Despite benefits, world language classes should not be required

Marissa Payne, Coppyeditor

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When eighth graders meet with their counselors for the first time to decide which classes to take their freshman year, it’s easy to feel like four years is an endless amount of time to fulfill graduation requirements. As students make their way through high school, however, they sometimes find themselves having to sacrifice classes they want to take because they must take so many other classes to graduate.

Most colleges suggest that prospective students take foreign language classes, so for some people, it would be beneficial for GCHS to require at least two years of a foreign language. But as long as students are aware of what colleges recommend, it’s better to maintain the current policy that allows students more freedom in planning schedules with no foreign language requirement.

Students don’t have to worry about world language courses being added to their lists of graduation requirements, though, because school officials are not the ones who decide on which classes students must take to graduate.

“The graduation requirements are set by the state and the Board of Education,” said guidance department chair Lori Mitchell. “Even if that’s something we wanted to do, it’s a long process to get [the requirements] through…we certainly encourage students to take it, but it’s just not [required].

World language teachers hope that students are able to find space for language classes in their schedules and discover their own passion for it as they learn the language throughout high school.”

“That’d be great to have [world language classes] required, but at the same time, knowing that students are in there for certain reasons kind of puts more motivation out there,” said world languages department chair Jenna DeFazio. “However, I think if students were required to take it and they were in the classes, they may find a connection to it.”

“If we were required to take a language, it definitely wouldn’t be hurtful for the people who don’t need it as a requirement for college,” said junior Karyn Vasquez. “Learning a language makes you more skilled and although some colleges don’t require it, it’s still nice to see on applications and especially when applying for a job.”

Although the teachers want all students to have the opportunity to see the benefits of learning another language, they understand that students have many other required classes and electives to fit into their schedules. For some students, electives like Band or PSP may be more of a priority than learning a language.

“While I believe in all the benefits of learning another language — more creativity, critical thinking skills, everything that you get with it — students do have a lot of requirements,” said DeFazio. “I don’t want to dictate what students would take.”

Students are already required to take a lot of classes to graduate, so it’s important for students to have some freedom to take classes they want.

“There are kids who would rather take fine arts, for example, and there are some colleges that would accept fine arts credits in place of a world language,” said Mitchell. “If you put too many requirements on kids, they’re not going to get any choice, and the whole point of electives is to get to pick what you want to do.”

Students must also be aware of the admissions requirements for colleges they’re interested in attending, and counselors should encourage students to keep those requirements in mind as students plan their schedules each year. However, some students feel as though counselors don’t do their best to ensure that students are thinking about graduation or college admissions requirements.

“I totally feel like our counselors don’t really educate us or make us aware of the requirements we need to fulfill early enough,” said Vasquez. “Being in Band, I know that my counselor sometimes tried to actually discourage me from taking Band. They definitely care more about the core classes like math and English than other things like Band or foreign language.”

Even if some students think counselors aren’t doing enough to make them aware of requirements, it’s a good idea for students to take at least a couple years of a language in case the college they plan to attend in the future requires it.

“If the student knows they want to go to a four-year school and isn’t really sure where, it’s probably to their advantage to go ahead and take a couple years of a language just so their bases are covered,” said Mitchell.

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Despite benefits, world language classes should not be required