Hola. Bonjour. Salve. Ni Hao. Hallo.
Our world is unified through language. It is an essential part of how we communicate throughout the world. Life would not be the same without it. Imagine a world devoid of communication and expression. In Ridgewood High School, students are offered the opportunity to learn a language with classes varying from Spanish, French, Latin, German, and Chinese. However, not all students seize this opportunity. With only a two year requirement in a foreign language, many students fulfill the bare minimum and move on before truly grasping the language. Does it matter? Is learning a foreign language important?
Even though English is known as the universal language, we should not neglect the languages of other countries. While traveling in Spain, it was apparent to me that the kids in Spain were a lot better at speaking English than the American students were at speaking Spanish. More focus should be placed on teaching foreign languages, and more students should be encouraged to keep foreign languages in their schedule. For many of the language classes at Ridgewood High School, advanced placement is offered as a final class in its curriculum. Classes such as Spanish, Latin, and French give students the chance to test their abilities on the AP exam and forego the requirement in college to take a foreign language class. Not only will this save students time by reducing the burden of balancing college class requirements, but it can also help when studying for standardized tests in high school. For example, vocabulary learned in foreign language classes can help with defining unknown words through cognates, which are the words that have the same meaning with similar spelling between languages.
Moreover, Ridgewood High School offers the AVANT Biliteracy Exam to commend students for achieving a level of fluency with a seal given by the state. According to Mr. Ferreri, the seal will potentially be put on transcripts in the future, which can add a significant achievement for those focused on impressing colleges.
In addition, learning a foreign language helps in the long run. Taking a foreign language in high school is significantly more beneficial than rushing through a language course in college because it allows students to learn more of the language with greater experience. Learning a topic in a short period of time can be easily forgotten, but something that is kept for four years during your high school career will not be forgotten easily.
It is not just school requirements, but your future job experience that can benefited. It has been found that being fluent or being able to speak at a business-proficient level will not only help in obtaining jobs but also help in getting a higher pay. Many employers provide more benefits to those who speak an additional language because it helps with business and allows for important international connections.
So, why aren’t more students sticking with foreign language? With the college application process becoming more and more competitive, students decide to pad their GPA with other academic courses rather than learn a language. But perhaps it’s best to stick to your language course. Who knows? It might change your life; whether it’s college or a future career, foreign languages have more benefits than you might know.
Graphic: Nicole Kye