Should languages be required in school?


With multiple languages being offered at North, it is a no brainer that most students are taking another language. With college just around the corner, most colleges want you to have at least two years of a language. It’s known that learning a language helps open up scholarship opportunities, job opportunities, and can greatly help with the knowledge of your own language, But should it be a required course to take in high school? Or should it stay as an elective course? Should you have to take at least one year or should four years be required? Why should you take a language or why shouldn’t you?
One of Fargo North’s Latin teachers, Kat Strand, said, “With our global climate there are so many cultural benefits to taking a language, then I think that languages enhance every aspect of your life.”
Requiring a language to be taken during high school isn’t possible for every student. Some people have a full schedule, while others don’t learn languages well in a classroom. Most of the language teachers would like languages to be required, but know that is not always a possibility.
Zelya, the spanish teacher here at North, said “ I would like languages to be required and I think it would be advantageous for students if they did take one”.
If languages were required to graduate high school, the curriculum would have to change so that it would be suitable for different learning types. Math and English offer various levels and structures to reach all abilities of learners, something that would likely be both valuable and necessary for a foreign language requirement. Volk expressed some concern about how the current structure might not be well suited for all students. “I think there would be value in learning a language, but they wouldn’t probably be best suited to be put in a typical level one-level two type of arrangement,” he said. Getting one hour a day of a language is not the best way to learn a language. Kat Strand talked about how there are a few problems with the learning a language in a classroom saying “ i always talk to students about how it’s an individual learning style, so some students flourish in the classroom and do really well learning languages but we know that there are so many other ways to learn languages”
The younger you are the easier it is to learn a new language. As your brain is still developing it is easier to learn a new language. There is a push in the schools right now for other languages being taught as early as kindergarten. Being able to speak more than one language has been shown to enhance problem solving skills, increase memory and enhance creative thinking. Learning a second language also can open up opportunities for college scholarships. Learning a language like Latin can be helpful if you plan on going into the medical field. Languages like Spanish, French and German can be useful to be able to speak to other people from around the world.
Volk stated that one of the pros to taking a language is, “It makes you more sensitive to other people coming in from other countries, not having English as their first language. You understand what it’s like to be in a position where you don’t understand a language well.”
Besides the fact that learning a new language opens you up to other cultures and helps you learn more about your own language, you also can receive a biliteracy award on your high school diploma. The seal of biliteracy is an award given to students who pass a test proving that they are fluent in another language outside of their native language.
The cons to taking a language in high school are very few. Many agree that the best way to learn a language is by immersion, but that isn’t really possible for people who live in places like Fargo, North Dakota. Another reason for taking a language is that it takes a lot of time and effort. Students can often find themselves in a position where they are too busy to be learning another language.
Being able to communicate is something that we don’t think about on a daily basis, but it is an important part of our lives. There are so many more pros and cons to learning a second language. Just like anything, trying a language class will be difficult, but have its benefits. If you want to try a new language it’s never too late to start.