Cost of public education in Germany
A| Language on the Move" title="Colorado International School | Language on the Move" width="270" height="179">American society places little value on meaningful multilingualism for young people, or for adults for that matter. Nowhere is this lack of valuation more apparent than in the U.S. public education, which, with few exceptions, fails to even begin to expose students to languages other than English until they are 12 years old.
This near total lack of foreign language teaching, even as a subject, much less in immersion, or semi-immersion form, means people who want to bring up their children multilingual in the U.S. must do nearly all of the work, and all of the economic investment, themselves.
I want our two daughters, who my wife and I are working to raise as German-English bilinguals using the one parent, one language approach, to have a formal multilingual education that includes acquiring strong reading and writing skills in both German and English. For us, here in the Denver, Colorado area, the only current full-time option for such an education for our children is a private, tuition-based language-immersion school, the Colorado International School (COIS).
America’s linguistic assimilation logic
The individual economic costs associated with language loss and monolingual ideology and monolingual public education don’t stop with the tuition we’re paying to COIS. They can be traced back to my own father’s decision after emigrating to the U.S. from Germany in the early 1960s to assimilate to English monolingualism and to raise the three children he had with my American mother as English monolinguals. Because my father did not pass on German to me, I had to learn it myself, and I did so mostly in college.
It’s probably not fair to list the entire $45, 000 cost of my college education as a cost of re-learning German and, more broadly, as a cost of American monolingual assimilation; I would have gone to college no matter what. However, since I did major in German in an effort to acquire something I could have received at home for free, part of that $45, 000 should be attributed to the cost of assimilative language ideology and subtractive language learning, let’s just say $20, 000.