Week 14: 

Should American Students Be Required to Learn a Second Language?


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Word Generation

 (Adapted by Alexandra Fortuna) 

Know your Resources

This page will introduce you to your coaches.  Clicking on your coaches throughout the book will help you understand what you are reading about! Ask Pedro, Hali, and Monty for help when you need it! 

What language do you speak?

Quelle langue parlez-vous ?

¿Qué lengua usted habla?

Che lingua parlate?


 Do you speak more than one language? If so, you are bilingual.  Do you know anyone that speaks more than one language?  Ask your friends about the languages that they speak, or the about the languages their family speaks.  It is fun to learn about other languages and cultures that make up our classrooms and schools.

Every country has their own flag. These are some from around the world.







Learning these words will help you understand the weekly passage.  They will also help make your writing stronger!  

Some words you may come across in your studies

In the United States, we use the Dollar. Around the world, people use different forms of money. This is called currency.


Spanish Cognate: económico

Meaning: about money and business, financial

Other Forms: Economical (adj.); Economy (noun)

ASL sign: http://www.signingsavvy.com/search.php?search=ECONOMY

Example of Use: Speaking multiple languages can help provide economic and business opportunities.

Image retrieved from creative commons
The children in this picture represent different cultures.


Spanish Cognate: multicultura

Meaning: Many cultural or ethnic groups together in a society.

Other Forms: Multiculturalism (noun); Multiculturalist (Noun & Adj.)

ASL signs: http://www.signingsavvy.com/search.php?show_word=0&variation=MULTICULTURAL

Example of Use: The United States is a multicultural nation because people who live here come from many different countries and cultures.

People say that her beautiful eyes are her best attribute.


Meaning: A feature, a quality, something that describes a person or thing

Spanish Cognate: atributo; cualidad

ASL Sign: http://www.signingsavvy.com/search.php?show_word=0&variation=ATTRIBUTE

Other Forms: Attribution (noun); attributable (adj.)

Word in Use: Learning to speak multiple languages is a positive attribute.

The teacher is facilitating the lesson with his students.


Meaning: to enable, to help make something happen

Spanish Cognate: Facilitar

ASL Sign: http://www.signingsavvy.com/search.php?show_word=0&variation=FACILITATE

Other Forms: Facilitator (noun); facilitative (adj.)

Word in Use: The teacher helped facilitate the class discussion.

This flower is distinct because it is different from other flowers you may have seen before.


Meaning:separate, different

Spanish Cognate: distinto

ASL Sign: http://www.signingsavvy.com/search.php?show_word=0&variation=DISTINCT

Other Forms: Distinctly (adverb); Distinctness (noun)

Word in Use: The dog was distinct from others because it had one blue eye and one green eye.

Weekly Passage: Should Americans Be Required to Learn A Second Language?

What are the benefits of knowing two languages? Many scientific studies show that growing up bilingual is great for kids' brain development.  Being bilinugual may also be good for getting a job.  Many businesses want to hire people who speak more than one language because they consider this skill a valuable attribute.  But most Americans do not know a second language and those that typically do, do not know the language very well.  Children who come from homes where English is not the family's native language often forget the languages their parents speak.

How did we become so monolingual? Some say it is because we are a multilingual nation and it would be too confusing if every group were to use its own language.  Distinct from Americans, most educated Europeans, Asians, and Africans, speak several languages and English is often one of them.  


In Europe, students are required to take two distinct foreign languages in school.  Most people around the world think it's important to know several languages so that they can participate in the political and economic activities taking place globally.  Even the US government and the US Armed Forces are constantly looking for speakers of other languages.  Today they are seeking Arabic speakers, but very few Americans (unless they come from Arabic-speaking families) learn Arabic in school or university.  The Iraq Study Group found that of the 1000 staff members in the US Embassy in Baghdad, only 6 were competent speakers of Arabic.  

Knowing more than one language seems to be good for learning, employment, and maybe even national security.  So how can parents, schools, and society facilitate opportunities for learning?  Should American students be required to learn a second language other than English? 

This is what two people in a formal debate look like. Have you ever seen a debate on TV?

Debate the Topic: What do you think? 

Some people think that Americans should speak only English.  People who support this believe that all immigrants should learn English and forget their home language.  

Others think that Americans should learn at least one language other than English.  This idea supports the notion that, if a child speaks another language at home, he or she should be encouraged to continue using that language in the community and at school.

 What do you think?