“A vast amount of doors open when you learn a foreign language.”
That was the message during the Foundation for Saline Area Schools (FSAS) Building a Foundation Breakfast on Tuesday. During the event FSAS introduced the community to a strategic grant initiative in support of Love of Language curriculum.
FSAS aims to raise $75,000 to help Saline Area Schools kick start the program, which will begin to introduce kindergarten students to foreign language in the next school year.
FSAS asked for the community's support in preparing students for the 21st century.
“As good stewards for our district, and to maintain our tradition, we ask that you help innovate and inspire,” said FSAS President Cheryl Hoeft.
Many other countries require students to take foreign language and also start instruction while students are young. By introducing students early, the district hopes students will be fluent in a second language by sixth grade.
Students dubbed “Stars” were among the guests of honor during the informational event. Each of the tables at the breakfast was assigned a student who told their story in languages like Spanish, French and German.
Many of the students have spoken a foreign language since seventh grade when the class was first available. Several students agreed that learning a foreign language helped them in a variety of ways from traveling to learning better English.
Alex Konwinski, a Spanish speaking senior, said it made him feel good when he traveled to Mexico and was able to understand conversation, or read a sign.
“It has definitely given me confidence,” he said. “I know I will be able to use it in the future, and it will be an asset to my career.”
Businessman and trustee Dave Holden told Konwinski he is absolutely correct that foreign language will further his career.
“We seek individuals like you,” Holden said.
Konwinski also acknowledged that students in other countries learn English at such a young age, and that they become unbelievable proficient.
By introducing students early, the district hopes students will be fluent in a second language by sixth grade.
Many other countries require students to take foreign language and begin instruction while students are young. Breakfast speakers emphasized foreign language is important in the curriculum to keep up with the rest of the world.
“We need to embrace our world, said FSAS Trustee Pam Dahlmann.
Konwinski said since foreign language is learned so early in other countries in return, he feels Americans have a duty to communicate with other cultures in their language as they do in ours.
Alexa Ross agrees with Konwinski. The French speaking Saline senior said U.S students should learn a foreign language when they are young like students in other countries do. She gave an example of a correspondent student she knows who came to U.S. “I was just amazed,” she said. “She speaks three languages.”
Ross said it’s normal in most parts of the world to speak multiple languages. She added that learning a foreign language enriches experiences like traveling abroad.
Emily Lau speaks Spanish and said she is amazed at how much her foreign language skills have helped her though her journey as a missionary.
“I went to build houses and was able to talk to the children,” she said. “I talked to them and entertained them.”
Several students agreed that not only can you speak to and entertain others in foreign tongue, you can also entertain yourself.
“It’s like a hobby,” said Patrick Zetterholm.
A French speaker, the senior studies as much as he can and immerses himself in the language by reading and watching movies. He thinks his language skills are strengthened too because his teacher insists on only speaking French in class.
For some students learning another language has made them better at English.
Marc Barbbet has spoken German since 8th grade. He said learning a foreign language has helped him with English sentence structure.
“As you learn another language, you also talk about English and how the languages differ,” he said.
All of the students said they see a bright future for Saline students who will have the opportunity to learn another language, and they hope the community can help.
“I am excited about what our community can accomplish,” said Hoeft. “We have the power to support our stars in their pursuits of their star status.”
Since 2009 several initiatives have been funded with the help of FSAS including Kids Who Read Succeed, Project Lead the Way and Heritage Laptop Project.
For more information about FSAS visit www.supportfsas.org