Languages going in, languages going out

April 3, 2013 — by Helen Wong

The foreign language program has offered many languages since the school was founded in 1959, including Latin, German and Japanese. All three of those languages have been phased out due to lack of sign-ups.

The foreign language program has offered many languages since the school was founded in 1959, including Latin, German and Japanese. All three of those languages have been phased out due to lack of sign-ups.
 German, which was once quite popular, was discontinued in the late ‘80s. The language was taught by Anita Norans from 1980 to 1987.
After it was cut, Saratoga students who wished to take German could take it at Los Gatos if needed. Norrans cited a changing student mentality at the school as the reason German declined in popularity.
“German simply went out of fashion with the students,” said Norans. “It happens.”
In contrast, Spanish has never lost its momentum since being introduced at the opening of the school back in 1959.
Arnaldo Rodriguex, who teaches Spanish, has been at the school for 39 years, long enough to watch several languages come and go.
“We had German, Latin, and Japanese go, but now, we have Chinese,” said Rodriguez. “When we started Chinese, we did it to go along with the changing demographics.”
Changing demographics are a key factor in determining the languages to be taught at SHS, and Chinese turned out to be one of the results of a rising Asian-American populace when it was introduced thirteen years ago. 
While the introduction of Chinese was controversial at first due to concerns that it would squeeze out Japanese, Chinese became a popular language fairly quickly and did indeed overtake Japanese.
 “We started to get more students of Chinese descent that wanted to take the language, so we had to adjust as was proper,” said Rodriguex.
The Chinese program is robust and shows no signs of failing any time soon, though there were initially a few bumps in the road.
“We had many students enter the Chinese program who already had a grasp of the language,” said Rodriguex. “It kind of intimidated non-Asian students, but now, we have more diversity in the program, with non-Asian students.”
Peer pressure is also a factor in determining the popularity of a language. 
“[German, Latin, and Japanese] were great,” said Rodriguex. “But, students make their own choices, and their friends often influence them.”
The language department does its best to keep teaching the languages that students want to learn.
“Learning another language is always good, always beneficial,” Rodriguex said. “We, as the teachers, do what we can. We listen to our students.”
 
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