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Seattle area public schools are much maligned these days as they try to do more things for a more varied student body with less funding than they need.

It was a treat to read Sarah Stuteville’s column about the Vietnamese language immersion program [“Vietnamese taught at school with community in mind,” Local News, Jan. 29]. Brain science has shown that children can learn two or even three languages easily up until about the ages of 10 or 12, at which point some learning port closes and second language acquisition becomes much more difficult and unnatural for most people. And when do our schools traditionally begin to teach languages? High school.

Anyone who has been to Western Europe has to have wondered why so many Europeans are conversant in two or three languages. Much of the answer is that they are taught at least one other language in elementary school. As the world around us changes from an American-dominated economy, it would serve us well to have our children grow up fluent in other languages so we can do business with other nations in their languages.

Jeff Stonehill, Seattle