By Keely Wiese
May 1, 2015
Ciao! Now that is not a greeting you usually hear in the halls of Monticello.
That’s because Italian is one of the foreign languages not currently offered as a class. At least not this year. Though that doesn’t mean a student couldn’t study it if he really wanted to. It also certainly doesn’t mean that this class will never be offered in the future.
If a Monticello student wishes to pursue a foreign language not currently offered as a class, he has a couple of options. He can either study it online or request it as one of his courses, while hoping that 14 others do the same. No matter what, the bottom line is that the students are the driving force behind what they learn.
Mr. Mann backed up this idea. “I think some students know that, but a lot don’t, about how much power the students have in a school because of what they have requested. It generates the kinds of courses we offer in the future,” he said.
As of this year, Monticello only offers four language courses. I further explore the reasons for taking these languages (Spanish, German, Latin, and French) in Eenie Meenie Miney Moe, Which Language Should I Choose To Know.
This (the fact that MHS only offers four foreign languages) wasn’t always the case.
A couple of years ago, a now-retired math teacher, Mr. Tucker, offered both Chinese I and Russian I in his zero periods. Unfortunately, since he has left, there have not been enough students interested in pursuing each language, so he has not been replaced.
Then, at one point an Italian teacher was almost hired to create some Italian classes. There were the numbers and the excitement, but it didn’t happen.
The reason it fell through?
Funding. Specifically: the lack thereof.
The money for staffing is tight. There isn’t enough money for a small class. For this reason, there must be a minimum of 15 students interested for a class to be offered.
That isn’t to say that new classes can’t be formed. As long as 15 different students request a class like Japanese I, the school will look to find someone that can teach that class either on part or full-time.
While students wait for an actual class to be offered, they have the opportunity to study online. Students can use sites like Rosetta Stone and Brigham Young in an independent study class.
Many students are hesitant to learn a language online because of the limited speaking and listening experience. It can be very difficult for students to become fluent in a foreign language if they rarely practice it out loud.
Ms. Weaver, who oversees APEX online courses at MHS, said, “I don’t know. though, that you can really acquire a language just with you and a computer.”
At the end of the day, Monticello teachers and counselors want their students to know that they have the power to take control of their education. Whether students choose to learn it online, or try and take it in school, it is up to them to push for a course if it is a class that they really care about.
Mr. Mann had some final thoughts. “ I always hear from students that are interested in a language we don’t offer,” he said. “…Enrollments drive the train, students have a lot of power.”