An expansion of foreign language courses is taking hold in some school districts, as a second language is increasingly important in preparing students for 21st century jobs.
Right now, in almost half of Nashville’s middle schools, students dont have the language courses available. They are out of luck if they want to study French, Spanish, or Latin. Children as young as kindergarten have the chance to study foreign languages in a select number of elementary schools, but many middle school students dont have the opportunity.
Change is coming, as Metro Nashville Public Schools will expand at least one foreign language course to every middle school in the district.
The change will begin next year, and will benefit the 15 schools that don’t have foreign language courses currently.
The price is still unknown, but school officials stress that the value is very much worth the price. Some districts have rapidly growing non English speaking populations, amd the hope is to benefit those students as well.
“We are hoping that by bringing foreign languages into all the middle schools next year that it will also help with increasing scores in English and math,” said Antoinette Williams, the district’s executive officer for middle schools, noting research that shows that effect.
The hope is for foreign languages to be offered in all four middle school grades — fifth through eighth — but details are still being finalized. It is also unclear which language will be matched to each school, though the majority of middle schools that do have foreign language courses offer Spanish.
Most of the middle schools that lack foreign languages are decidedly low-income. All but three of the schools — Cora Howe, H.G. Hill and William Henry Oliver — serve predominantly minority students. Three of the six middle schools singled out by the state as low-performing “priority schools” lack foreign languages.