The following comments were written by Casey Miller, a fourteen-year-old freshman from California, who understands the benefits of learning a foreign language. (published in HuffingtonPost.com, January 5, 2012) I hope more students will appreciate her comments.
At my school, every student needs at least 240 credits to graduate. Typically, there are 10 credits received for each year of a class, or five credits per semester. In order to graduate at my school, a student needs at least two years, or 20 credits, of a world language. Usually, two to three years of a foreign language are also required for a four-year college education.
Some students I’ve spoken to at my school dislike this requirement, though most schools in the United States also make learning a foreign language necessary. Students say that learning another language, such as Spanish, German, French, or Mandarin, is pointless. They don’t think they will ever use any of these languages. Excuses include that they don’t travel, don’t have international friends or family, or never talk to foreign visitors.
I think that learning a foreign language can be more valuable than many students realize. Primarily, learning a second language provides countless opportunities. Qualities, such as being bilingual are assets colleges look for in their student applicants; and not only is being bilingual relevant for college submissions, but for one’s career later in life. Whether one becomes a CEO of a major manufacturing company or an elementary school teacher, knowing another language is beneficial.
Living in America places us in the middle of an ethnic melting pot, surrounded by the cultures and races of many countries. The Hispanic population in the United States has increased dramatically over the past decade. More people have been learning Spanish due to the necessity of communicating with their neighbor! This is also part of the reason students learn Mandarin, French, German, and other languages. The United States continues to have one of the highest immigration rates of any country in the world, and the ability to comprehend and communicate another language can be useful when it comes to communication day to day and in the work field.
Due to technology and ease of international travel, we are now living in global society. Whether one is speaking Spanish in Mexico or French in Canada, being multilingual opens up opportunities. These opportunities could lead to new friends and new experiences.
Currently, I am in the middle of my third year learning Spanish. Some students choose Spanish because it is popular, easy, and their friends are doing it. I chose Spanish because of its usefulness. Living in California gives me many opportunities to practice my Spanish. According to 2010 Census results, the Spanish population in the United States has increased 43 percent over the past decade. Clearly, I am able to use my crazy Spanish skills often.
High school is a great time to acquire a new language, because the brain is still developing and it’s completely cost-free in all public high schools. And with all of its uses later in life, why not learn a foreign language while you have the chance?