Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

As an American, I am now going to bang my head into a wall.

>into a wall.

I thought it was somewhat delayed, not paid, yet.

Nothing to do with being American, since you're afforded the luxury to learn other languages for free through public schooling. If anything, bang your head because you chose not to.

The offer is made, but the reason for doing so isn't made clear. I didn't understand it at the time; I availed myself of it in a minimal way. Most don't do that.

Some of that is the accident of geography: it simply wasn't necessary. Today, we are more connected to our Spanish-speaking neighbors, and the value of learning that language is becoming increasingly obvious. I don't know whether the schools are doing a better job of stressing that than they did when I was in school.

I have indeed chosen to learn other languages, several of them. I wish I'd done it in school, at a time when my brain was more open to it. Unfortunately, that was also a time when I didn't know very much and put my priority on other things that ended up making less of a difference in my life.

It's a myth that you learn languages easier earlier in life. Mastering a language takes about 10 years, it's just that when you start at age 6, you could be done by age 16.

Public schooling is a waste of time and not where people learn foreign languages. I learned my second and third language purely through the Internet. One of them I also had in school, but like I said it was a waste of time. The method is just completely wrong, since in school they do the two things that are the most detrimental to learning a foreign language. Those two things are correcting mistakes (since the emphasis will be on the mistake, which will be remembered) and learning grammar. Grammar is useless overhead when learning. Once you know the language you can bother with grammar, if you care. I never did.

Speaking as an American who speaks a handful of languages, very few Americans achieve any proficiency with foreign languages based on school from public school classes. Indeed I'm willing to take to zero those that don't have an active speaking component (most).

The quality of said language is highly variable which also has an impact. It simply isn't a priority to a lot of schools.

Eh, not for many, many Americans. My school, and most of the schools in my county, offered only Spanish and my understanding is that four years of it still wouldn't qualify a person for AP credit.

It's hard to find more data beyond my anecdata -- an EdWeek article I found reported that less than 50% of schools report world language enrollment data.

Also, the Europeans who learn three or four languages in school also have the luxury to learn those languages for free* through public schooling, so I'm not sure I understand your point.

I am sure that your implication that every American kid can get a quality free foreign language skill in school is false: just like almost every single other educational outcome in the US, it's generally great in the good (wealthy, suburban) schools and terrible in the bad (poor, rural or urban) schools.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact