Japanese, Mandarin, Khmer, Hindi, and Latin — these are some of the many foreign language courses available to students from local high schools in the Stockton area. With a variety of foreign language courses to choose from, students are able to gain exposure to a variety of different cultures.
However, Bear Creek High School offers fewer foreign classes than any of the other high schools in the Stockton and Lodi District with a mere two: Spanish and Italian.
Because fewer foreign language course are available at Bear Creek, students are left with the choice of either taking Spanish, Italian, or nothing at all.
“Students who are fluent in Spanish should have other options,” junior Allison Watkins said. “And our school should be open to diverse languages beside keeping the ones that are most spoken.”
Due to budget cuts and an insufficient number of teachers, Bear Creek’s French course was dropped last year. With the former French course, students were able to learn a language and culture that was not common in California.
“French was different,” junior Victor Lu says. “It wasn’t a language that most people would take. Usually you would see people only carrying around Spanish textbooks. Italian would have been my second choice if I knew more people who were taking it.”
However, some former French students argued that despite taking the course, it was not as beneficial as they thought it would be. Prior to the discontinuance of Bear Creek’s French course, students enrolled in the class were already struggling as their lessons were replaced with Rosetta Stone, an online language-learning software.
“It wasn’t really much help taking French courses online because it wasn’t the same experience as learning it first hand or verbally,” junior Jacqueline Gaspar said. “I wished I could have learned more.”
According to the Center for Applied Linguistics, more schools are cutting down the less popular courses such as Mandarin or Latin, and keeping the more well-known courses such as Spanish.
“Before I came to Bear Creek, I believed that German was offered as well,” Spanish II and III teacher Señor Gil said. “But, like French, there wasn’t enough signups. Spanish is a very popular language spoken in California, but I also believe Asian languages such as Mandarin or [Khmer] should be taught as well.”
Italian I, II, and III are still available for students besides Spanish. Students enrolling in Italian agreed that while it was not a popular language to learn, it was beneficial.
“I chose Italian because I thought it would look more interesting on my college apps and make me look unique,” senior Golden Nguyen said. “[Italian] was also beneficial because I learned many Latin roots which helped improved my vocabulary.”
Because UCs and CSUs require a minimum of three years of the same foreign language, students are restricted to foreign language courses solely for the credit they’ll receive.
“I would have loved to learn any new or different language,” junior Bernadette Baguyo said. “Just learning a different language other than the one people know would have been a really educational and fun experience.”