Proficiency in another language does not mean speaking that language perfectly. Proficiency is the ability to use a language spontaneously in real-world situations. Proficient communicators can understand and be understood by speakers of the studied language. There are many levels of proficiency, from Novice to Distinguished.
In Hopkinton, students who begin studying a language in 7th grade and continue through 12th grade should reach an Intermediate level of proficiency. Some will even attain Advanced proficiency. See graphic below from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages for descriptions of the proficiency levels.
- Chinese is the most spoken language in the world.
- Chinese is a designated “critical” language. English speakers of Mandarin are in very high demand--so much so, that our government has created a program designed to produce a million English speakers of Mandarin before 2020 (US, China STRONG).
- China has one of the world’s fastest growing economies, making the knowledge of Mandarin an asset for future business leaders.
- Chinese is a Category 5 language, meaning that it will take up to 4 times longer to learn than French or Spanish (FSI Categories).
- You must learn to read and write many Chinese characters. This takes hand/eye coordination and much practice. (Chinese Characters)
- Chinese is a tonal language. Correct pronunciation is very important (Perfect Pitch)
- More: Why Learn Chinese?
- France is the number one tourist destination in the world.
- French is second only to English as a second language choice. It is the sole official language of 13 countries and the co-official in 16 countries.
- French is the language of our largest trading partner, Canada.
- French is a very useful business language in the medical, space and technology fields.
- French shares more cognates with English than any other language according to many sources.
- French is a Category 1 language, meaning it’s one of the easiest to learn for speakers of English (FSI Categories).
- French pronunciation and spelling can be difficult for some because there are many silent letters in French.
- Advanced French grammar can be difficult, but many argue it is not as difficult as Spanish.
- Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world and in the USA. The USA has the second largest Spanish speaking population in the world.
- Over 13% of families in the United States speak Spanish at home (2014 Census), making Spanish speaking consumers our fastest growing target group for businesses in the United States. This number is projected to grow to 25% by 2050.
- Spanish is the official language of 21 countries.
- Spanish is a Category 1 language, meaning it’s one of the easiest to learn for speakers of English (FSI Categories).
- Advanced Spanish grammar can be difficult; many argue more difficult than French.
- Spanish pronunciation and spelling is phonetic, making it one of the easiest languages to spell and to pronounce.
More: Why Learn Spanish?