Foreign Language Requirements in US High Schools

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All US students should be required to learn a foreign language by the time they graduate high school. Learning a foreign language has been proven very beneficial for many reasons. One benefit is improving SAT scores. In 1981, studies showed that the scores of students who had taken only two years of foreign language were on average 51 points higher in verbal and 54 points higher in math than those who had taken no foreign language. In the ever-expanding global business market, a foreign language can be found very useful and a great way to improve the quality of jobs you can get. A survey of Hispanics in Miami, Florida, verifies those who were bilingual earned an average of $7,000 more per year than those who were not. It is also thought that people who are bilingual are more likely to know and care about what happens around them and are more likely to take action. Learning a foreign language broadens a person’s perspective of the world.

Some people argue that before students learn a foreign language they need to improve on their native language, but learning a foreign language can greatly improve your native language skills. This is shown above in the verbal scores of the SAT for students who have taken only two years of foreign language. A second reason people give for not learning another language is that everyone else already knows English and that there is no reason to learn another language unless you are going to some poor third world country. This is not the case. Less than 25% of the world’s population speaks English. In other words, there are about 5,200,000,000 people who don’t! Still think the whole world knows English? This statement also represents the close-mindedness of a monolingual culture. Even if the whole world knew English, it would still be beneficial to learn another language.

Emily Jiggins, a 9th grade foreign language teacher, is all for foreign language requirements in US schools. After her public high school stopped requiring foreign language after 9th grade, her students quickly “decided that they are not going to work during my lesson because, and I quote, ‘I don’t have to do this stuff next year anyway.’” Emily Jiggins goes on to say that her students, “at the grand old age of fourteen, have categorically decided that there is no use whatsoever in learning languages as, of course, ‘everybody in the world speaks English’.” However as shown to you in the data above the whole world does not speak English. I have had my own experiences in middle school exploratories (classes, including foreign language, that are not required in high school). Classmates seemed to have declined behavior and limited motivation in these classes. I think students would make more of an effort if foreign language was required to graduate high school.

Foreign language should be required in US schools. Learning another language increases your knowledge and acceptance of other cultures. It will improve your SAT scores and allow you to get higher paying jobs. Making foreign language required will add motivation and incentive to the classroom.





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