The News

President's Letter March 2013

Hello NHAWLT Members,

I hope that all of you will consider participating in our annual poster contest with your students. This year’s theme holds deep personal meaning for me: “World Languages: A Path to Peace.”

While starry-eyed at first glimpse, increasingly international issues coming before our governments render the theme of this year’s poster contest apropos. 

When I begin my school year with my lower-level Spanish students, I always tell them how important I think learning another language is and can be. I tell them that I believe, and I sincerely do, that learning another language is the first step toward world peace.

“How?’ they ask.

And I respond with this cause and effect argument. If I learn the language of another culture, I may then ask people in that culture about their customs and beliefs. Even if I don’t agree with the customs and beliefs, I can better understand them. Likewise I can explain to others the customs and beliefs of my culture to those in other cultures.

Hopefully my explanations will help people in other cultures learn to understand why we do what we do here in the United States. When I speak with others in my culture, I can better share and represent the ideas from the cultures about which I have learned, thus spreading tolerance among those in my life. Perhaps those in my life will share what I have learned. There is even hope that those who have learned from me about our culture will do the same with their friends and family.

If enough people learn enough about other cultures, and about the human side of them, how can we fail to work toward compromise? All of this starts with understanding, and true understanding begins by speaking to a person in his or her own native tongue.

What we do is so important to our future, which is why I have been spending a lot of time at the Department of Education this year. Currently there is a committee working on ED306, the definition of an “adequate” education in our state. Every eight years, the definition of an adequate education is reviewed and revised. Members of the committee all agree that an adequate education includes World Language, and that each high school must offer World Language in order to meet adequacy standards.

After speaking with many of you at the NHAWLT Conference in November, I am paying close attention to the word “offer”. Is providing a set time period for students to work on an online course in World Languages “offering” it? While I think that the majority of us agree that some flexibility is essential to a meaningful education, should schools be permitted to only offer on line options for World Language as a cost cutting measure? Several of you say no. I am asking those to share stories from your own school or district that you think would illustrate the pitfalls of providing World Language as an “on line only” option. Our next meeting is March 7th. Please send your stories to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , and I will be sure that the word gets out.

Thank you for everything you do for our students!

Sincerely,

Ursula Askins-Huber

NHAWLT president

Additional information