Why Language Is Important To A Liberal Arts Education
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Politics and Activism

Why Language Is Important To A Liberal Arts Education

When taking foreign language classes, you are not only learning how to speak the language but also learning about the culture.

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Why Language Is Important To A Liberal Arts Education

Recently, I have been informed that my liberal arts college has proposed that we get rid of a foreign language requirement for all students, and they want opinions. Well, quite frankly, I am not happy about it. Maybe I'm biased, being a Spanish major and all, and correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the point of being a liberal arts college to give students skills that they will need for lifelong learning? Is language not a skill that we need for lifelong learning?

The problem with getting rid of a foreign language requirement is that it is the beginning of what could eventually become a domino effect. If the foreign language requirement is taken out of our college curriculum, then what would stop the college from taking out another requirement? Maybe a history requirement, or intensive writing, maybe even a science requirement. An argument for getting rid of the language requirement could be, "The student is not interested in language, so why must they take it?"

Well, a student might be a business major, so why should they be required to take science? Or, my favorite, "It is not necessary for the student to study another language because it is not needed for their major." I'm sorry, what? Please enlighten me as to what career field would NOT benefit from knowing another language. Businesses majors should know a second language because they will be doing business with many different people, some of which will most likely not speak English.

Education majors should know a second language because not all children will just speak English, and there is a good chance that they will encounter parents who speak even less English than their children. Pre-Med students should definitely know a second language so that they can effectively communicate with their patients. The list literally goes on and on.

By getting rid of a foreign language requirement, you are essentially saying that the cultural aspect of a liberal arts education is unnecessary. When taking foreign language classes, you are not only learning how to speak the language but also learning about the culture. Any 101 class in language, which is what most non-native speakers will be taking, will incorporate culture into their course. At my college, we pride ourselves on being diverse and accepting of different cultures. But HOW can you pride yourself on being diverse and excepting if you are not even educated in at least ONE different culture. If you do not require a student to take a foreign language class, the chances of them taking ANY culture or language class outside of what their major requires are slim to none.

For me, it is just hard to justify priding ourselves on being a liberal arts college if you are okay with cutting out key components of what makes it liberal arts. Liberal arts schools enrich their students' minds with a variety of different things, rather than strictly following a rubric of courses that will train them for a specific career. In the long run, a liberal arts education will have better prepared the student for their job. Actually, employers look for people who have a broad range of knowledge with an appreciation of diversity. Once again, cutting language out of the curriculum makes the students less diverse. I do not see why foreign language is any less important to an education than science, math, history or English.

Each of these fields is essential to creating an education that will prepare a student for life outside of college. It actually is kind of a slap in the face to all the language majors and professors for the college to say, "Hey, we don't find your field of study important enough to incorporate into the 'well-rounded' education of the other students." So I am outraged, and I am flabbergasted ( a word I learned in English) and maybe the college should look at the statistics (thank you math) of how taking a language positively affects students. Maybe even look at the history of different cases where having known a second language would've created a different outcome in a situation, and then do some research or create an experiment (oh, hey science) on the positive effects of language on a student's brain. Basically, even the THOUGHT of getting rid of the language requirement is absurd, because if you do that, then you really don't stand for what a liberal arts education provides. Pero esa es solo mi opinión.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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