French 1 reoffered, Japanese 1 put on the back burner

September 9, 2009 — by Lillian Chen and Girish Swaminath

With the beginning of the new academic year, several changes in the world language department have occurred. For the first time in two years, the school is offering French 1 while Japanese 1 has been cut.

Laura Lizundia is currently teaching the beginning French course and is excited to introduce new students to the Francophone world.

“It’s great to be teaching [French 1] again,” said Lizundia. “Although I have to start all over again and refresh myself through the curriculum, it will be very good for me and my students.”

However, on behalf of the entire world language department, Lizundia desires to make one thing clear to the public: that the French program is not in danger of being cut.

“Currently, there is no desire to get rid of the French program,” said Lizundia. “It was not ever in jeopardy, and is only getting larger year after year. French 1 was not offered the past two years only because there were not enough students to fill the seats.”

Lizundia speculates that perhaps signups for the class increased because of the heightened awareness of the activities of the French program.

“Ever since last year, our program has been more involved in activities with other schools, such as partnered cultural celebrations with Los Gatos High School French students and debates in French with Monta Vista and Lynbrook,” said Lizundia. “Perhaps, through these extra cultural participation events, people considered the option of taking French more strongly.”

Lizundia also suggests that the recent uptick in Saratoga High’s European population could be a factor, in addition to the temporary phasing out of Japanese 1.

“I have observed that more Europeans have moved to Saratoga and are encouraging their children to take French,” said Lizundia. “Unfortunately, [the French department] may have gained more signups due to the dearth of students signed up for Japanese 1 this year.”

Japanese 1 was a course that had been offered since the early 1990s. Japanese teacher Yuko Aoki, who had taught Japanese for over 15 years, is disappointed to see Japanese 1 be cut from the list of electives offered.

“When I first started teaching at Saratoga, there were many students that were eager to study Japanese,” said Aoki. “I feel very sad to see the number of students who enroll for Japanese 1 decrease every year.”

Aoki explains that in March 2009, it was already decided by the district and administrators that Japanese 1 would no longer be offered for the 2009-2010 school year. The four freshmen who were interested, however, made special arrangements during the summer to take a placement test in order to join Japanese 2 for this school year.

“I received e-mails from another four students at the end of summer who wanted to take Japanese 1 as well,” said Aoki. “But it was already too late for them.”

Aoki feels that if perhaps the school had waited longer and saw how many students were interested, Japanese 1 may not have been removed from the curriculum.

“Japanese is a challenging class, [but] with results,” said Aoki. “Everybody passes Japanese AP.”

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