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Foreign language benefits careers

As the world changes, knowledge of foreign languages is increasing in importance. Yet there is no foreign language requirement for high schoolers in the state of Ohio.

Individual school districts may have foreign language requirements, but the state only requires foreign language for a student to receive an honors diploma. Because of this, high schools are required to offer three years of one language or two years of two languages.

The lack of a foreign language requirement is because Ohio legislature has not required state-wide testing in this area, explained Deborah Robinson, the state’s world language consultant.

At Bowling Green High School, principal Jeff Dever explained that even though BGHS does not have a foreign language requirement, he thinks learning another language and culture is very important.

‘The country is changing. For certain jobs, you need it [foreign language skills],’ Dever said. ‘It is important to be bilingual.’

BGHS offers French, German and Spanish, with a first year of courses available in the eighth grade. The highest enrollment is in Spanish, which is also the most common language to be taken in the state, according to Robinson.

High school is not the only factor that causes students to take Spanish.

‘There is a false impression that it is easy to learn, and advisors ‘hellip; automatically suggest it,’ said Tim Pogacar, the chair of the German, Russian, and East Asian Studies department at the University.

Career Choices

This generation has come to understand the importance of Spanish, said Federico Chalupa, chair of the Romance Languages department.

‘Spanish adds to your marketability,’ he said, adding that it can be beneficial in business careers like accounting or advertising.

The best language to take depends on career choice, especially since English is not always used when translating. For instance, the Chinese translate into French.

French is used for many diplomatic purposes, so it can be equally important if a student wants to be in that field.

‘The University has supported language programs like Russian, Italian and Chinese when they have been cut [across the country]. BG is better in that regard,’ Pogacar said.

However, for Pogacar, adding courses in Arabic, Korean, or a South Asian language would be beneficial. Swahili is being taught this year for the first time.

A benefit of studying abroad is a proof of adaptability and versatility, according to Pogacar.

In addition, foreign languages can come in handy in a multitude of situations.

‘It will serve you no matter what. World languages open up the world,’ Robinson said.

Funding

Dever said that BGHS is lucky to have the University so close, because if students want to take a language the high school does not offer, they can take post-secondary classes. But even with the University, Dever wishes there were more offerings.

Because of a lack of money that prevents school districts from offering many language choices, President Bush is planning to ask for $114 million in 2007, according to The Washington Post on January 6. This money would allow languages necessary to national security to be offered. These languages are Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Hindi and Farsi.

Enrollment

At BGHS nearly 75 percent of students are enrolled in language programs.

At the University, Pogacar said that enrollment is way up. The University has the largest beginning Chinese program in 20 years.

Also the beginning Japanese class has been at capacity for three years. And Russian is up 100 percent from two years ago. German’s beginning classes are the highest in 10 years.

Even though the number of students in these classes has risen, the actual numbers are not that high. A full Japanese class has only 50 students.

‘There are a greater variety of students taking language courses,’ Pogacar said. He explained that business, music and technology students are in these classes when the class is not needed.

Over 3000 students will take romance language classes this year, according to Chalupa.

This year, the University eliminated the High School Articulation Policy, which stated that students needed two years of the same language to attend. If students did not have this, it would need to be made up.

This policy was designed in the 1980s, but was outdated and eliminated a year ago, said Mark Gromko, vice provost for Academic Programs.

The language department on campus asked for a foreign language requirement to be reviewed. This would be a standalone requirement, similar to the requirement before.

Gromko said that it will be at the end of the spring semester before a decision is made.

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