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Are French and German obsolete?

Michael Cowden, Reporter

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Are French And German Obsolete?

 

Out of the 6,500 existing, (some extinct) languages, only three are taught here at Arvada West High School. Evidently, there are many ways people communicate around the world. Some commonly used languages are spoken more widespread and through many countries, while other languages are native to certain tribes or cultures. But how are these languages used? If Spanish would be the most beneficial to learn in Colorado, how could the other two languages taught at Arvada West, French and German, be used in the world?

Nous Parlons Français!

In a survey of students studying world languages in school, actfl.org states the 70% of high school students in the United States are taking Spanish, 15% are taking French and less than 5% of students are taking German. As for other countries in the world, europa.eu shows that 94% of European students are  learning English, and 23% are learning French. This might be surprising but looking at French geographically, parts of Africa as well as  Europe speak French, some as a native language and some as a business or an official language.

Ann Taylor, the French teacher at Arvada West talks about the importance of French and how it is not just limited to France. “French is still one of the official languages in Louisiana, and it is still used a lot up in the Northeast where they’re [people] close to Canada… Just like any language, if you do any international business or that type of thing it can be used and there are a lot more French speaking places than people realize.” Europe has four French speaking countries and being geographically close to Africa gives a couple of explanations on why French is the second most studied language in the European Union.

This map shows where French is spoken worldwide.

 

Nosotros Hablamos Español

 

 

Spanish is a language spanning from Mexico to the tip of Chile, as well as Spain. In the United States particularly in Texas, New Mexico and other states that are closer to Mexico’s border. More than 70% of students in kindergarten through 12th grade are currently taking a Spanish class in school, and it is the third most studied language in schools just behind English  and French  

With there being five Spanish teachers at Arvada West, (six if count the German teacher who teaches Spanish I)  and only one French and German teacher. Why don’t the other foreign languages have the same amount of teachers as the Spanish department? Julie Dill, a Spanish teacher at A-West says, “[Language] is a snapshot in time and space” Many people say that since the United States is closer to Latin America, and more Spanish speakers live here, Spanish is a useful tool to know if living in America. But instead of focusing on the ‘where, ’Dill gives insight on the ‘when’: “Most teachers here at A-West, probably took French, that was around 30 years ago; but now more students study Spanish. I took French in high school… my high school didn’t even offer Spanish.” And there could be a reason, according to this graph.  According to Hispanic population growth by the US Census Bureau link this Population Division, more Hispanics have been migrating here and more are expected to migrate, meaning a shift in not only language, but culture as well.

This graph shows the growth of the Hispanic population in the United States.

 

The United Cultural States

 

There are many  holidays that the US celebrates that are traditional in other countries such as France and Mexico. Taylor speaks about Mardi Gras, meaning “Fat Tuesday” in French: “It’s [Mardi Gras] probably gotten even bigger here because of the Mardi Gras in New Orleans… They celebrate Mardi Gras in Alabama and Mississippi and lots of the Southern States. [They] celebrate it not the way New Orleans does, not as big. There’s lots of celebrations down south and students get the whole week off at school.” Mardi Gras is a French holiday that is on the Tuesday before Lent, where people feast and party before giving something up until Easter. It is something that has made its way to the US from France

There are also Latin American holidays celebrated in the USA, such as Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) and Cinco de Mayo (The Fifth of May)  Día de los Muertos is where people come to honor their dead family members by having dinner with them. This includes lots of food and parties as well as costumes, music and celebration of someone’s life. Cinco de Mayo is to remember when the Spanish won a battle against the French in the Battle of Puebla on May fifth. This is commonly confused for Mexico’s independence day which is actually in September. Cinco de Mayo is a day that brings food,  partying, and celebration across  Mexico and the United States.

 

Wir Sprechen Deutsch

 

German is a language that is not  spoken in many countries, but is important when it comes to certain jobs and business. Jeannine Kaiser, Arvada West’s only German teacher talks about the importance of German: “A lot of alternative energy sources, such as wind [energy] comes from Germany, all of the manuals are written in German; so they have to be translated into English… also if you’re getting into pharmaceuticals, lots of pharmaceutical companies are German.” But there are more uses for German than just translating manuals. “ Engineering, science even philosophy… and music too. A lot of composers were German speaking like Mozart was from Austria, and Bach, Beethoven and others were from Germany.”

Lots of different jobs, music and advancements and engineering and science use the language of German, but German music and tech aren’t the only things celebrated in the United States. Jeannine Kaiser, a German teacher at A-West states that, “Oktoberfest was basically a wedding feast… for a person of nobility. Everyone had so much fun it was done year after year after year. It’s only been stopped during the wars or certain periods of illness…” Oktoberfest has been altered in the US to revolve around beer. It is often said to be a German holiday, but that is not exactly the case. “It was actually a Bavarian custom, from the city of Munich, but it’s not all of German culture, there’s a lot of different things.

Adios, Au Revoir, Auf Wiedersehen

As Dill said, “Most teachers here at A-West probably took French, that was around 30 years ago; but now more students study Spanish… [Language] is a snapshot in time and space.” It changes, and will continue to do so. French was widely popular some 30 years ago, and German could take the reigns in the future, as Spanish has today. French and German are still taught to many students at Arvada West and are still vital around the world.  

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The student news site of Arvada West High School
Are French and German obsolete?