Foreign language programs have received funding cuts

Michael Pincumbe and Michael Pincumbe

According to a recent report from CNN, researchers found 651 foreign language programs have been cut over the last five years. At BGSU, foreign language students are using the resources on campus to prepare for life after college, while helping other students trying to learn a new language.

Graduate student and Spanish teacher, Sarah Seal, believes learning a foreign language is one of the many ways to learn more about the world.

“I think that foreign language education is important because it gives a very different perspective on the world around you. We are not just one culture; we are many cultures,” she said. “It’s more than just understanding grammar rules but also understanding the cultures behind why we choose to say the things we do. For me it’s a passion, and it’s something that I have been interested in since high school. While I understand that there is a risk of unemployment and lack of funding, I think that it is worth the risk to be able to provide that for the next generation.”

The reasoning for this lack of funding includes the 2008 recession, increased funding for STEM classes and a lack of interest in foreign language. The only languages to see an uptick in enrollment are American Sign Language, Hebrew and Korean, according to CNN.

Due to the current decrease in foreign language funding, students have turned to alternative ways to learn a new language outside of the classroom. Graduate student and Spanish teacher, Tyler Anthony, believes the best way to learn a new language is by immersing yourself in the culture.

“The best way to learn is not really the commercialized resources like Rosetta Stone. It’s authentic material, like literature, children books. Even picture books are a great way to start learning. My favorite ways to learn would be TV, music or movies,” he said.

Regardless, Seal does believe there are beneficial websites for students to learn a new language.

“There are a lot of very helpful websites that will connect you with someone who speaks a foreign language. Study abroad is also another important way to learn a foreign language; I feel like I didn’t gain fluency until I spent time abroad,” she said.

According to an Modern Language Association study, 129 of the 651 cut programs were French classes. With the current decline in enrollment in certain foreign languages such as French, some students have had growing concerns over the potential for future opportunity after college.

“It’s deceiving to say that just because it’s not used in the U.S. they’re not going to find a job. French especially is one of the top languages recognized by the United Nations and is one of the languages used in government, international trade and diplomatic relations,” Anthony said.

French student and sports management major Ephraim Bacquet decided to take on a new language to challenge himself and learn more about his family history.

“I chose to learn French because I am part French, and I wanted to learn more about the language and the culture of my ancestors. I think it’s important to learn a new language because it’s a great way to build a resume and get a job; you can basically work anywhere,” he said.

With the ever-growing developments in technology and education, foreign education students at BGSU largely believe it is important for students to not only learn a foreign language but to immerse themselves into the culture of the language they want to study.