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Should all students learn a foreign language before graduation? Should all students learn a foreign language before graduation?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I think that all students should have exposure to a foreign language, if for no other reason than the fact that they will better understand their own language.  Students have a better grasp on grammar after they have experienced another language’s grammar, and an appreciation for the way language is used.

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megan-bright eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I don't think it should be required. Learning a foreign language would definitely need to somehow be beneficial to the student in terms of getting a job in the future, communicating, traveling, or just being successful in life. If a student doesn't see an immediate benefit it will be hard to convince them that learing the language is worthwhile.

There are so many languages, and one student may be interested in French, while another Swahili or say, Afrikaans, so how will it be determined what language they must learn. Will all students be forced to learn the same language?

I took 3 years of Spanish in High school, and was voted Most Outstanding Student in Spanish, but of course that was so long ago, I don't know much of any Spanish now and never learned to "speak" it. Back then in my school we learned vocabulary, spelling, pronounciation, grammar rules, and conjugating verbs but not how to speak the language in an informal conversational tone.

I then took a year of French. In college, I also took French as taking a foreign language was required for graduation. I would have liked to have taken Swahili or Chinese, but the predominant choices are usually French and Spanish. If learning a foreign language is to be a requirement for High school students, students need more languages to choose from.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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This is, of course, a matter of opinion.  My own opinion is that this would be helpful to students, but I do not think that it is worthwhile unless students are taught long enough to truly become competent in the language.  Otherwise, their foreign language training is relatively pointless.

For example, I learned the foreign language I am best at by immersion starting when I was 7.  27 years after leaving the island where it was spoken, I can still speak pretty fluently.  This made it much easier for me to learn other foreign languages (I believe).

I took two years of Japanese in high school.  This was much less useful except for the fact that I then continued to learn the language in college.  After a long break, I have returned to learning the langauge in the last 6 years or so but I am by no means fluent.  My point is that the 2 years of high school Japanese did not really do much for me.  They gave me the very basics of the language, but not much more.  If that was all I had taken (and many schools do not require more than this), it would have been pointless and I would have forgotten everything the way that so many people forget their high school Spanish.

So, language learning is great, but I think it needs to be much more than having 2 years in high school if it is to be worthwhile.

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bullgatortail eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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One of my biggest regrets is not having taken more than one year of French in high school. I think it is of great importance that all students learn a second language; many European nations require their students to learn two foreign languages prior to graduation. There are many good reasons to do so. For one, you will learn not only about the language of another country, but its social and cultural importance as well. Such knowledge will provide students with a greater tolerance and understanding of a different culture. Equally important, a graduate's job market--and the salary to be made--expands greatly with the ability to speak bilingually.

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lsb14 | Student

Foreign Languages Are Good for the Soul!

Learning and acquiring a new language opens doors to possibilities and experiences that one may not have the chance to experience as a monolingual. Imagine the benefits that come along with it...

  1. increased brain power and multi-tasked development
  2. ability to communicate and understand a wider range of people, music, texts
  3. your initial language improves 
  4. you grow an appreciation and liking towards the target language culture
atyourservice | Student

If a student doesn't see any reason to do it, I don't think they should be forced. But it will be really helpful to learn another language plus it's fun. I love it when i hear people speak spanish and I am able to tell specific words apart.

crystaltu001 | Student

I think all students should at least take a language class for a year or two before graduation because it is good for them to know a little bit of another language other than the ones they already speak. For people  who learn another foreign language it can be good for them in the future when they get a job because jobs tend to hire people who can speak many languages.

taangerine | Student

Students should learn how a foreign language at school because it helps students learn about the culture and content from another country. Giving students the insight of something outside of their comfort zone might help them later on as they might travel abroad. Furthermore, it also give those students and opportunity to communicate with others in their career field in the given language. Moreover, there are more open doors and opportunities in careers when one can effectively communicate in another language. 

jess1999 | Student

It is definitely useful to learn a second language . For example , I have visited Korea , Taiwan , and China before since I have relatives there and they're all required to learn English at school . Since they are required to learn English they would know how to speak two languages themselves which will give them better opportunities compared  to people who only know one .

udonbutterfly | Student

Yes, you should definitely learn a foreign language befire gradutating ot only will it look good on resume but you'll have a better chance at finding job opportunities. Also the more you know the less miscommunication will be a problem. I find it interesting how we, America, is probably the only country that doesn't enforce or encourage really learning a second language. However I guess it's because we have everything here (amusement parks, country sides, history, the old and new, almost every culture has an influence in some neighborhood) we don't need to travel as much as other people from other countries do.

mchandrea | Student

Learning a foreign language is a great thing! I think students should not be required, but rather be given the option to take up a foreign language.  Learning the language, the alphabet, the grammar rules, etc. based on the books and a teacher is great but without practice, it would not be retained in the mind and will soon be forgotten. Learn a language, and use it. It is gonna be helpful when you travel. Also, with globalization, any additional language you know can give you an edge.  

zumba96 | Student

I think they should because it could help and impact them later in life. I took Spanish in 8th grade and finished Spanish 3 in 10th grade. It was a great experience and also we are required to learn one in high school but it was so much fun and worth it. Now I can understand Spanish and watch Univision and not only is it cool to learn a new language but you can be bilingual and travel places with understanding the native language and not worry about a translator. 

arrellbelle | Student

I believe all students should learn a foreign language because it helps for other people to communicate with each other and helps for the preservation of the desired languages. It's incredibly sad when a language dies out because a future generation no longer wants to learn it because English is being used. However, we have to keep in mind, the foreign languages represent a culture and behind every culture are their traditions. 

jamcclelland | Student

Absolutely.  The world is getting smaller and smaller with the technology available to our society.  I was not required to study a foreign language and I regret it everyday.  I am actually embarrassed at times that we as Americans rely on other cultures to learn our language.  In order to be a productive citizen in our technologically advanced society, one should expand their knowledge of other cultures and that includes the language.