Looking back on my time in the Norwalk Public School System from kindergartener at Brookside Elementary School, a student at Roton Middle School, to a junior at Brien McMahon High School, I recognize that I have received many academic opportunities. However, if I could change one thing about my academic experience here in Norwalk it would be the emphasis on language learning.
I began taking Japanese in middle school—and yes, this itself is a very unique opportunity to have. But why start in middle school? Why sixth grade? It is a proven fact that children can pick up on a language at younger ages, so why don't we cater to that? If students were to start language learning in third or fourth grade, it could greatly increase proficiency. It would even open up opportunities for students to study multiple languages and become proficient, or even fluent. Imagine the opportunities.
In an ever-globalizing world, language is essential for communication more than ever. Across the globe, students in Asia and Europe learn English and other languages in school at young ages. In the real world we cannot expect everyone to speak the way we do. Parents, teachers and principals want to prepare us well for the future and lead us to paths of success and fulfillment. More focus on language learning is a way they can do this.
Now I am not asking for Kindergarteners to begin learning Spanish before they can read. I am asking for more emphasis. I am aware that some schools in the district such as Silvermine Elementary offer language programs and a couple others have the odd after school program. Although this is a start I believe more can be done across all elementry schools in Norwalk to encourage earlier language studies.