Requiring all public school students to learn a second language is becoming an increasingly popular idea among those in the academic and business fields. Learning another language has been shown to be an important aspect in educating young minds yet is not a mandatory course…
Of course students need to know these subjects, if for no other reason than it makes them a well-rounded thinker. However, a better case can be made that teaching them a different language is even more important to their cognitive capacity and their ability to find employment in today’s global economy.
Enrollment in foreign language studies today is at its highest level since 1968. Parents and students are realizing the importance of communicating with both allies and adversaries, to interact with them on their terms, not just our own. People in foreign countries appreciate being spoken to in their naïve language, at least an attempt to and resent the arrogance of some Americans who expect them to speak English. More than half of Europeans speak at least two languages fluently but less than 20 percent of Americans. Until just recently, enrollment in foreign languages classes had been dropping dramatically in public schools reaching a low point in 2008 when only 25 percent of students were taking a foreign language class, only 15 percent of students in rural areas. Only about half of colleges require foreign language credits to graduate, down from two-thirds just a decade previous. This foreign language discrepancy should be concerning. The U.S. needs diplomats, entrepreneurs, business leaders, physicians, technicians, intelligence and military officials, politicians, historians, scientists, artists, managers and writers who can effectively communicate in other languages. Foreign policy experts, vital to the nation’s security, will always be needed and must be able to speak in a variety of languages particularly Farsi (Iran), Mandarin (China) and Arabic, Russian, Bengali (India) among others in emerging economic and military nations. The National Defense Education Act was passed during the height of the Cold war following the launch of Sputnik, the world’s first satellite, by the Russians in 1957. The Act provided federal funds to public schools ...
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