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updated: 1/20/2014 11:11 PM

Non-English classes 'foreign' rather than 'worldly' in Dist. 303

Board members approve change to call them 'foreign' like they once were

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Some St. Charles school board members aren't interested in being politically correct when it comes to describing non-English languages taught in their schools.

Board members were set to approve various language course offerings at its January meeting when board member Judith McConnell took offense to the classification of languages such as Spanish and French as "world language course offerings."

"If you live in America, and you take German or French or Spanish or Japanese, you are studying a foreign language," McConnell said, according to a recording of the meeting. "It's not a negative because calling (a language) 'world' doesn't change that. It's political correctness run amok. There is no world language."

Board members Ed McNally, Kathy Hewell and Steven Spurling said they shared similar thoughts in joining with McConnell in a vote to formally change the name of the program to "foreign language."

"I think 'foreign language' is more descriptive of what it is," McNally said. "It's different than the norm."

The rest of the board disagreed. Corinne Pierog said there's a chance the term "foreign" might carry a stigma.

"'Foreign' may seem strange or unusual," Pierog said. "Using 'world' is simply, to me, a new, contemporary and inclusive term rather than saying 'foreign' or 'unusual.'"

Board members Jim Gaffney and Nick Mannheim joined Pierog in her dissent, but the three could not prevent the switch back to "foreign."

Superintendent Don Schlomann said the issue was mainly semantics.

He said there was a move away from the term "foreign" starting in the 1980s. The popular term at that time became "global." More recently, the term evolved into "world" languages, he said.

"I think most parents and teachers and staff members still call it 'foreign language,'" Schlomann said. "This is not something I'm going to fight the board on."

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