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Why Study a Second Language? State Requirements What You Can Do Getting Involved
Parent-Teacher Partnerships Links to Documentation FAQ Internet Safety

Why Study a Second Language?

Students of foreign languages:

  • Score statistically higher on standardized tests conducted in English;
  • Display enhanced memory, listening, and reading skills;
  • Acquire a deeper understanding of their own culture as they explore the culture of other countries;
  • Demonstrate better complex problem solving;
  • Are poised speakers in front of small or large groups;
  • Exhibit accelerated cognitive brain development in areas such as mental flexibility, creativity, divergent thinking and higher order thinking skills;
  • Have opportunities for a greater number of career choices.

The above modified from NYSUT Brochure: Helping Your Child to Be a Successful Second Language Learner


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What are NYS Requirements for Foreign Languages?

Here you will find links to requirements for the study of foreign languages at both State and national levels.


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What You Can Do at Home

Learning a foreign language is a long process that requires time spent in class and at home studying and experiencing the foreign language. Here are some simple and fun things that can make a world of difference in your child’s success in foreign languages:

  • Ask your child or the teacher the topic/unit they are learning in class and be part of it! If your child is learning about food, it might be a good opportunity to cook a dish from a country where the foreign language is spoken and go over food items in the foreign language with your child!
  • Encourage your child to practice with you at home. Let your child read or speak to you in the language and perhaps, let your child teach you some foreign language.
  • Do not focus on the pronunciation or getting it right at first ... practice makes perfect! - Be creative and try to come up with a game to learn vocabulary words or to remember a tricky pronunciation.
  • Expose your child to people from varied language and cultural backgrounds.
  • Speak positively about the value of learning a second language.
  • Provide videos, music and books in other languages. Your local library or the internet can be a great and
    free bank of resources.
  • Find a pen pal: Once your child is a bit older and knows the basics in a foreign language, finding a pen
    pal is a great way to practice the language and exert some independence. Having a pen pal abroad is a great way to learn about culture in another country and appreciate the differences in lifestyle, e.g. school, food, holidays, hobbies, etc.

Remember: As a parent, you are your child's first and most important teacher. When parents and families are involved in their children's learning of a foreign language, the children do better and have better feelings about their foreign language study.

NYSAFLT would love to hear from parents and share with others different strategies you may use at home with your child’s study of a foreign language.


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Building Strong Parent-Teacher Partnership

Communication with school is essential and talking to the foreign language teacher is equally important! Get in touch with your child’s foreign language teacher and ask about things you can do to reinforce the learning that is taking place in the classroom. Your child’s foreign language teacher will be more than happy to know about your involvement and will offer copies of the curriculum, links to web sites, homework requirements, additional worksheets etc.

  • Get a copy of the curriculum/syllabus/program of study
  • Ask about ways you can get involved in the foreign language classroom (cooking demonstration for example)
  • Attend open school nights/meetings
  • Join the Parents Teachers Association

Here are some additional links for parents who are not sure about how to build a strong parent-teacher partnership.

What is your child learning in foreign languages?
Check out The Office of Bilingual Education of the New York State Department of Education
Programs can be found under publications.

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Getting Involved in the Foreign Language Programs

As a parent and language partner, your involvement in the foreign language programs of the school district your child is in can be a fun and very rewarding experience. It helps build a strong partnership between the school, the community, and you as a language partner! Your voice and involvement in the foreign language programs can go a long way!

Here is a list of things you can start doing in your community to advocate for and support foreign languages

  • Encourage your school to begin second language study as early as possible. Studies show that the earlier you start, the more likely you are to achieve fluency. Inquire about Foreign Language in the Elementary School (FLES) programs. Contact the National Network for Early Language Learning, NNELL, for more information.
  • Help in identifying the community second language resources.
  • Participate and/or organize local and regional events where language and cultural diversity are celebrated. Help sponsor those events in your child’s school. You can offer suggestions to your child’s foreign language teacher to organize a fundraiser, a bake sale, etc.
  • There are a lot of celebrations in the foreign language classroom all school year round; find out how you can contribute and be part of it!
  • Encourage programs, extra-curricular clubs (such as National Honor Society, Foreign Language Clubs, etc.) which will highlight student success in LOTE for the community, school and families at large.

If you would like to know more about how to get involved in your child’s learning of a foreign language, in your district LOTE programs, opportunities for cultural exchange ... any questions you may have ... ASK!

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NOTE: NYSAFLT does not endorse or receive compensation for any of the links found below. NYSAFLT cannot be help liable for the content that is found on the following links. You are advised to explore the links at your own risk. NYASFLT assumes no responsibility for the content found at any of the following links.

This section offers a variety of web links for the perfect language partner!

Explore the Foreign Languages

Become a Foreign Language Advocate in your community:

Parents Push for Foreign Language Classes:

Find a pen pal

Local, State and National Foreign Language Associations

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Frequently Asked Questions

You will find here frequently asked questions by parents of second language learners.

Q: I studied a foreign language several years ago and I do not remember anything and did not like it then so much – how can I help my child now?

A: The most important thing is to leave behind your concerns and worries from previous bad experiences in foreign language learning. As your child embarks on his/her foreign language learning, it is a great opportunity to start over and begin to learn with your child! For example, letting your child teach you a bit of the language or asking him/her for some words/expressions is a great way to manifest your involvement and spark a new motivation for both you and your child.

Q: How can I find out what my child is studying in foreign language class?

A: Your child’s school may make available their curriculum for each subject directly on line. If not, get in touch with the foreign language teacher or the building principal to request a copy of the curriculum. A curriculum (also called a syllabus or program of study) will give you an outline of how the school year is divided into different topics and units developed in class.

Q: I would like my child to begin the study of a foreign language earlier but my district only offers foreign language in Junior High. What could I do?

A: First and foremost, work diligently to help in the development and implementation of a foreign language program on the elementary level, but consider other activities that will help nurture the development of such a program. Ask your district about possibilities to run an after school club or integrate foreign language activities in an existing elementary program. . If you know other parents feel the same way you do, perhaps you can gather a group and offer this suggestion to the school district. Also, the Internet offers a wide variety of interactive and fun resources for your child to start the learning of a foreign language; check the LINKS section of this web site.

Q: When will my child become proficient in the language he/she is studying?

A: Becoming fluent in a foreign language is NOT an overnight process and it will take some time, patience and work.
Just to give you an idea, after two years of a foreign language study a student should be able to know the basics for conversation in a variety of situations, such as ordering food at a restaurant, asking for directions, purchasing items at a store, etc. You can check the Standards for foreign language studies on this web page as well as the ACTFL National Standards.

Q: If my school is not planning a trip overseas, should I think about sending my child to the country to improve his/her language skills? How do I do that?

A: There is nothing better than being immersed in the culture of the country where the foreign language is spoken – it is a unique and probably one of the best ways to learn the foreign language. Traveling as a family abroad or sending your child to a summer language camp could both be beneficial ways to improve language skills. There are however other possibilities to “travel” and “experience” the language and culture of the foreign language without having to leave the U.S. Inquire about events in your communities, international festivals, restaurants, foreign books, movies, international music, museum exhibits, language clubs, hosting a foreign student over the summer, etc.

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Internet Safety

The Internet can be a great resource for your child. It can be used for research, communication with teachers and other children, interactive games etc. By being able to punch in a few letters on the keyboard, your child can literally access the World Wide Web. That access can, however, pose hazards and this section offers links and important resources on internet safety.

Find out about the New York State Law on Internet Safety and what the Technology Standards are for your child in school.


These two links provide clear explanations and tips on how to be on guard against Internet fraud as well as securing your computer and protecting your personal information.

For more information, free booklets on ways to help create cyber-savvy teens and parents can be found at Nancy Willard’s site. Another location for free newsletters with pertinent information.

Doug Fodeman and Marje Monroe also wrote an easy-to-read book called Safe Practices for Life Online that you can order from ISTE.



  • Passwords: use a mix of letters, numbers and symbols. Try also to use upper and lower case letters.
  • Six or more characters are better passwords.
  • Usernames should not include any personal information.
  • Don’t click on banner ads or pop-up ads. This could lead to spyware.


Here is a web site where you can get familiar with the definition of Cyberbullying with great professional resources. Cyberbullying can happen a number of ways including:

  • E-mails
  • Instant Messaging
  • Web Pages and Social Networking (e.g. My Space)
  • Text Messages

In the event you feel you child may be a victim of cyberbullying, do not wait; go and talk to a school administrator, teacher etc. who might be able to help and address the problem with your help.


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New York State Association of Fo

New York State Association of Foreign Language Teachers, Inc. (NYSAFLT)
2400 Main Street
Buffalo, New York  14214