Why take four years of a world language?

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Emily Tomkinson

"A language can't hurt you; it will only enhance your life and open doors," said Mrs. Julie Conroy, who is pictured here helping a student.

Like many other high schools, Central requires three years of a world language as a graduation requirement. Because of this, many students choose to drop their language during their senior year without thinking about what they are missing out on.

“You don’t realize the opportunities a language can give you until maybe it’s too late and you’ve already dropped it,”  said Mrs. Jennifer Cummings, French teacher.

Dropping a language in high school can close doors to numerous opportunities in the future such as studying, living, or working in a different country. Although this doesn’t seem desirable to some students, after sitting through numerous college students talk about their ‘unforgettable’ experience studying abroad that they ‘wouldn’t trade for anything’ during college tours, I would hate to not at least have the option to study somewhere outside of my usual surroundings.

There are many programs at universities that don’t require you to know the language of the country you are studying in, but for me knowing the language of the country seems to be a huge advantage and above anything else: a chance to make friends who live a completely different life than myself.

“When I was studying in Mexico, I was going out with new friends all the time; some person taught me how to ride a motorcycle, and it was like ‘I can’t believe I’m getting credit for this’,” said Mrs. Rebecca O’Connor, a Spanish teacher.

I understand that some students who are reading this are taking a language course for a different reason. At some colleges you can be exempt from your required language credit by testing out using your four years of (free) language courses in high school, rather than paying to take languages classes during college.

Taking four years of a language can also make minors easier to obtain. Like I said earlier, learning a language all throughout high school helps you to test out of classes, allowing you to skip the basic classes needed to get a minor. The minor you get can be extremely useful while looking for a job after college since it makes you a more desirable employee who can converse with colleagues in a different country.

“[Learning a language] is important because it’s useful in business and can help you get a job later in life,” said Colin Parker, senior, who is currently taking his fourth year of Spanish.

Many students find a study hall to be more appealing than taking another class and adding to their hectic schedule. This is very understandable, personally knowing the intense course load of AP classes, especially at Central, can be very overwhelming—especially if you’re like me and chose to save most of your APs for senior year. When the school you want to go to doesn’t require more than three years of a language in high school and you don’t plan to study/work outside of the U.S., it becomes more practical to choose the extra period to take a study hall.

“Since I had a tough schedule this year, I needed a study hall and realized that I only needed three years for the business school I want to go to,” said Arthur Dussias, senior. 

For Mrs. Julie Conroy, Spanish teacher, the benefits of learning a language heavily outweigh an easier senior year in the long run.

“Having an easy senior year, down the road, it’s like ‘who cares.’ Nobody remembers their senior  year [course load],” Mrs. Conroy said.

For underclassmen thinking about what their schedule is going to look like over the next few years, consider the benefits that knowledge of a language brings before planning for only three years of a world language.