Should South’s Students Travel Abroad?

By Alanna Fichtel

When you see a picture of the Eiffel Tower in your French textbook, do you picture yourself standing in front of it? Do you ever imagine what it would be like if your Spanish class was taught in Spain? Have you ever tasted an authentic Italian pastry?
Traveling abroad to experience the various languages we study would greatly enhance our education. As most language courses are taught based on a curriculum, teachers are rarely able to devote much time to studying culture. The name “foreign language” tends to accurately describe how students feel when studying it. By organizing a trip abroad, teachers could give their students a deeper understanding of the language and make students feel more attached to it.
A trip abroad would be very appealing to upperclassmen taking a language class because most have been taking that language since middle school. They have acquired enough knowledge to communicate when in that country, but would still greatly benefit from hearing native speakers. Most students only speak a foreign language for one period a day; being immersed in the language for an extended period of time would be a valuable new learning experience.
Some students have already traveled to Europe with their family or youth groups, but an organized school trip would be both an educationally and socially different experience. For students who have not traveled somewhere like France or Italy, a school trip abroad would be the opportunity of a lifetime.
Many nearby schools give students the opportunity to travel abroad. At New Hyde Park Memorial High School, trips are taken every other year to France, Spain, and Italy by upperclassmen who take those languages. At Floral Park Memorial High School, the trip is taken over February break and thus does not interfere with any major holiday or school days.
So why doesn’t our school offer trips abroad? According to Principal Ms. Susan Elliott, teachers could organize a trip. The trip would have to be approved by the School Board of Education, which is where it would likely face challenges. Another major issue is the cost. As with any school event, administration would not want to see any student not be able to participate because of monetary problems. To alleviate this concern, language classes participating in the trip could hold fundraisers to make the trip possible for more students. Organizing the trip and ensuring students’ international safety could also be difficult. However, companies exist that plan high school trips abroad and hire faculty as chaperones.
Although the process of organizing a trip abroad would be complex, the benefits of such a trip outweigh the challenges. Traveling to France, Spain, or any other country with peers would be a unique and memorable experience for any student.