Manteca Unified would like to expand foreign language offerings designed to make graduates more competitive in the growing Pacific Rim economy.
The only problem is finding qualified teachers.
“In the past we have tried to hire Chinese or Japanese language teachers,” noted Manteca Unified Superintendent Jason Messer. “It is difficult to find teachers for those languages.”
Messer said hiring Chinese and Japanese language teachers is a district goal depending upon funding and the securing of qualified teachers.
Spanish is offered at all of the district’s five comprehensive high schools. French is taught at Manteca High Lathrop High. Students from Sierra can take French at Lathrop High.
East Union High offers Italian.
The district is phasing out an option that once allowed eighth grade students to take Spanish at high schools. The change is being made due to a shift to block scheduling at the high school level.
According to studies conducted by the State Department of Education, “If California students are to become world-class business leaders, they will require an education comparable to their overseas peers. European and Asian students begin their foreign language education in elementary school. Educators and policymakers in their countries recognize that language instruction begun at an early age allows students more time to develop proficiency. In Germany children begin to study a foreign language in grade five; in Japan and South Korea, children begin in grade six. Consequently, in international business negotiations, most of today’s business leaders in California know less about the Japanese culture and language than their Japanese counterparts know about English and the culture of the United States.
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