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Friday, August 22, 2014     Volume: 15, Issue: 24
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Santa Maria Sun / Letter To The Editor

The following article was posted on August 28th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 25 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 25

Two is better than one

Donald E. Casebolt - Santa Maria

I read with interest your article titled “Global education” (Aug. 8). I’m one person who would like to encourage such a development. At age 26, I went to Germany where I learned that the famous German writer Goethe said “a person does not understand his own language until he has learned a second language.” While learning German, I learned much more about English than I had learned in high school and college. Thus, I agree.

In fact, it would be ideal if every student could live abroad for a year to learn not only another language, but another culture. For it is impossible to merely learn by rote foreign vocabulary and grammar without absorbing something of an entirely new exotic universe of meaning. I’d liken it to scuba diving and having an underwater world of brightly colored corals and reefs unfold before one’s eyes.

It tends to broaden one’s outlook, to make one less parochial and less ethnocentric. It makes one feel that one is part of humanity rather than part of a tribe. I believe that the children of our area will be better equipped for the global economy if they at least learn both English and Spanish.

My experience in Germany caused me to raise my own three daughters in such a manner that all three speak another language fluently. (One of them now teaches French at Santa Maria High School). They not only studied abroad, but my wife and I welcomed foreign exchange students into our homes. One erstwhile Swiss exchange student of about 15 years ago recently spent several months at Stanford University, and we were able to entertain her and her two children for several days. (The 5-year-old, by the way, was able to chatter in English with my 5-year-old grandson within four months of arriving—proving the assertion of one of the bilingual advocates you quoted in your original article that children of that age are veritable language whizzes).

Today, with Skype, even adults can learn a foreign language with a foreign language partner. The Negro college fund employed a slogan that said: “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” This applies to our kindergarten and elementary school children, who could absorb a second language like a duck takes to water. Time’s a wasting. Let’s get a bilingual program started as soon as possible.