CON: Colleges Should Not Require Foreign Language

Commentary by Anna Rymer, Staff Writer

While learning a foreign language can help provide students a well-rounded education, is it practical to begin learning a new language in college?

Currently, a majority of higher education institutions in the U.S. require students to take a certain amount of foreign language classes in order to graduate.

However, some wonder, is it time to do away with this requirement?

“Learning another language takes time and dedication; it’s hard, and if you don’t want to do it, you’re probably not going to. Therefore, students who aren’t interested, don’t see it as relevant, or aren’t good at it will probably view the required classes as a waste of time,” said a New York Times article.

Disinterest isn’t the only issue with required foreign language classes. Student loan debt is another major concern for students, with each year observing a steady increase in student debt.

“Currently, student loan debt at graduation is an estimated $31,100,” says Education Data Initiative.

Students shouldn’t have to pay for classes that they don’t plan on actively en- gaging in. At Ferrum, every student in the Boone Honors Program is required to take a foreign language through the 202 level. If the student begins at the 101 level, then that amounts to 12 credit hours.

The question is: If a student doesn’t plan on using a foreign language in their future, why should they waste time and rack up debt?

Not only is debt a key drawback, but so is the practicality of starting to learn a foreign language while in college.

at learning a second language up until the age of 18…But the study also showed that it is best to start by age 10 if you want to achieve the grammatical fluency of a native speaker,” says Scientific American.

Studies continually show that the most effective time to start learning a new language is during the brain’s developmental stages. By the time students reach typical college age (18-24) they are past the optimal language learning capacity.

If any of your parents took foreign language courses in college, ask them if they still remember the language. I know mine certainly don’t.

Learning a foreign language can provide many benefits and opportunities for students. But it’s not for everyone.

The facts speak for themselves. It’s time that college institutions seriously con- sider whether requiring foreign language courses is truly beneficial for the students, or if it’s just adding onto the ever-growing mountain of student loan debt.