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Linguaholic

Learning a language in high school


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My daughter is going into high school this year and she is in the middle of trying to pick out her electives. She is very musical and wants to take music classes, but I would like her to select a foreign language. At the end of the day, she needs to make the decision on her own, but I think the language learning would be more beneficial to her because she is already taking guitar lessons. Are high school foreign language classes all they are cracked up to be?

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  • 2 weeks later...

It really depends on the school and the teacher, if those two are good enough, well there is a big chance your daughter might end up learning a new language. It also depends on the language and how good your daughter is at learning languages.  But yes, I have met people who learn a second language during high school and thank to an active practice they have managed to improve even more.

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Making the choice to learn a foreign language in high school can turn out to be a great idea. It could be the beginning of ones career path or even just the thrill you get from just being able to do basic communication in that language. The high schools here offer the first three years of foreign languages as compulsory and I think it does more good than bad for the students as they are introduced to something that could open many doors for them in the future.

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Will she be able to use her music lessons as a college credit? If she is not going to college, it does not matter. But many colleges will accept a foreign language taken in high school as a credit for their college program. Some colleges want the student to have taken a foreign language before they can apply. I think lessons in the arts are just as important as language, however, you might want to ask her guidance counselor what she will need for any future classes she might be taking.

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I also believe it'll depend on the school as well as the teacher. If the school has a good reputation, and the teacher is dedicated and good at what she does; then it would be a good choice. Many industries are now crying out for multi lingual employees. I wish I'd had the opportunity to learn new languages from a younger age.

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My daughter opted not to do a foreign language as one of her electives for school and I support her. She is very artistic and she decided to do some art classes instead. I think that the student really has to want to learn the language in order to be successful at it and she is just not ready yet.

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It's always possible to start to learn a language outside of school as well. Maybe you could encourage her to join a student club or get interested in music written in another language?

I wish I had started learning languages earlier, because it gets slightly harder as you get older and it can be difficult to start it at university with no previous experience, but music and art is important too!

If her high school is anything like mine was, you can also switch in later years, and there is often more time in later years to choose more electives.

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I think if your daughter is interested in music then you should let her pursue it. Who knows, she could be the next Mozart or something. On the other hand, if you really wanted her to learn a foreign language, there are online courses, duolingo, etc that you could encourage her to try.

Learning a new language is not easy, and it'll be practically useless unless she has motivation to do so

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My daughter opted not to do a foreign language as one of her electives for school and I support her. She is very artistic and she decided to do some art classes instead. I think that the student really has to want to learn the language in order to be successful at it and she is just not ready yet.

Well, you said that she is going to start high school this year, so she has plenty of time to take a foreign language class, or even more than one, if she chooses to do so. 

Like someone else said, learning a language is hard, so she has to be motivated to do it.  It's good that you didn't force her to take a class that she didn't want to take.  She might be really good at learning languages in high school, and only time will tell that, but music is a great class to take.

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My daughter opted not to do a foreign language as one of her electives for school and I support her. She is very artistic and she decided to do some art classes instead. I think that the student really has to want to learn the language in order to be successful at it and she is just not ready yet.

Good thing that you didn't force her to, since my mom also tried to force me to attend certain activities in school when I didn't feel like it. She even signed me up when I was 7 years old to attend a girl scout meeting. The first time I did, it bored me to death.  :laugh: She is not with me when I go to school, so she can't yank me to attend their meeting.

Let her take the course on her own initiative, when that time comes then you'll now she really is interested in it.

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I really learned a lot in my high school Spanish class. I learned enough to graduate with honors from the Golden State Exam in California. That was from only 2 years of Spanish. I still speak it to this day and I also got employment for knowing Spanish. It goes a long way. How many electives can get you a job?

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Back in first year high school our class was required to study the Arabic language as well as Islamic studies.  However, I wasn't really interested in learning Arabic, and while my grades are slightly above average, I'll admit that I never got used to speaking the language.  In the end I discarded everything about the Arabic language.  Learning Arabic wasn't a matter of choice, but a matter of requirement, as the school I enrolled in was based in an Arabic country.

I am currently enrolled in basic Nihongo, and it's totally a far cry from my Arabic language classes in high school.  Unlike the Arabic language, I feel that I enjoy learning Nihongo even more, as I can speak the basics.  Sometimes I make errors when it comes to the correct particles.

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I really learned a lot in my high school Spanish class. I learned enough to graduate with honors from the Golden State Exam in California. That was from only 2 years of Spanish. I still speak it to this day and I also got employment for knowing Spanish. It goes a long way. How many electives can get you a job?

To be fair, you can say that about a lot of electives. Even if the OP's daughter takes music, she could meet someone influential in that world and end up having a career through that. Yes, you picked up a lot in your Spanish class, but I'm willing to bet that you enjoyed going to that class as well. Learning a language is not easy, and you need personal motivation in order to become good (just like anything else really)

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I would definitely take the language course. The thing is the foreign language program in the US sucks as we suffer from English's success. Usually the programs focus on grammar conjugations and vocab in a vacuum and little conversation practice is had. This also depends on the school on teacher tho. But its still better off than naught, and it could give your daughter a good base to begin learning.

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I would agree to most of the comments here. Let her choose.

However, with the question about languages, in my opinion, the best choices are Spanish, French, Mandarin and Japanese. Take a pick! *I personally think that these countries are going to be big contributors to the technology world in the future.

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  • 2 weeks later...

As being a typical teen, she decided to take photography instead of music or a foreign language. I suppose I could buy her a foreign language book so she could start to learn and she if she is at all interested in picking up a language. The great part about where I live is that there are people around that speak many different languages so I could connect her with a tutor.

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Music has all kinds of benefits. If she is not interested in learning languages she will not get much out of it at all. Honestly, at least my first year, I did not get much benefit from taking a Spanish class. The teachers kept changing and the students were awful. That will likely not be the case for your daughter, but I doubt she will become fluent. High school language classes just aren't that intensive and it is a lot of repetition.

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My daughter opted not to do a foreign language as one of her electives for school and I support her. She is very artistic and she decided to do some art classes instead. I think that the student really has to want to learn the language in order to be successful at it and she is just not ready yet.

I'm glad you let her make the decision. Like you say, if she isn't really that interested in learning a language, she's not going to be motivated. because you live in a multi-lingual area, you might find that over time she'll pick up some of the languages anyway. That could trigger more of an interest later on :)

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I don't think language classes are particularly more beneficial than music classes since music is arguably just another form of language anyway. I think if she excels in one particular space then that's all that really matters since if she finds passion in that then she can get really good and find employment in that area eventually. I don't think high school elective classes are taken that seriously anyway and if she picks one that she is actually interested in then there's more chance for her to actually want to learn something.

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