Educators bristle at funding for languages

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Local educators are reacting with skepticism to a recent state directive to deliver $1,200 for foreign language materials to all Georgia elementary schools in 2007-08.

"You can't teach foreign language for $1,200. That idea is a poor idea without any thought. The elementary schools can't have foreign language for $1,200. They won't even have a cultural parade," said Lounelle Beecher, the Richmond County school system social studies/foreign language coordinator.

She was not the only school administrator who scoffed at Gov. Sonny Perdue's redistribution of almost $1.6 million for statewide elementary school foreign language programs in the 2007-08 budget.

Wanda Golosky, the Euchee Creek Elementary School principal, thought the funding was designed "to appease everyone."

She said the blanket foreign language funding is just another underfunded initiative from the state that might be used more effectively in other areas.

"The state could look at some other funds that they've cut, like our K-through-eight reading program," she said.

Ms. Golosky and Cory Ellis, the Martinez Elementary School principal, questioned the feasibility of adding foreign language to the curriculum.

"We currently don't have a foreign language program, and, of course, $1,200 isn't much dollars in your pocket," Mr. Ellis said.

Barry O'Neill, the McDuffie County school system assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said he was glad to hear the debate about the importance and value of elementary school foreign language instruction.

However, he said, "With limited instruction time, how do you spend it? And you have to have community support."

Last year, only 29 Georgia elementary schools received state grants for foreign language programs.

Stevens Creek in Columbia County and Lake Forest Hills in Richmond County were the only local elementary schools to offer Spanish instruction. None of McDuffie County's four elementary schools have foreign language programs.

Under the reallocation, Stevens Creek had its state funding slashed from $120,000 to $1,200 for 2007-08. However, the Columbia County school board authorized a $142,982 expenditure in the 2007-08 budget to preserve the program for another year.

Bert Brantley, a spokesman for Mr. Perdue, said some elementary schools previously received as little as $2,500 in state funding for their programs. He also encouraged local school systems to fund foreign language instruction in their elementary schools.

Dana Tofig, a state Department of Education spokesman, said the $1,200 earmark will be included in 2007-08 state allocations to local school systems, which will distribute the funds to their elementary schools.

"The instruction from the governor is to split it up equally amongst all schools." said Mr. Brantley. "The idea is that everybody would be able to participate."

Mr. Tofig said in an e-mail that schools could use the funding to purchase virtual foreign language programs.

He and Dr. O'Neill said some schools use SALSA, a video series produced by Georgia Public Broadcasting, to teach Spanish to young children.

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jaschild
9
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jaschild 06/22/07 - 04:54 am
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the software approach makes

the software approach makes more sense: using foreign language as an embedded enrichment program within the language arts curriculum makes much more sense than funding a staff of teachers for two separate languages. there are many good programs available, including rosetta, that would make excellent use of the vast technology available to students at most elementary schools.

goodgrief
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goodgrief 06/22/07 - 06:39 am
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How am I suppose to teach a

How am I suppose to teach a foreign language when I don't speak a foreign language. These programs need to be kept in high school where the teachers went to college for this. Students need the basic language skills taught in elementary school. How much time would be allocated for this everyday? We don't have enough time for the other subjects already!!

lezniack01
0
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lezniack01 06/22/07 - 06:39 am
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Im all for learning a foreign

Im all for learning a foreign language, but please, lets focus on learning how to speak english before we try to teach something other than that. Do you folks know that most of the school libraries dont have enough books to cover the shelves?They also dont have enough school textbooks to go around.Many children are sharing in class and are not allowed to take books home to study.This is happening in every school in Richmond County.

mylittlepony
1
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mylittlepony 06/22/07 - 07:04 am
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Bean, I appreciate your

Bean, I appreciate your dilemma, but one of out tasks as teachers is to try to create lifelong learners. What an opportunity for you to model this for your students! If you use Salsa, which I did years ago, you can learn along with them. It's fun for them to catch you in a mistake and correct you! It motivates them to learn. Be creative!

cdb
0
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cdb 06/22/07 - 07:52 am
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Elementary school should only

Elementary school should only have Englash classes.

luckie
2
Points
luckie 06/22/07 - 08:06 am
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Children are their ripest at

Children are their ripest at early ages. I am American but know quite a bit of Spanish. Foreign language is required in high school and college. Introducing it at an early age keeps these students being successful later on. I could take that $1200.00 and buy some visual aids, a TE and one activity book that is not copyrighted so I could make copies and implement lessons for about 20 minutes a day. Colors, numbers, dayso fthe week, months of the year and a few words and nouns and pronouns. It is a start. The kids love it. I still have my books from college!! I saw too many young kids struggle in college.

luckie
2
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luckie 06/22/07 - 08:13 am
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I was on an aisle in Lowes

I was on an aisle in Lowes yesterday. I began reading a sign in the "doors" section. It was about 8" by 20" long. I said to myself "This whole thing is in Spanish." I couldn't believe it and I knew somethng wasn't right. I took my hand and flipped it. The English was on the back side. People - Georgia is so far behind. WE should take advantage of learning. Think about it -any automated phone message for English press 1 for Spanish press 2. I was raised in miami when it became little Havana and now it is internatiional-Haiti, puerto ricans, asian. We just happen to have the in flux of mexicans here. The Asians and the Spanish are "Movin on up!"

nash63
22
Points
nash63 06/22/07 - 09:15 am
0
0
Languages are learned more

Languages are learned more easily by the very young. If you wait until high school, as I and most other people did, it is much more difficult to learn another language because the brain is imprinted with the vocabulary and structure of the native language. Ideally a child will be exposed to more than one language when learning to speak (and no, they don't get confused between languages--their brains are much more flexible and adaptable at that stage of development). If that happens, then the brain is more receptive to other languages as the child grows up, and learning another language is much easier to do, even in adulthood.

goodgrief
0
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goodgrief 06/22/07 - 09:35 am
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my little pony, my first goal

my little pony, my first goal to my students is to teach them the basic language skills, not introduce another one. We have become a place where improper english is accepted and used frequently in our youth. I would much rather know my students will be productive, educated citizens instead of having a salsa lesson from the computer. I also have no desire to learn Spanish. If I lived in another country, I would learn their language. It is not my desire to teach a foreign language in the elementary grades. If a student desires to learn another language, it will be offered in high school.

About Time
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About Time 06/22/07 - 09:42 am
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I never learned a proficient

I never learned a proficient amount of Spanish or French in the Columbia County school system 10 years ago; but now as a homeschooling mother of a 3 year old and a 7 year old, I can expose them to a variety of linguistic elements across several cultures every day. I certainly wouldn't consider them multilingual YET, but they definitely know enough to communicate effectively with their multicultural friends. Yet another reason on a long list of why self-directed education is and will remain superior.

cyoung
0
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cyoung 06/22/07 - 12:37 pm
0
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why is Stevens Creek the only

why is Stevens Creek the only one to get the spanish program? Why can't other elementary schools in the county get it? I would love for my child to have the opportunity.

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