aren’t enough students in their class then teachers would compete for more students.” To understand how this could possibly come into effect if ever, I questioned three teachers- Mr. Ullman (History), Mrs. Clawson (French) and Mrs. Bold (High School Principal); all in that order.

They have received the exact same questions with some added on the spot. All answers to the questions will be written down exactly as said/heard:

Rebel Yell: What are the advantages of having more language classes to choose from? What are the disadvantages?

Ullman: Advantages: Languages like Mandarin, Arabic, German, and Japanese are
probably more likely to provide marketable skills for students in the 21st century.

Disadvantages: Can’t think of anything. Obstacles: Not many Qualified
teachers, scheduling constraints. Might have to be through distance learning.

Clawson: I really believe that if a student is interested in, whatever class it is whether it’s
going for language, math or science, if they’re interested in that class they’re going to learn it much better- more quicker, they’re going to put more attention to it. It’s going to make your students happy, higher performance, hopefully, and other advantages of having more school languages to choose from is that it offers students a chance to take multiple languages. But the disadvantage is, it really comes down to the price and finding teachers who want to come here. It’s really expensive to have teachers come to the school and because especially since we’re such a small school district. In order to have enough students in a Chinese class, in an Italian class, in order to have enough for that, we would only be able to employ a teacher for one or two periods a day. Which means they wouldn’t qualify for the schools insurance, we would only be able to pay them a certain amount of money and to find a teacher that would come to Cuba, NY and work for that small amount pay but with no insurance it would be pretty difficult. I wish we had the ability to but Cuba-Rushford is very lucky because we are one of three schools in Allagany County that actually offers two languages. Every other school in the county just requires [you] to take Spanish, it’s the only option you have. It’s a choice.

Bold: Well I think the advantages would be if somebody that is interested in going into- like
being a linguists or an entrepreneur for the UN, that they would be more marketable if they had more languages. Disadvantages in small schools like we are, sometimes it’s very difficult to even fi-I mean you can find Spanish teachers but it’s very difficult to find other teachers like French or German. There’s just not a lot of them out there. Does that make sense? It would be difficult in the area we live in to try and find those type of people wanting to come to Cuba, New York.

RY: What are some languages that you would love to have in the school?

Ullman: Mentioned above: Mandarin (Chinese), Arabic, German and Japanese.

Clawson: I would love to see Italian. Latin because that’s great if you’re going into the medical field or any sciences and whatever students have an interest for. I see a lot of students who are interested in learning Japanese, I’ve even had a few students who were interested in Russian.

Bold: I think Latin is a wonderful language to teach because it’s the root of everything and if you understand the basics of Latin, you really can understand the meaning of words and I think a lot of the other languages are derived from that too.

RY: What could more language classes bring to the school?

Ullman: 21st century skills, job opportunities, college application enhancement…

Clawson: I think it would help our students all-more global mannered. You learn more than just how to speak the language you learn part of the culture, you learn that different doesn’t necessarily mean bad it’s just different. Being a global student is really important nowadays.

RY: What type of background would you expect from someone wanting to teach a different language whether it be Japanese, Chinese, Irish, Scottish, etc….Would you expect someone to have lived in that country with that language- develop the ideal language teacher to you.

Ullman: While living in a country that uses the language probably makes them a better all around teacher of that particular language, I would only require that they be fluent in the language.

Clawson: For me, ideally it would be someone who has lived in that country but that’s not
always possible. I did not have the opportunity to live in France but I visited there
several times. It really comes down to the passion of the teacher- how much time are
they willing to spend with it- is it something they can’t live without. I know for me if I
didn’t have French in my life it would be very sad so, while I never lived in France I’ve
spent every opportunity reading, researching, being apart of that- it’s not necessarily a
requirement but it would be definitely very helpful. And someone who really enjoys that
and is passionate about not only just the language they teach but the students because if you don’t have both it usually doesn’t go over well and somebody who tries to make learning another language, a culture accessible to their students.

Bold: Well first of all we always have to worry that they’re certified in New York State and to
get certified in New York State is, it’s a big hump to get over but if the colleges are doing their job well, these kids should be ready and be able to pass all their exams. You would have to look that they have the cultural experience and some experience of visiting those countries- I mean if I- like Mr. Ellison if I were a Spanish teacher and I never visited Spain or been to Mexico or places that use the language, how well am I going to be able to really tell people about the culture of that area.
RY: In Middle School, I don’t know if they still do this, you had to take Spanish or French and either way, if you picked on you had to do the other one still. Do you feel like if we had another language that that should be the same way?

Clawson: In seventh grade it’s language lab. It’s kind of suppose to be an introduction you
haven’t officially chosen your language you’re interested in studying yet. It’s suppose to give you just a brief taste of what each one is like and that will help you choose which one you really want to pursue and sometimes it’s surprising. I used to teach the language lab when I taught at Genesse Valley and I had students that thought that they would take Spanish and they loved it but ended up loving French- I had it the other way as well. So yes if we offered another language to take, I think you should be exposed to that early as well. It makes a difference kind of let’s you see of what you’re getting yourself into.
RY: How expensive could it get if we pushed for more language classes in the school?

Bold: The class isn’t expensive it’s the teacher. That’s always an up and down thing because if
your starting off as a first year teacher they’re relativity inexpensive but if you have someone who has experience, they can be very expensive.
RY: Do you believe/think the idea of having another language class is beneficial for the school and overall a good or risky idea?

Ullman: I think it’s beneficial and a good idea. Finding qualified personnel and scheduling
flexibility is the hard part.

Clawson: I would love to see us be able to bring another language to this school, unfortunately I
don’t see it happening any time soon here. Just mostly because of the cost, I don’t know if there would be enough students interests- you would have to really prove that there would be enough of the students that would make it possible and the other challenge is finding a teacher that is certified to teach that foreign language. Most big schools in the Buffalo area offer French and Spanish as their main ones and maybe a sign language class or maybe a Latin class. As much as I would love to have another I don’t necessarily see it happening here at Cuba-Rushford anytime soon, unfortunately.

Bold: Anytime I could offer more classes, regardless if it’s language, math- whatever I could
offer, it’s always a benefit to the school and a reason it’s a benefit to the school because it’s a benefit to the students and the more I can make a student well rounded, the better they’re going to be as they move forward in their education and career and careers in general.

Language classes give kids a look into another culture and their beliefs that may or may not be different from the ones we are used to. Even though the possibility of having another language class is a long shot and a pretty far stretch for Cuba, NY, more languages would benefit students for future careers and help push them up higher up the ladder of success. It would bring more “flavor” to the school and spark new festivities and events that could help benefit not just the students but the school itself towards raising money for charaities and offering more opportunities to visit countries born from that language and culture. This helps kids expand their knowledge.

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Do You Speak The Language?