Con: Cómo se dice, waste of time?

Con: Cómo se dice, waste of time?

Photo illustration by Anastasiya Orel.

Taking a foreign language class for a minimum of two years in high school is a requirement in order to graduate. Students transitioning from high school to college get excited about the idea of choosing their majors and the coursework they can take. 

“Por que” (why in Spanish) would students need to take courses they have already taken in high school? “En quoi cela aiderait-il les étudiants,” which in French means, how would this help students? 

It wouldn’t. Students who decide on a major start crafting their schedule with classes that are designated to help them succeed in that major. 

Say a Biology student at Pierce was required to take a foreign language class for a total of five units instead of two courses related to the major for the same amount of units. The language class would be taking up time and effort for major-related courses to fill a requirement that the student most likely will not use after the class.

The Atlantic reported that roughly 93% of high schools in the United States offered language courses and yet less than 1% of American adults are versed in a foreign language that they had learned.

If so few people utilize the foreign language classes they took, then “למה לקחת את זה בכלל,” which in Hebrew means why take it at all? Learning a foreign language can be exceedingly difficult and may cause some students to get anxious. There’s even a name for it: Foreign Language Anxiety (FLA) or “xenoglossophobia,” the fear of speaking foreign languages. 

Many languages have been dropped as requirements because of difficulty, complexity and uncertainty. 

Inside Higher Ed reported that between the years 2013 and 2016, foreign language enrollments had dropped 9.2%. They had also reported only 7.5 foreign language enrollments per 100 students enrolled in American colleges in 2016. 

An argument that can be made for why taking a foreign language class is beneficial is that it exceeds competition for transfers and college applications, as well as careers. If proficiency in a foreign language demonstrates that a student is competitive, then which language is the most scouted? 

Figuring out which foreign languages would be a requirement for college coursework and graduation is another obstacle to overcome. 

Ed Tech Review reported that more than 75% of the world speaks English and is considered the official language of many countries. It also reported that Korean is spoken by more than 75 million people worldwide.

The English language was once considered a foreign language to many outside of the United States. If the case is that English is now predominantly used around the world, what does that say for other languages? 

Will languages circulate and drop like a trend? There is no use requiring foreign languages classes if the competition constantly changes.

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