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Language options: Going beyond Spanish

By Margaret Smith

Salisbury Post intern

When it comes to language selection, high schools have few options. Four public high schools in Rowan County offer only Spanish. Salisbury High School offers French and Latin, while Carson has a wide range of languages to choose from.

With the loss of the Latin program, Spanish became the only option for many students at West Rowan High – so they thought.

I’d already taken three years of Latin before Steve Daniel, the superb Latin teacher, retired from West Rowan at the end of last semester, but as I have an interest in linguistics, I opted to fill a hole in my schedule with another language.

Soon, I was enrolled in a Russian class through North Carolina Virtual Public Schools, an online program for public schools in North Carolina at www.ncvps.com. Through NCVPS, a student can take languages ranging from German to Japanese to Arabic – but it doesn’t stop there. Multitudes of non-language, honors and AP classes are also available.

For an hour and a half every day, I learn how to speak Russian through activities and note-taking. Twice a week, I join a chat room run by NCVPS to practice speaking Russian with a native speaker.

Dylan Turner, who has signed up to learn Mandarin Chinese next year, said his reasoning was “there isn’t a huge selection at West Rowan.” He wants to use Mandarin in his future endeavors, and is very excited about his opportunity to take the language online, saying, “I felt very limited in my language class options, so I decided to increase my options by taking an online course.”

Unfortunately, this is not only a problem for Rowan County, but for the entire nation. Only 20 percent of American citizens can speak a second language compared to over 50 percent of Europeans. Once out of school, the options for learning a second language become increasingly more expensive.

Allison Doby, school counselor at West, highly recommends North Carolina Virtual Public Schools. She feels that the program helps to continue education in a way high school alone could not. There is certain to be something in this program for everybody, and it is a “great way to make sure students stay engaged and interested in their high school and future career.”

The program provides the opportunity, but there isn’t enough awareness of the options available – only about five to 10 students at West enroll in an NCVPS class per semester.

When asked for any advice to students considering the program, Doby said, “Don’t be afraid to talk to your school counselor about other opportunities, and don’t feel limited to the options at your high school.”

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