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Letter to the editor: Foreign language program shouldn’t be cut from JPS

It is a very human characteristic to often not realize the meaning of an element of our lives until after we have experienced its loss. I can attest to that regarding the loss of my parents. Even though I knew of their health issues, until the actual passing the grief could not be experienced. I have read in German a saying that when an elderly person passes away, it is as if a library has burnt down.

Likewise, if we are to lose the existing French program of the Jamestown Public Schools, in just thinking about it in advance we won’t comprehend our future loss. It will be after the fact that we experience its lack. Then we will sense the diminishing of our cultural heritage.

As a person who worked alongside others for 18 years to help develop foreign language programs in one North Dakota high school, I can tell you that it takes a lot of effort over many years on the part of teachers and administrators to develop a meaningful four-year foreign language program and to keep it going. However, I can also attest that each individual language program makes a significant difference in the lives of those students who get deeply involved, be it in French, German or Spanish. Each language seems to have its own clientele, its own followers who rightly study it for their own idiosyncratic reasons: culture, heritage, commerce, travel and many others.

It will be a significant benefit to our schools to keep the current four-year French language program with its scope and sequence which serve to develop fluency. Keeping our four-year program intact will make an important difference to many of the students who will benefit from the experience, each in his or her own way, but some certainly very significantly.