PHOTO: Spanish is one of many World Language options Davis High offers. (CC Image courtesy of ktschram on Flickr)
By Jaspreet Baath & Saebean Yi,
For high school students aiming to continue their education at the level of a University of California (UC) or California State University (CSU), they must take a minimum of two years of the same world language.
Learning a new language is not a waste of time. A two-year chunk out of a student’s four-year career at the high school is an ample amount of time for the student to experiment with his or her new tongue. At the same time, it allows the student to drop out if they lack interest in the language.
The study of foreign languages also provides numerous cognitive benefits. According to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), “language learning correlates with higher academic achievement on standardized test measures.”
The ACTFL also notes that bilingualism is widely correlated with enhancing memory skills, attentional control and problem solving.
In fact, the Education Resources Information Center supports that of the 17,451 students applying for college admission between 1981 and 1985, students who took a foreign language often scored higher on the ACT English and mathematics components than those who didn’t.
Those who take interest in their language and move on the higher levels of language are often able to hold basic conversations and read foreign text.
A second language is especially useful in the workforce, where it can provide a competitive edge when applying for a job.
Additionally, world language courses also teach the culture and history of the country the language is associated with. Learning about a variety of cultures allows students to perceive the world and its history from different perspectives.
As such, knowledge of different cultures and history can have major sociological benefits, especially in a country like the United States, where people are of multitudinous ethnicities.
Whether students decide to go to UCs or not, they should still take one of the many world language courses offered at Davis High.
Currently, Davis High offers Spanish, French, Chinese (Mandarin), Japanese and German.
While planning for courses, high school students might have been surprised that in order to be eligible for a UCs or CSUs, they are required to take two years of a world language.
However, this requirement should be changed, since it is time that is wasted on an incomplete subject and could be better spent on other subjects.
The requirement for a world language is enforced primarily due to it making students adapt to a different learning skill, as well as being a tool that they can refer to later in life.
However, simply taking two years of a course such as Spanish, Chinese or French does not teach students enough to where they are able to become fluent. According to the NIDCD, it takes 4-5 years for a student to truly master a second language.
In addition, according to the Pew Research Center, only 25 percent of adults have said that learning a foreign language in high school has helped them in their later life. Students who simply take the two years at school will most likely not retain the skill and will not be able to utilize it at all.
Further, if a student was somehow embroiled in a situation where a second language could come in handy, he or she would be better off trying to use a translating app, rather than trying to refer to their high school days.
Additionally, the space saved on a students schedule can be used on other classes that are far more beneficiary, such as auto shop or a career tech class. These classes teach valuable skills that apply to everyone since most students will one day operate a car or computer.
Skills learned from these classes apply to more students and will be far more helpful down the road than a world language.