The case for foreign language courses

(photo courtesy of AGAWAM Public Schools)

“To remain competitive in this century this country must focus on creating a globally competent work force.”

Clarissa Adams Fletcher, ACTFL‘s 2011 National Language Teacher of the Year, began her case for foreign language learning with clear reasoning.

While the United States is pushing the STEM initiative subjects, science, technology, engineering and math, foreign language courses have become a low priority. With states facing tight budgets, foreign language departments seem like easy places to make cuts because foreign language courses are still not considered “core subjects.”

Fletcher makes a point that we all need to consider. If we are going to “remain competitive in this century” we must have a “globally competent workforce.” This competence now requires a foreign language. The federal government has expressed a “growing demand for foreign language skills across the federal government.” Language courses involve reading, writing and speaking, but also about the cultures, customs and values of speakers critical for sound cross-cultural communication.

Business is now global. Technology makes the world smaller everyday and America is no longer the only land of opportunity. Let’s properly prepare today’s young generation for the future, so they are equip for success. This equipment consists not only of STEM subjects, but sound reading and writing skills, foreign language skills and a knowledge of other cultures.

Students who take foreign language courses not only learn the language, but learn about cultures other than our own. We must open our minds and ears to the rest of the world so that we can stay a global superpower. Our nation wants to stay on top, but with the growing international trade deficit, it is becoming more and more clear that our communication skills with our international cohorts is more crucial now than ever before.

I do not want to take away the importance of STEM subjects. These jobs are in high demand right now and will help American rebound, but to increase exports, we must be able to conduct international business.

Why not add foreign language study to this list of essential subjects?

Original article: Study a language, discover a world


2 Responses to “The case for foreign language courses”
  1. Yes! Foreign languages, at a minimum learning to pronounce and speak, courses should be core subject matter in schools, vocational adult education, and workforce training. We must approach this as an investment in the American worker. Programs like MyChinese360, now Futuredemics are innovating the future of language learning. Congratulations! Glad to see new languages your are adding; especially Spanish!

  2. aloisgray says:

    I totally agree. Kids need to start their foreign language education as early as possible. It does not need to interfere with STEM subjects. A little bit of practice at frequent intervals over a long period of time works wonders.

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