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Letters: Supporting the German program in Park Rapids

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I am writing in support of the German program here at Park Rapids schools. The administration has recommended that the program be cut down to one class next year, and be eliminated the year after that. I believe cutting this program would be a great loss to our students and to our school district.

When I started high school here in Park Rapids, I signed up for German as a freshman. Four years later, I had a solid start in the knowledge of the language and culture of Germany and German-speaking countries. As a result of taking this foreign language, I also learned English grammar, something I never fully understood until I took German.

When I enrolled at Concordia in Moorhead, I tested out of a semester of college German, and later received a German education degree. I have traveled to Europe on several occasions, taught German in public schools and Concordia Language Villages, and have been enriched by many friendships of people from other cultures. I also had the privilege of chaperoning a trip to Germany led by Linda Uscola that provided an invaluable learning experience for the students.

I currently teach Language Arts and Social Studies at the sixth grade level. I know that my study of German makes me a better teacher in both of these subjects, particularly in the areas of grammar, sentence structure, linguistics, and world history.

We also study Minnesota history in the sixth grade, and learn that a large number of immigrants came to Minnesota from Europe after 1851. As a result, many people in our state have ancestors from countries where German is spoken as a native language. I was able to meet some extended family on one of my trips to Germany. None of them spoke English, so it was fortunate I had the ability to communicate with them.

It is also very important to note that German is the most widely spoken language in Europe, so the notion that Spanish is more a "universal" language is misguided. Also, many disciplines recommend a background in German study, including biology, physics, chemistry, linguistics, religious studies, and art history.

Please join with me in urging the administration and school board to keep German studies a part of our curriculum in our school district.

Karen Onstad, Sixth grade teacher, Park Rapids Schools

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