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Sarasota Thursday, Sep. 2, 2010 7 years ago

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: French language option in schools should be retained

by: Susan Bagat

Dear Editor:

Riverview High School is phasing out its French language program, and this curriculum change should not be ignored. The great amount of resources — both financial and human — that it takes to initiate a language program means that once RHS stops offering French as a foreign language, it will probably never be re-instated, and this will be a loss to the students and the community.

Why should high school students have the opportunity to take French class?

Although Spanish is currently the first language of the majority of bilingual speakers in the U.S., millions of second- and third-generation Americans claim French ancestry. The argument for phasing out French because it is no longer commonly spoken in the U.S. ignores an integral component of the high school foreign-language class, i.e. the teaching of culture. Spanish language class exposes students mostly to Latin and South American cultures. On the other hand, French language class offers European cultural grounding as well as a connection with French-speaking Canada. Although many countries in Africa and the Caribbean are French-speaking, the culture that is emphasized in high school French class is mostly based on the culture of European francophone countries.

If the opportunity for high school students to gain some understanding of European culture is limited, then some of the cultural heritage of Americans may be lost.

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