Friday, September 27, 2013

University Heritage Language Programs on the Rise - Higher Education

University Heritage Language Programs on the Rise - Higher Education: ...To help them fill in the gaps, universities are adapting their foreign language curriculum, in part to better prepare graduates for a globalized world where it pays to be professionally fluent in more than one language.

Children in multi-lingual homes grow up a step ahead of other would-be language learners. They can easily engage in small talk or follow the latest soap opera in their families’ native language. Yet when it comes to meatier topics, or reading and writing, they are stuck.

The linguistic gaps become apparent in high school, where these students can snooze through basic language classes but often drown in more advanced ones if their heritage language is even offered. After all, how many American high schools offer Arabic or Korean?

With 37 million Spanish-speakers in America, most heritage classes are in Spanish, and courses have bloomed across campuses in California, Florida and several Southwestern states. They have also begun to take hold in schools like Harvard University, which added a course this year.