All Students Should Be Required To Study A Foreign Language

899 words - 4 pages

Educators historically have argued over the propriety of offering various academic courses. One recent yet continuing argument on American college campuses tends to put school against school, professor against professor, student against student, school against professor, professor against student and student against school. The issue is whether or not courses in a foreign language should be required to attain a Bachelor's degree. Some believe the idea is absurd, while others believe it is a progressive move toward 21st century education. Although some people believe the entire world should speak English, the reality is that all Americans should have some degree of formal education in a foreign language.Foreign language skills could have a positive impact on race relations in America. The number of minorities in America is rapidly increasing. In fact, "minority" groups will soon form a collective "majority" of the citizens in America. Considering the facts that many minority groups speak English as a second language and America has no official language, compulsory foreign language classes are viable options. Of course, opponents of mandatory foreign language courses will say that immigrants and naturalized citizens should learn and speak the "de facto" official language of the United States--English. It is a valid point, but misses the bigger picture. People who speak English as a second language are already bilingual, while American-born students typically are not. Language is the most fundamental aspect of a culture. Students who learn the not-so-foreign language of the predominant minority group in their region of the country will gain at least some insight into the different culture of their neighbors and perhaps have a better understanding of them at the personal level. If we take these bits of insight and understanding and couple them with compassion, fertile ground for multicultural harmony in America will be sown. While foreign language skills can improve domestic affairs, the same can be said of foreign affairs.Foreign language skills can be useful in promoting American foreign interests. In a global economy, doing business abroad is paramount, but language barriers can be a burden. Opponents of a foreign language requirement in education would argue that most foreign businessmen already speak English. Admittedly, most foreign competitors do speak English, but only out of necessity. They learned to speak English in an effort to better communicate with their American counterparts and take advantage of the money making potential of doing business in America. By learning to speak English, foreign businessmen are able to communicate effectively and put their counterparts at ease which allows negotiations to be resolved in a manner suitable to all parties. Accordingly, the...

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