The following is an open letter to the Lake Oswego School Board:

I am hereby writing this letter in support of the Lake Oswego language immersion program. As a proud parent of Marcel, who is enrolled in the Lake Grove Spanish Immersion class with Mrs. Vasquez, my wife and I are looking forward to another year of Spanish.

Our son has grown immensely thanks to his teacher's superb skills as a bilingual instructor.

Children have a unique ability to learn more languages. We should embrace this opportunity by offering multiple languages in Lake Oswego. Marcel, for example, is learning his fourth language. Not only can I talk to him in Spanish and have him understand what I am saying, but his Spanish allows him to meet and greet people around the community who also speak Spanish. This is enriching because it exposes him to greater cultural diversity which is often missing in Lake Oswego. Marcel is being raised at home with two other foreign languages besides English, which he learned in school.

Marcel's growth compels me to support your Spanish program for the following reasons. The Lake Oswego district cannot afford not having a language program. Lake Oswego needs to stay competitive with other districts as families will look elsewhere for schools offering other programs not currently offered, such as charter schools or the International Baccalaureate (IB) program as do Tigard, Beaverton, and Tualatin.

Lake Oswego is currently attracting kids from other districts because of this program. This helps strengthen the reputation of Lake Oswego schools which in turn increases the desirability of living here. We should continue to offer alternative programs in our schools and not eliminate this precious language program. By doing so more parents will want to send their kids to the Lake Oswego district, thereby reducing the chances of attrition and increasing the Lake Oswego image of offering more than just a curriculum in English.

It goes without saying how much impact learning a second language can have on a child's education. For Marcel, who can go to France, Poland, Spain, any Latin country and speak in the native language, this means immense opportunity for his future. As a 6 year old he is already on his way to being a global citizen. As a nation we are better off teaching kids more than one language (in Western Europe all kids start with English in elementary schools and on to three to four languages thereafter). I can attest to this as my brother lives in Germany, my sister lives in France, and I went through the Dutch school system.

We are the only nation in the developed world that underemphasizes languages. We have insulated ourselves enough from the rest of the world. Why stop now that Lake Oswego is well under way to having a superb preschool to sixth grade language program.

Hans Stenfert Kroese is a resident of Lake Oswego.

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