Debate:Should students learn a foreign language?

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Would Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic be considered examples of foreign languages? Dpbsmith 19:40, 19 March 2007 (EDT)

No, I don't see a real point. I'd rather kids learn German, Arabic, Farsi, Mandarin, or some other useful language in school rather than Italian, Spanish and French. I'd also rather we start teaching kids foreign languages much earlier before English Language patterns are set.--Elamdri 19:45, 19 March 2007 (EDT)

Spanish can be useful down in South-West US, places such as Arizona or New Mexico, so I don't see the problem with it.. But French is such a commonly taught language in North America; how useful is it really? Anyways, I quite agree with what Elamdri states.--Blozrav

When I say useful, I mean languages that are more sought after in the business and government spheres. Yeah, Spanish can be helpful if you work at McDonalds in New Mexico, but other than that, your limited. German and especially Mandarin are the other two languages of big business besides English. Farsi and Arabic are important languages right now for anyone looking into careers in government, military, and espionage.--Elamdri 19:51, 19 March 2007 (EDT)
You do know that there are countries to the south of the United States right? You do know that these countries represent one of the largest trading blocks to the United States? Just wondering. --Raytrotter 20:09, 19 March 2007 (EDT)
They aren't going to be NEARLY as important in the near future as Southeast Asia is.--Elamdri 03:24, 20 March 2007 (EDT)
Having worked at a Burger King in New Mexico, I'm pretty sure it's not going to be all that useful. If you want to work at a decent restaurant here, though, Spanish might help. Or, you know, if you want to attempt to talk to the people who do the jobs you don't want to do, keep the American economy from collapse, etc. IMFromKathlene 01:18, 20 March 2007 (EDT)
I was being sarcastic. Of course Spanish is useful, but it is more of a region specific language. If you aren't doing business in the southwestern United States, then its practically pointless. Someone like me in the Midwest has no use for it. French and Italian are so pointless they aren't even worth mentioning.--Elamdri 03:24, 20 March 2007 (EDT)
Unless you plan on, say, doing business with people who speak those languages. We're a country of immigrants, so we're going to have quite a few people who aren't speaking English here. Additionally, the more international the world becomes the more useful-- moneywise as well as culturewise-- it will be to be able to communicate with people who don't speak English. Expecting everyone to learn our language just because we have a puffed up idea of ourselves is naive at best and xenophobic at worst. IMFromKathlene 03:31, 20 March 2007 (EDT)
Your mistaking what I say. For starters, most people learn those languages in high school. Now, how many high school students honestly know they want to do business with people that speak that language? Besides, for the most part, if your an immigrant to the United States, you pick up the basic English needed to survive or you have your children do it for you. With most immigrant families that I have come across, the native tongue dies out after the first generation, because the children simply learn the English and rarely speak the older language. It isn't a bad thing to expect everyone who lives IN the United States to learn English. And honestly, because it is the established lingua franca, I don't see much harm in asking people around the world to agree to an already established common language (unless your really into all that Revelations stuff). If we don't do it now, we might loose our chance if China surpasses us.--Elamdri 03:41, 20 March 2007 (EDT)
High school students don't know a lot of things about what they do with their lives-- that doesn't mean we should put off letting them choose between Statistics and Calculus until they decide what business they want to go into. I really wish they would've done more foreign language stuff when I was a little kid, though-- I might just be bitter/annoyed at myself that I still don't know Spanish despite having lived in New Mexico for almost 17 years. Oh, and one other thing-- I seriously doubt we're going to have a problem with people needing to learn Chinese. Chinese is terrifyingly difficult. Japanese, Arabic and Farsi, though-- we're going to need a lot more people speaking those really soon.
I dunno, what happens if China does become the economic juggernaut that some have predicted?--Elamdri 03:55, 20 March 2007 (EDT)

PS: Oh, and I have one other reason I want everyone to use Spanish: maybe English will come to its senses and pick up a second person pronoun other than "ya'll." Ustedes FTW.IMFromKathlene 03:53, 20 March 2007 (EDT)

English language tip: the correct spelling of the second-person pronoun in English is "y'all", not "ya'll". Go back to Mexico where you belong, Kathlene!! --Madonna 09:49, 3 April 2007 (EDT)

Ah, okay, I get what you mean. Thanks! --Blozrav

Generally speaking, yes. Being bilingual never hurts. People whose native language is English/American have a sort of choice since it's a very widely-used language. Everybody else should at least learn English as a second language. For the English-speaking people, I'd suggest French, German, or something like that, if just to appreciate how easy English is. ;) Overall, it depends on what you want to do, like Elamdri pointed out. But being able to communicate in a language other than your first one can be a true asset. --Sid 3050 20:04, 19 March 2007 (EDT)

In my opinion, being bilingual is just a boon really. There's always going to be SOMEONE who knows the language, so really, unless we come across some sort of shortage on translators, we really don't have a problem. Plus, English is pretty much the lingua franca these days. If you go almost anywhere worth going on this rock, you can probably get by just knowing English ("Getting by" in not really the best way to travel though, so its best to invest in some sort of guide if you can). I would however advise against French. Its rather case specific in it's use, and like Spanish, some English and Italian, it's Latin based, meaning that the words share common roots. This makes Spanish, French, and Italian somewhat easier to learn for English speaking students. Thus, people who speak these as a second language are more "dime a dozen." Non Latin based languages, especially the Asia and Middle Eastern languages, are much harder for English speaking students to learn. This means that people who aren't from those regions, who know those languages, are in higher demand. Also, jobs that tend to require those specific skills tend to be much more high profile careers.--Elamdri 03:33, 20 March 2007 (EDT)

Your best bets for a second langauge would be any language formerly used by a colonial power. Spanish, French, German, Portugese, and Dutch are languages that are spoken throughout the world. Some variant of Chinese or Japanese would be helpful too, but good luck learning Chinese languages.

In my experience, Spanish is very useful in business and German not at all. I even have several German clients (Deutsche Bank, Bayerische Hypo- und Veriensbank, Commerzbank, Dow Olefinverbund GmbH, and others, but (i) the people who work there disproportionately speak English and (ii) outside of Germany, Switzerland and Austria, virtually no one else does. While I have no clients based in Spanish speaking countries, the number of business opportunities that arise in Latin America are quite substantial. They have an abundance of natural resources and often need first-world help to exploit them. I *wish* I spoke Spanish (or Portuguese, for Brazil alone). --JesusSaves 03:34, 09 April 2007 (EDT)

Key word there being exploit.--Elamdri 12:02, 11 April 2007 (EDT)

In order to really understand another country or culture it is mandatory to speak its language.


Yes you should learn one other language then your own, it REALLY makes your mind work hard and raises the level of your understanding of many things. --Wally 20:08, 26 June 2007 (EDT)

I'm currently learning both Spanish (in which I'm pretty fluent) and Mandarin (which is way less difficult than some people say it is; no crazy verb tenses to worry about), and I definitely agree that knowing a second language is very important in today's world. The whole "everyone should speak English" idea is wildly outdated. If you compare English verb morphology and possessives to other languages, you see why. English, unless it's your first language, is probably the most difficult language to learn. While I don't meet people every day who only speak Spanish or Mandarin, it's still useful to know the languages and learning a foreign language is intellectually stimulating. --SapphoChan17

If our country is gaining immigrants and trading with more countries than ever before, learning a second language would be essential to maybe gain a better job or promotion, or maybe to meet new people. --JPBrick

This being my first edit I apologise if I'm somehow messing up the structure. Being European I figured it might be interesting to add something about my perspective on languages. Since Europe is roughly of the same size as the US (on a very general scale that is), but consists of some 50 nations using some 30 languages our situation is very different from the US, where even the largest neighbour to the North mainly speaks the same language. In Europe most people learn at least one foreign language from third or fourth grade. Personally I took English for ten years (3rd to 12th) and German for 5 (7th to 11th), then some Russian while in the military, and Dutch as an exchange student in the Netherlands during college. Having countries with different languages virtually around the corner shows you the use for knowing languages in a more direct way than a remote possibility in your future professional life. I do believe however that knowing a foreign language is never 'bad' as in being a waste. As someone pointed out above it is not possible to fully understand a culture without knowing the language of the culture. Which language to start with is of course a matter of discussion. Considering the growth of the Chinese impact I guess you could say everone should learn Chinese of some form, but in the US I assume Spanish (or possibly French) might come to more immediate use. I'd also like to point out that the more languages you know, the easier it becomes to learn more. --SwedeSteve

Yes, learning a foreign language expands young minds and allows them to learn from other perspectives. In an ever globalizing world, whether you support globalization or not, learning a foreign language is useful for communication. When children grow up they are bound to meet foreigners at some time in their lives. Also, learning a foreign language cause students to use their brains in different ways. It has been proven that different parts of the brain "light up" when people start thinking in different languages. Of course learning a foreign language should be optional but I highly recommend it. I took latin and I'm not going to be a doctor or anything but it gave me an understanding of the origins of the english language and increased my vocabulary. Language and writing is the foundation of civilization and we should do our best to enhance our understanding of the world. -Nonobu

Only if they desire to learn one--TedM 23:22, 9 March 2009 (EDT)

Only if they desire to live in a global community --LincolnShuddered

Maybe everyone else should just learn a universal language like english. It's not hard or anything.--Mattsmith 11:36, 6 January 2010 (EST)

haha english is one of the most complex languages on earth (at least, that is spoken regularly)and many people dont have the time to be able to learn it. If a universal language is your goal better to go with somthing like esperanto, which was specifically designed to be easy to learn and be a universal language--CainR 12:47, 20 January 2010 (EST)

English Grammar is immensely complex, therefore making it difficult to learn. Look at the UN's official Languages: Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, English, French and Russian. Variants and dialects of these languages are spoken all over the globe and by most of the population. However, in terms of pure population, the three most important languages beside English would be Chinese, Hindi/Urdu and Spanish, as these alone are spoken as a mother tongue by approx 2.5 billion people.

Also, languages relate to specific subjects. People studying music require a rudimentary understanding of Italian, For Lawyers, it is French. Latin and Greek relate to not only Classical Literature and History, but to all aspects of science and medicine. So these languages should at least be touched on during tertiary education. As someone who's been brought up speaking/learning various languages, it's good for children to be able to communicate; because there's a whole lotta world out there.

Yes, but i'd rather they got a choice in the matter. Making kids learn spanish in 1st grade is all well and good, but what if they never need it and would have prefered french or german or any other their school provides later? --SeanS 17:01, 30 May 2011 (EDT)


Of course! English as a second language teachers are in high demand around the world, that's why I'm learning Mandarin right now. (It's not that hard)--IluvAviation (talk) 17:38, 7 May 2017 (EDT)

Agreed here, too - I'm fluent in Spanish, and working on French and Greek - and I don't think they're useless; they open up a new trove of literature, and of course puns. I know two other English-Spanish-French trilinguals, and we love to share trilingual puns.--Abcqwe (talk) 19:06, 7 May 2017 (EDT)

Only if the student wishes

English is the main language of the U.S., and I think it should be the official language. The increase in Spanish-speakers is one of the ways we see America becoming more multicultural, and that is dividing and destroying our nation. Americans need to see themselves as Americans first, rather than Mexicans, Germans, black-skinned, or white-skinned. Having a united melting-pot culture and the same language is a very powerful way in which we can achieve this unity. There's nothing wrong with knowing another language, and knowing another language can be a very beneficial and good thing (I can speak German with relative fluency, and I learned other languages that I have since forgotten). However, we should focus on what unites us -- and language is a powerful tool for creating either unity or disunity. --1990'sguy (talk) 20:09, 7 May 2017 (EDT)