Foreign Language Education in Myth and Reality


  • Theodore E. Rose

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      THEODORE E. ROSE (Ph.D., New York Univ.) is Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, and Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He has studied in Mexico, in Brazil on a fellowship, and in Spain on a Fulbright. He has taught on the elementary and secondary school levels in the U.S. and has taught English and American literature in Brazil. A member of many professional groups, he has directed the Experienced Teacher Fellowship Program, edited the Wisconsin Spanish Teacher, and served as consultant for Macmillan on Invitación al español by Zenia Da Silva. His articles have appeared in such journals as Modern Language Journal, Wisconsin Journal of Education, and Top of the News.


ABSTRACT  Throughout today's educational process, the key word is “relevance.” Secondary school students find a great disparity between much of what goes on in the classroom and their daily life activities, and they are not reluctant to voice their dissatisfactions. Thus, much of the success of the programs in today's curriculum may be in direct proportion to student relevance. Foreign language programs are no exception. In spite of the fact that foreign language often masquerades as an elective subject, many students still choose it to fulfill college entrance or college prep requirements. Those who do not are often disillusioned when the initial pleasurable experience of the new language and culture gives way to the necessity of abundant hard work for continual success. As audiolingual foreign language enters its teen years, we must reexamine our aims and objectives and grapple with adolescent problems. To do this, we must first examine the present status of foreign language teaching and realize the disparity between some of the prevalent myths and realities, in order to be in a more tenable position for revising our goals to assure relevance of our field, and for defending or justifying our place in the curriculum of our present-day schools.