School board members were told about increasing world language classes during Monday's school board session.
Hassane Jaafar lead the discussion about foreign languages being taught in the district.
Nine Edsel Ford students came to the microphone and introduced themselves in French, American Sign Language, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, German and Arabic all languages taught in the district, he said.
"When we speak about world languages, what we would like to see is moreexposure," Jaafar said.
For about the last five years, the U.S. State Department every year has sent a delegation to Edsel Ford to learn about the Arabic language and culture, he said.
Starting with the Class of 2016 — this year's freshmen — students will be required to have two years of foreign language to be able to graduate. Students can take the classes before high school as long as it is an
equivalent exposure, he said.
Dearborn has 2,634 elementary students studying a foreign language, mostly Arabic at Becker, Henry Ford, McCollough/Unis, McDonald, Miller, Salina Intermediate and William Ford schools.
However, only 519 middle school students take foreign language classes at Bryant, Lowrey, O.L. Smith, McCollough/Unis, Salina Intermediate and Woodworth, he said.
Dearborn needs to look into expanding language more into middle schools, especially as more elementary students who have already been studying a language arrive at those grades, Jaafar said. The middle schools used to offer more programs, but they were cut due to budget constraints. Now, the schools are looking at offering them as enrichment options, he said.
At the high school level, about 33 percent of students are taking a foreign language class, or 2,153 students, he said. That figure is expected to increase to about 55 percent in the next five years because of the new requirement.