Archive for November 24th, 2009

Use of the term “foreign languages”

Good morning and a happy Thanksgiving to everyone. This post is to discuss the use of the term “foreign languages”. I must confess that it is becoming a peeve of mine to read references, policy documents, and position papers containing the term “foreign languages”. What are those? Aren’t all languages foreign to someone, depending on who’s using the term?  I advocate that we use the terms “diverse languages”, “non-English languages”, or use descriptors of language families (e.g. Indo-European or more specifically Germanic, Slavic, etc). To refer to English as English and other languages as foreign seems just a wee bit Anglocentric to me and perhaps facilitates the perception that the “foreign language” is somehow a distant idea or an uncommon notion.  The truth is we in the United States represent a diverse and rich linguistic tapestry and many non-English languages are no longer foreign here.

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