Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Based on the title, you might think this post is about Bo Schembechler, former University of Michigan football coach.
Sorry, no. This post is about Bo, an ancient language from India's Andaman Islands. Unfortunately, the last native speaker of Bo just died recently. (If you click on the link and scroll down, you can listen to a recording of Boa Sr speaking the language Bo.) You can read more about endangered languages here and here.
My grandparents, who grew up in Europe and immigrated to the United States, spoke at least four or five languages. Living where they did, where the land changed hands between countries fairly frequently, and where different ethnic groups lived close to each other, that was a necessity. Here in the U.S., there is a tendency to see people as geniuses if they even speak one language other than English fairly well.
The main Ann Arbor high schools teach three Romance languages: Spanish, French, and Latin; and one Germanic language, German (plus English, which is also a Germanic language). And at Skyline now they are teaching Chinese. I have felt it is too little. Why isn't the rest of the world represented?
I just got a glimpse of the Skyline class scheduling options for next year. All of the AAPS high schools are now offering the possibility of taking online classes in Math (algebra, geometry) and English (ninth grade and tenth grade English).
So here is what I don't understand. If we are offering online classes for subjects where we already have perfectly good local teachers, why on earth can't we offer online classes for languages where we don't already have local teachers? Why can't we offer Arabic, Japanese, Hindu, and even Ojibway on line? Isn't that the point of this kind of technology?


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. That is a very good idea; there are an amazing number of really good online resources for learning languages; I used to follow a very good podcast for learning Chinese which I listen to regularly when I had a long commute -tho now that I'm an A2 resident that's fallen away. I do encourage my high school aged daughter to use them to supplement her Spanish class.