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West hopes to expand language offerings

Updated: November 30, 2012 11:07AM

AURORA — Fluency in a foreign language takes about four years of everyday usage, according to research.

The West Aurora School District wants to reach more students and teach them foreign languages at a younger age. After school and summer options will be available for students in 5th through 9th grade in the 2012-13 academic year.

“It’s a start,” School Board member Allyson Herget said.

Herget said that she knows that budget, staffing, and finding the space to teach more students are all obstacles that need to be overcome in offering more foreign languages to students during the academic day.

At the high school level, only French and Spanish are offered to students. The school board has been talking on and off about increasing the number of languages taught at the high school since 1994, she said.

“I would like to see more done,” she said.

More efforts have been made to provide elementary and middle school students exposure to foreign language. For instance, some gifted middle school children have the option of learning Chinese.

Student board member Chase Woods said that a lot of students would take advantage of some type of continuation at the high school level.

“I know that a lot of students, if given the opportunity, would take Mandarin Chinese, or German,” he said.

Board member Robert Gonzalez noted that he did not learn English until entering high school. He thought that was too late to start learning a foreign language.

“The earlier you start, the better you are,” he said.

Superintendent James Rydland acknowledged the importance of teaching students foreign languages. He also acknowledged the need to incorporate more languages into the high school curriculum so that students could have a larger variety.

“Can we really say we have a comprehensive high school when we offer two languages?” he said.

School Board President Neal Ormond said he was happy to see new considerations in bringing students the after school and summer curriculums for world languages.

“If we can’t do it any other way right now, then after school is an option,” he said.

World languages staff will be reporting to the board of education again in February with updates on plans to reach more students.

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