Parents Seek Out Foreign Language Classes for Kids as Schools Cut Language Programs

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Lango’s foreign language classes for kids have grown by 51% in the last year. Studies show the best time to learn a foreign language is before age 10, but school budget constraints limit programs.

Education experts agree that there is a short window of opportunity for children to achieve fluency in a second language – and early exposure is the key.

Today’s children need to learn more than ABCs and 123s to thrive as future leaders – they should also learn a foreign language. According to the National Education Association (NEA), learning a foreign language is one of the four key elements of global competence – a 21st century imperative that includes knowledge and understanding of international issues, appreciation of diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds, and skills to compete in an interdependent world community. In an effort to instill these skills in their children, more parents are seeking out foreign language classes that begin early – as young as 18 months.

“Education experts agree that there is a short window of opportunity for children to achieve fluency in a second language – and early exposure is the key,” said Michael Fee, managing director and co-founder of Lango, foreign language classes for kids. “The world is changing rapidly and it’s critical for our children to be fluent in other cultures and languages.”

Lango has seen enrollment in its Mandarin, French, and Spanish classes for kids jump 51% in the last year. More than 1,300 students are taught by independent Lango Leaders in 17 states through a unique approach to licensing curriculum and materials. Lango was started in 2007 in response to Fee’s own personal experience as a language learner and a parent. He was frustrated by his lack of fluency in a foreign language and inability to find classes for his children that would provide the early exposure studies recommend. Fee finds that many parents are turning to Lango or other elementary school foreign language programs for these same reasons.

According to the NEA, proficiency in foreign languages enhances overall academic achievement. Research shows that students who learn a foreign language score higher in both the math and verbal portions of the ACT than their counterparts who do not, and students across all socioeconomic levels who study a foreign language perform better on the verbal section of the SAT, with scores increasing in tandem with years of foreign language study.¹ Therefore, the earlier a child begins to learn a foreign language, the more dramatic the overall academic benefits.

Unfortunately, budget shortfalls are forcing schools to cut foreign language programs from their districts, including FLES (foreign language in elementary schools) and FLEX (foreign language experience). A national survey by the Center for Applied Linguistics reported the number of elementary schools offering foreign language classes in the US dropped from 31 percent in 1997 to 25 percent in 2008. According to the U.S. Census (2000), 82% of Americans speak English only. In comparison, 66% of the world’s children are raised as bilingual speakers.²

“We’ve known for years that the U.S. lags behind other countries in foreign language education – and it is time to make a change for the sake of our children’s futures,” said Fee.

About Lango
Lango was established on the belief that every child should learn a second language. Headquartered in San Francisco, California, Lango teaches children ages 18 months to eight years new languages in full immersion classes through Adventure Learning©, an innovative approach that combines stories, music and movement, playacting, and game-playing in an engaging format that kids love. Lango is a division of Intrax Cultural Exchange, a family of programs devoted to cultural exchange and international education, with operations in over 80 countries worldwide.

To find classes near you or to become a licensee, please visit Lango at http://www.langokids.com.

¹S.A. Olsen and L.K. Brown, “The Relationship Between Foreign Languages and ACT English and Mathematics Performance,” ADFL Bulletin 23, 3 (1992); T.C. Cooper, “Foreign Language Study and SAT Verbal Scores,” Modern Language Journal 71, 4 (1987) 381-387.

²Souces: Worldwatch Institute, Summer Institute of Linguistics

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Melanie Vuynovich
Lango
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