Forcing students to take a foreign language is a waste of time for the vast majority of students and schools.
The main issue is how long it takes to actually learn a language. According to the FSI, the US Foreign Service Institute, it takes about 1200 hours to obtain professional proficiency in the easiest of languages. If you average seven hours a week, five hours of class time and two of studying or doing homework, it would take you over 170 weeks to learn that language. Just during the school year it would take almost five years to master the language, not taking into account the time used to review the previous material each year. As most colleges only require two years of a foreign language, it is not beneficial enough to a student to take two years of a language. They will not achieve full proficiency and are very likely to forget what they learned quickly.
A study done by the Center for Applied Linguistics found that less than one percent of Americans can still speak a foreign language they learned in school by the time they are adults. One percent. The current system only helps one percent of students, but wastes over five hours a week for two years. This time could be used for a different and much more beneficial cause. Students could take a class that will benefit them later in life, like classes about money management, how to apply for jobs and loans, or politics, and how to find candidates that represent the students and their viewpoints.
The NAEP found that over 25% of 12th grade students were ranked below basic in reading scores. Students should be proficient in their native tongue before they have to take other languages to try to get into a better college. Schools should be more focused on having students master, a language that they are more likely going to use later in their careers.
Students who are proficient in English could spend the time doing something else that makes them more marketable to the workforce and make themselves better suited for the real world. Schools could add a financial class that teaches students how to save for college or retirement. They could also learn how to apply for a loan or mortgage, both things they will need later in life. Schools should focus more on subjects and skills students will use in the real world, rather than something very few students will use.
Schools cannot be made to serve the 1% of students that master their language, but rather the 99% that could gain more from other classes.
Article by Ryan Bicocca
Carden, Art. “Should Schools Require Foreign Languages? Doubtful.” Forbes, 22 May 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/artcarden/2018/05/22/should-schools-require-foreign-languages-doubtful/#51bb920d2303. Accessed 9 Nov. 2018.
“The Condition of Education.” NCES, National Center for Education Sciences, may 2018, nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cnb.asp. Accessed 9 Nov. 2018.
Friedman, Amelia. “America’s Lacking Language Skills.” The Atlantic, 10 May 2015, www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/05/filling-americas-language-education-potholes/392876/. Accessed 9 Nov. 2018.