The importance of teaching the next generation their native tongue

Local News

(WKBN) – America is made up of many races and cultures. This means second languages are more common than ever.

Not only can a second language be beneficial in the business world, but it is a part of many people’s identity.

“You want to know that you are part of something, this is a community,” said Mirit Sharon, who teaches Hebrew in Israel.

Sharon previously taught children Hebrew in Washington DC. She said having that language communication between parents and children is important.

“I was teaching in the Jewish community in Washington DC, and the parents want their children to know Hebrew, because this is the language of the Jewish people, but they don’t know Hebrew by themselves, so they can’t help their children,” she said.

The Census Bureau reported that from 2009 to 2013 there were 74 million Americans between the ages of 18-34, 32 million of them were minorities. 

It also reported that roughly 18 million Americans between 18-34 spoke a foreign language at home.  

Although the number of Americans who speak a second language is increasing throughout the years, some feel it is important that the second language is taught from one generation to the next.

“I think this is very important that it would come from home,” Sharon said.

“We have one faculty member here, who is married to an Italian, and they make a conscious effort, they speak only Italian at home so their daughter is growing up truly bilingual,” said Dr. John Sarkissian, chair of the Department of World Languages and Cultures at YSU.

Many times, when foreigners would come to the states they would speak only English in an attempt to become more “Americanized.” This often times lead to the following generation not being taught that native language.

“It’s understandable how the language gets lost. One comes to America and one wants to be American, so it’s very easy to understand how one lets the native language lapse,” Sarkissian said.

Sarkissian and Sharon both agree, it’s important for the next generation to know their native tongue, so their culture can live on. 

“This is a great way to show them how important this is,” Sharon said.

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