JDS should offer more languages


Matan Silverberg, LT

Junior Josef Kay writes Mandarin Chinese characters down on paper. Many students have expressed interest in taking foreign languages, such as Chinese.

Stella Muzin, Reporter

When I first enrolled at CESJDS in eighth grade, I was faced with the decision to enroll in a third language or focus on my linguistic development in English and Hebrew. We’re lucky to have the option of taking Arabic or Spanish, but neither of those really appealed to me.

Instead, I wanted to take American Sign Language, a language spoken by over 500,000 people in North America. I’m not alone in wanting to study a language other than what is offered at JDS, and although JDS is lucky to have a phenomenal world languages department, at what point can we do better to accommodate? 

In our school, only 31% of students currently take a language other than Hebrew. In a recent survey of 65 JDS high school students, 64.3% of students said they would be more likely to enroll in a language elective if JDS offered more options. Many students said they would be interested in taking classes like Mandarin, ASL, French or Latin. 

“I come from a Spanish speaking household and would love to expand my knowledge of world languages,” freshman Layla Mopsick said. “I am particularly interested in learning French and other romantic languages.” 

In terms of conducting business, Mandarin is becoming more and more useful due to the rise of Chinese culture. Some may even consider Mandarin as a second English language across the world. 

However, adding more world languages into the in-person learning schedule would be challenging, as it would require hiring more teachers to add more classes to the schedule, which would be expensive. 

One way to solve these problems could be for JDS to encourage students to explore learning languages outside of school. For instance, students can enroll in online courses or get involved in a summer emergence program. Many students may not even be aware of these alternative options, and it is important to showcase them. JDS is lucky to have an amazing administration including Academic Dean Aileen Goldstein, who works to ensure that JDS offers in-demand classes.

“There’s a lot of other opportunities to learn languages,” Goldstein said. We have our online course program, where students can take online electives. That could be an avenue for people to explore.” “

As a school that values global citizenship, it is JDS’s responsibility to offer more language courses. By offering more than three courses, perhaps we can do better than 31% of students enrolling in language courses other than Hebrew.