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RE: Brookline schools planning layoffs, cutting world language classes for K-5 students

March 25, 2024
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Brookline needs its elementary world language program. As a former Spanish teacher, I have often heard “I took Spanish in high school and can’t say anything.” But no one who took elementary Spanish has ever said that to me. Ever. Language learning aptitude is highest for young children.

I sometimes hear Brookline parents lamenting how little their kids can say after years of elementary Spanish. Please understand, comprehension comes before expression; being able to speak isn’t the first goal. You would be amazed to walk into a kindergarten class that’s entirely in Spanish and see every child engaged. Their brains are processing Spanish, developing a complex implicit language system that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

Studies show a correlation between bilingualism and many positive outcomes like cognitive ability, academic achievement, test scores, and future income. Children are also introduced to different cultures, see content from their other subjects in different lights, and begin lifelong participation in the global community. Considering our bitter national immigration debate, it is also important to note that language learners have a more positive attitude towards speakers of that languages. We need more empathy. We need this program.

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