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Graduation Requirements: Spanish v. American Sign Language

When it comes to high school, there are certain requirements that must be completed in order to graduate: graduation requirements. In Maryland, one of the essential graduation requirements is the “completer program.” The student can choose to take any of these paths in completing their completer program: two years of foreign language, a career and technology program, passing Child Development 1, 2, and 3, passing Architectural Drawing 1 and 2, or doing work study with consumer education/personal finance. Most of these seem fairly simple to complete as the administration tries to create graduation requirements that everyone is able to do and therefore graduate high school, but lately it seems that many people have chosen to opt out of foreign language or just take sign language, but is that really the best choice?

Many of my friends attend a different school than I do, and their school offers American Sign Language, but ours does not. I have found that a majority of my friends have chosen to learn sign language, instead of Spanish, Latin, or French. This is something that fits under the completer program of foreign language, but something that the school fails to mention is that this class will not be recognized a foreign language in college. It is much more impressive to have a Spanish, French, Latin, German, Chinese, or any other language one’s school offers than sign language on one’s college transcript. Many colleges prefer that an applicant has taken a few years of a foreign language, and if not, it may ask that the applicant take a foreign language during their freshmen year of college, if they did not in high school. My friends at the other school fail to realize this. One of my friends signed up for Spanish but dropped the class after a few days because she found it to be hard. I’m not trying to be critical but Spanish I in Maryland is very simple; it is slow-paced, one only learns the present tense, hardly any verbs, and most of the vocabulary is English cognates. I do not understand how sign language could be any easier, because instead of remembering words, one now has to remember the movements, and there is only so many movements one can make with their hands alone, so many If these movements must be similar.

Foreign language is also useful in English class. When we learn new vocabulary, I notice prefixes and suffixes that match the Spanish translation of the word as well. This is helpful in learning and remembering the English vocabulary, and I always do very well on my vocabulary tests. I believe that taking a foreign language makes one smarter in this aspect of vocabulary, and will definitely help one on the SAT. If one is taking the SAT and doesn’t recognize a word but does recognize a prefix or suffix that is similar to something in Spanish then chances are it has close to the same meaning. Knowing a foreign language helps with one’s logic skills. Sign language can not really help one on the SAT because if one does take sign language, one is learning the sign for the English word. There is not going to be a sign on the SAT that can help one determine what a word will mean.

Knowing a foreign language is a very useful skill to have. It can help one in their job if a customer or client does not speak English well, it can help with one’s logic, and it can help one if he travels to a country and knows how to speak the language of that country. I do not believe American Sign Language should be considered part of the completer program because colleges do not recognize it and it can not really help with any skills, besides becoming an interpreter perhaps. A spoken foreign language and Latin are the only classes that should be allowed as completer programs.





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