New Media Academy at Hollywood High School

My message: Let me learn languages

Dear future president,

“Ich bin zweisprachig.” Now what does that mean? Can’t tell me can you? Try this one: “Eu sou bilíngüe” Still don’t know? Well both mean the same thing but can you tell me in which languages? No? German and Portuguese. In translation, “I am bilingual.”

Learning a new language gives the option of being bilingual which is a requirement for certain jobs. By not giving kids a variety of language, just what you want them to learn, they won’t be interested in what they’re learning and take the class, forgetting the language. If they are in a language they actually want to learn, they will remember the language and want to know more about it, making it their second language. They then become: BILINGUAL.

The majority of schools I’ve attended had a variety of languages to offer the kids: Spanish, French, Mandarin, and even Turkish. Seems like a good variety right? But in all honesty, it really wasn’t. But thankfully, I was fine with taking Spanish. I learned a lot and enjoyed it but it wasn’t what I wanted to learn.

Because of such a small variety, some kids may not agree with what they pick or what they’re given. I, personally, know that whenever I try to learn a new language, and I don’t enjoy it, I won’t learn or remember it. But some language programs aren’t supported so some children don’t have a choice. The less support a language program gets, the less likely the child will learn.

“Nearly one-third of elementary and secondary schools with language programs reported that language teaching had been negatively affected by No Child Left Behind, because focus on reading and mathematics had drawn resources away from foreign languages which were not included in the law’s accountability measures,” (Thompson 2). Mathematics, Science, English, Biology and other important subjects, but being bilingual can get you a variety of jobs. “Jobs as translators and interpreters are in the top 15 fastest-growing occupations in the United States, with nearly 25,000 translation and interpretation jobs expected to become available by 2020. This estimate does not even include jobs in the military, which actively recruits people with a variety of language skills,” (KOSTIUK 3).

Increasing the variety of languages in schools can heighten your child’s probability of getting not just a good job, but a good paying job. “Translators, on the other hand, are usually paid by the word. The average rate for translating the 30 most commonly used languages on the web was 13 cents in 2012… Speed is crucial to making the highest salary. For example, good translators who can do 2,500 to 3,000 words a day, would earn $325 to $390 a day, whereas a newbie to the field may be capable of far less,” ( Kurtz 2). Can you imagine the kind of future your child could have with that kind of money? That’s almost 150,000 a year.

But with schools providing languages convenient to their school district and not to what the children can do with it, you have classrooms of kids learning a language they’ll forget by the time to start college. Children who learn a language they like, motivates them to want to learn it and continue to learn it, finding a job that involves that language. For example, becoming an interpreter, retail sales consultant or even a substitute teacher. It may not sound like much, being an interpreter or a sub but, even if those are small jobs just image larger jobs your child could get. An office assistant: Even though it’s temporary, it pays $11.87-$14.54/hour, Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. That’s at least $530-$650 a week. $20,000 a month, $230,000 a year.

And that’s just one job. Just imagine the variety of jobs that are better than this one for the children of my generation. But by shoveling in a language the school wants the children to learn and not the child’s choice, my generation will get nowhere in terms of jobs and just surviving in this world. The world does revolve around money and money is education. But what if there’s no education? What money is there to get if you’re not learning anything?

This is the problem I’m bringing to you, future president, to find a way to contribute more money to the foreign language departments across schools. Giving us an actual opportunity in this world. A world that will soon be ours.


Melrina Stanford-Madden

New Media Magnet at Hollywood High School

Los Angeles, Calif.