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Letters: Look beyond the spin, German is universal

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opinion Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

"The world is flat." Or "Germany is our most powerful political ally."

One of the above statements is true, the other false. Obviously the first is incorrect, although many uninformed people believed this for centuries, and the second is a fact. The Park Rapids School administration is trying to convince us that an idea just as faulty as a flat world is true. The administration has said the district has decided to go with Spanish as the only foreign language option because "Spanish is a universal language." The administration also said that German isn't universal because it is only spoken in Germany.

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Please look beyond the spin. Spanish is definitely spoken by many people, but most of these people live in the U.S., Mexico, and South America. If your goal is to think, communicate, or do business globally, then German has the advantage. German is the second most commonly used language on the Internet, after English. It is one of the three official languages of the European Union along with English and French. It is the most widely spoken language in Europe. It is the third most popular foreign language taught worldwide and the second most popular in Europe and Japan, which has the second most powerful economy in the world and where 68 percent of students study German. Germany has the third strongest economy and is the number one export nation in the world. Germany is the global leader in green environmental technology. According to the 2000 census, German-Americans are the largest single heritage group in the U.S.

Macalester College states, "Knowledge of German is simply a must if Americans want to compete in the emerging Eastern European market." But perhaps all of these facts relate to issues too far away from our state? Not quite! "Germany is the fourth largest trading partner of the state of Minnesota." Minnesota has one of the highest percentages of citizens with German ancestry in the U.S.

Contemplate the idea that knowing only one language is like having windows on only one side of your home, and realize that we can't just have windows facing south. The world is not two-dimensional and we won't fall off the edge if we travel beyond our borders.

Please let our school board know your feelings on this issue before Monday.

Rusty Uscola, Park Rapids

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