As an international student, when I first came to the United States, I was devastated to find out that I had to take a foreign language. I only knew how to speak my mother language, and I was already struggling enough with English. The matter got worse when I found out that the syllabus only included French, Spanish and Chinese – and I felt like Chinese was just thrown in as a way to seem diverse. Hmmm so it had nothing to do with the International program that recruits in China?
Research shows there is not much diversity as European languages dominate American schools’ language curriculums; there are no widely spoken and historically significant languages such as Arabic, Hindi or Tagalog – just German, Latin, French, Spanish and Chinese. In a country like the U.S., where various languages and cultures meet together, it is essential to incorporate more languages into the curriculum so that students can feel more represented and feel more motivated to learn a language they are required to take for at least two years during high school.
Moving to the U.S. from Brazil, sophomore Bella Nascimento does not struggle to understand Spanish as it is very similar to Portuguese. However, she agrees that including diverse languages would only be beneficial. “Students will be more successful in their language classes if they already speak that language or are interested in learning it,” she said.
Sophomore Sarah Kanji, whose primary language is Urdu, thought the same as Nascimento; although her case differed as she had no language options similar to her original one. “Most of the time, I feel unmotivated to practice and learn the languages taught at schools because I cannot connect to them,” Kanji said. “With the world becoming more diverse, it is important to have the option to learn more than just Spanish, French and Chinese.”
American schools need to incorporate more languages into the language curriculum. To learn and speak a language is not just knowing how to speak it but also to understand the people’s way of thinking. The more we diversify the education system, the more open-minded we can become and the better we can communicate with one another.