¿Por qué?

Sitting in Señora Sandberg’s classroom while learning about how to conjugate the word “ser” in the present progressive form, my mind wandered to that night’s journalism homework, and I thought of all the things I would have to write for the next day. But suddenly I realized that, unlike my organic chemistry and trigonometry (sorry Mr. VonEhr and Mrs. Whalen), journalism was something I was looking forward to doing that night. Journalism was something I could be interested in doing for the rest of my high school career. Unfortunately, I and many others may not get the chance to pursue more “leisurely” goals.

With the rule for the class of 2016 and beyond, two years of a language stand in the way of many who have fallen in love with other electives. Those precious slots could be filled with things like Woodshop, Art, FX, Yearbook, and enough combinations to fill this page of the paper. These classes, unlike some others we are required to take, engage students and tap into passions that aren’t usually formed at a desk in a core classroom.

For some, this rule isn’t really a big deal. Students tuned in to what looks good on a resume are most likely taking another language into account anyway. But I don’t exactly think it needs to be a requirement for graduating high school. As sad as it sounds, our country is kind of its own little bubble. We don’t come into contact with many other languages besides our own unless we purposely make it a goal to, meaning that for most, foreign language is just another piece of homework to put in your backpack.

In fact, I know that for some people, languages can be the most stressful part of the day. People with poor and/or short term memories can find it particularly stressful to throw another set of grammar, conjugation, and vocab on top of things we still learn this day. Imagine how it must be for kids who struggle just learning English! And now we’re requiring another set of rules on top of that? Not only is it stressful for these people, it’s also slightly unfair.

This isn’t to say that languages can’t be exciting for some people. We have AP Spanish and French for a reason, and the teachers instructing us didn’t become experts in the language just because they had to. There is obviously some passion there, and they are hired because they are good at sharing this passion with others. Many do pick up a language and end up falling in love with it, so it is definitely good for some people.

The thing I’m saying is that for every student in an AP language course, there are hundreds who aren’t, hundreds who probably want to be doing something else with their time than filling one more requirement. A second language should be something you enjoy, not something that makes you want to tear out your hair at one o’clock in the morning. In terms of the rule in general, I see the merit in terms of being more worldly, but for many the cons far outweigh the pros.