To the editor:
I am responding to your article in the Feb. l9 issue of the Journal-World regarding the challenges schools face in trying to teach English as a second language to foreign students.
Instead of using up precious resources and time, consider this: It has been amply demonstrated that most children have an innate ability to learn a foreign language even if they are put in an environment where only the language of the host country is spoken - English in this case.
I can testify that the "sink or swim" method works wonders. When at age 8, I was forced to leave my native country and was thrust into a classroom where the only language spoken was French, which bore no similarity to my native German, there were no programs to help me "assimilate." Not understanding a word of what was said in class was difficult at first, but the totally forced immersion worked wonders. By the end of the school year I spoke French fluently, and I know that my case is by no means unique.
It has always been my contention that we would be doing non-English speakers a huge favor by letting them absorb English on their own rather than treating them differently from their classmates. No other country makes these accommodations for their foreign guests or immigrants, and there is no reason why we should.