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Letters to the Editor

Americans need foreign language education, too

“Re: “Spanish as a second nature,” by Josh Corban, Sept. 5.

I could not agree more with Josh Corban. Coming from a European family, I have never understood why Americans are so undereducated in languages – even English. This country supposedly has the world’s best education system, but most students can barely speak English, much less a second language. Why is that?

Having been raised in the United States, I feel cheated that I was never given the opportunity to learn a language (other than the two I speak) in school, starting as a young child. My mother could not afford to enroll me in private language classes, but even if she could have, few or none existed when I was in elementary school more than 20 years ago.

The requirements for language in high schools and universities are ridiculous. Very few people are able to gain any sort of fluency in a two-year span. I’m saddened that even many doctoral programs no longer require knowledge of a foreign language – not even at an “intermediate” level.

It doesn’t matter that English is the “international language” and much of the world can speak it. When one travels, one cannot truly be immersed in the many cultures of this world without some working knowledge of the languages.

American knowledge of a foreign language would also help eliminate the unfair fear of anything non-American, as well as help this country at an international level in every aspect of life, including government.

This country is becoming more bilingual every day, but not as a result of education, though more options are now offered in certain parts of the country. I hope that in the near future, Americans who speak only one language will be the minority. Though I hope this occurs through education, not just immigration.

Katja Wolski is a doctoral candidate in medical sciences.