HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Arts & Humanities » Languages and Linguistics (Group) » IME, American public scho...

Mon Dec 10, 2012, 04:49 PM

IME, American public schools tended to teach French more than any other language.


(not counting English).

I'm referring to, like the 1950's - going into the 1970's.

I believe I read somewhere that because some schools stopped teaching German because of WWI.

But even so, what was the big deal about French? Even in the 1950's there were far more Spanish speakers than French speakers in the Western Hemisphere.

So...why was French so often the foreign-language-of-choice?


8 replies, 3246 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 8 replies Author Time Post
Reply IME, American public schools tended to teach French more than any other language. (Original post)
raccoon Dec 2012 OP
Lydia Leftcoast Dec 2012 #1
raccoon Dec 2012 #2
geardaddy Dec 2012 #3
Lydia Leftcoast Dec 2012 #4
geardaddy Dec 2012 #5
JennyD Mar 2014 #7
Lydia Leftcoast Mar 2014 #8
AsahinaKimi Feb 2013 #6

Response to raccoon (Original post)

Mon Dec 10, 2012, 05:50 PM

1. It was the prestigious foreign language and the language of international diplomacy

up until World War II. Paris was the cultural capital of Europe, where the most advanced and adventurous art, music, literature, and film was being produced. A lot of American artists and musicians and actors and writers lived there for at least a couple of years in the first half of the twentieth century. My stepfather's parents, who were both pianists, spent the first two years of their married life (1910-12) in Paris, which was when everybody who was anybody in the arts lived and/or studied there.

Rich people the world over, especially in Imperial Russia, but also in the U.S. and England, hired French governesses so that their children would grow up as semi-native speakers of French.

Furthermore, a lot of American GIs passed through France in World War I and World War II.

It was the European country that most Americans knew about.

Spanish was taught in the American Southwest, California, and Texas, which had strong cultural ties with Mexico, and in the New York area, where there were Puerto Rican immigrants, but until recent years, there simply weren't that many Latinos in most parts of the U.S.

In the 1960s, there was ONE Mexican restaurant in the entire Twin Cities metropolitan area.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #1)

Mon Dec 10, 2012, 06:21 PM

2. Incredible! " ONE Mexican restaurant in the entire Twin Cities metropolitan area"


I had to take French in high school; it was the only foreign language offered.

But I always wanted to take Spanish. In undergrad I did.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #1)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 01:16 PM

3. Was the restaurant "Little Tijuana"?

I went to grade school with the kid whose dad owned it.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to geardaddy (Reply #3)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 04:51 PM

4. No, it was La Casa Coronado in St. Paul

serving exotic fare like tacos and enchiladas in the 1960s.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #4)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 04:56 PM

5. Yep, that makes sense.

With the sizable Latino community in St. Paul.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #1)

Tue Mar 25, 2014, 10:49 AM

7. Maybe social class matters?

 

I just came across this thread while browsing.

I grew up in an area where it was predominantly Mexican. Spanish would have been useful for everyone to learn. In high school I took Spanish but I noticed that several of my more affluent peers wanted to learn French or Japanese (our school offered French, Japanese, German and American Sign Language) to satisfy their foreign language requirements. Maybe it was the teachers who taught the courses that influenced their decisions, or it could have been the school trips that the French learners got to go on. But, looking back, it did seem like those who came from a purely English speaking background (and from richer homesteads) had absolutely no interest in Spanish. This is based purely on observation, but there seemed (at least in my community) to be an elitist element to learning French and/or any language other than Spanish. Like I said, this is purely observational. Don't want to ruffle any feathers with this.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to JennyD (Reply #7)

Tue Mar 25, 2014, 01:02 PM

8. I have encountered snooty attitudes against Spanish

Until the mid 1990s, Reed College in Portland, Oregon, which has very high admissions standards and attracts a lot of brilliant non-conforming types, did not have a Spanish department, nor could you start Spanish there. They offered only second-year Spanish for those who had taken it in high school.

They did have full French, German, Russian, Latin, and Greek programs.

Finally, in the late 1990s, they added Spanish and Chinese.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to raccoon (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 01:11 PM

6. When I was going to high school

The language groups were: French, Spanish, Latin, and German. No Asian languages. I understand they teach Tagalog, and Mandarin Chinese now at my old school. I would have loved to have had more Japanese in my early child hood days but my parents wouldn't have it. My mother was an English Teacher, despite she spoke Japanese and Korean fluently along with English. My father speaks Kansai ben a dialect of the Osaka~Kansai district. He told me I should learn standardize Japanese before he would ever teach me Kansai ben. I had to take Japanese in College.. and later at a language School. I wish my parents had made me bilingual from the start.. I went to school with many Chinese friends, many of whom spoke English, Mandarin and Cantonese fluently. Many times they would ask me .."What does this mean in Japanese" and I had no clue. An American kid growing up with an Asian face.. and I wanted to be bilingual so badly.. finally I got the chance.. and I dug into it!

Yatta!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread