I have many regrets in life and one of them is not taking learning a second language when in high school and college.
At ole Grandview Heights High School, a suburb of Columbus, a student had three choices: Latin (far too hard for my lack of language skills), French (I don't like France) and Spanish (which I took by default since a foreign language was mandatory in the college preparatory curriculum).
I struggled through a few of years of Spanish, learning only what was required because I foolishly and egotistically thought there never would be a need for me to know anything other than good, old English ... the then-predominant language of the world. Besides, the boorish Spanish teacher and I did not get along ... to the point where he knocked me out of my desk chair one day between classes and I, being hot tempered, retaliated, for which I was expelled for about 10 minutes while the principal yelled at the teacher for committing assault and battery. After that little incident my future in the Spanish class was at risk ... from both my perspective of wanting to learn anything and the teacher's perspective of wanting to teach me anything. The Spanish teacher left the school district at the end of the semester.
Since I had completed a couple of years of foreign language in high school, I wasn't required to take a foreign language in college, a policy I believe has been changed at most colleges and certainly should have been different when I was at university.
Sadly, I never got beyond my current limited ability to read Spanish and pick up only a couple of words in a conversation.
My daughter, on the other hand, has an excellent ear for languages and took Spanish in high school, learned Danish while a foreign exchange student, took German in college, putting it to the test while studying a semester in Vienna, Austria. Married to a German national, she has the opportunity to keep her German skills up to pace.
Unlike American schools, when my daughter was in Denmark, students were not only learning Danish but also concurrently taking classes in English, French, German and Spanish, while classes in Polish, Russian and Italian were offered. Granted, Denmark is a small nation with other nations only a short drive (or train) away, making it more important to be able to communicate in a variety of languages. But it still is worth noting their language comprehension far outweighs that of most U.S. school systems.
A study by the Committee for Economic Development says U.S. students are falling behind other nation's students in learning foreign languages, which is putting U.S. businesses at a disadvantage globally.
While nearly all European and Asian elementary students study a foreign language, 97 percent of Ohio and Kentucky students can't because courses are not offered. In Wood County schools, only a few languages are offered at the high school level.
Even at the college level, a RAND Corp. study of 16 global companies found most to be critical of U.S. college graduates' abilities in foreign languages.
Maybe we need a "no nation left behind" program where U.S. students aren't taking a back seat to other nations' students in learning a foreign language or two, but, of course, that means more foreign language teachers would have to be recruited and paid and expanding curriculum doesn't seem to be the direction of the day.
It will be interesting to see if the November election results match the eight Ohio newspapers' poll on the gambling issue in Ohio.
The Ohio Newspaper Poll indicated 59 percent of registered voters support Issue 3 on the Nov. 3 ballot, while 38 percent oppose it. Three percent were undecided. Passage of the issue would put casinos in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo. Southwestern Ohio showed the strongest support while northwest Ohio showed the weakest.
Contact Jim Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.