Should Schools Stop Requiring Foreign Language Classes?

Currently, Farmington Public Schools require students to take foreign language for two years, in keeping with current state law.

Hoping to free up more options for students when it comes to high school electives, the House Education Committee approved two bills in Lansing on Tuesday that would eliminate the foreign language requirement for graduation.

Currently, Farmington Public Schools requires two years of foreign language, which complies with the state requirement, and "with the hopes that our students will have a global perspective and competitive edge in the college admission process," said Naomi Khalil, director of instructional equity.

Students can sign up for classes in Spanish, Japanese, French, German and Arabic.

"I strongly believe that the elimination of the foreign language requirement is misguided and does not reflect well on how the state prepares its residents for the global marketplace in which we live," Khalil said. 

By eliminating the two-year foreign language requirement, bill sponsors said, students not headed to college would have more vocational options in school. The Michigan Department of Education opposes the bill, according to the Detroit News.

Farmington Schools associate superintendent for instructional services and organizational leadership Dr. Michele Harmala said offering students the opportunity to explore foreign languages and other electives gives them opportunities to discover their strengths and interests. The district's foreign language courses also help prepare students for a world in which "the need to interact and communicate with people from all over the globe is becoming more and more important and necessary," she said. 

House Bills 4465-4466 would also modify required credits in physical education, the arts, career and technical education, science and math, according to the Livingston Daily Press & Argus.

The bill awaits a full house vote.


Tom Neal May 14, 2013 at 03:08 PM
In this world of global communication and expanding ethnic relations we need to learn another language whether we go to college or don't go to college. It would be misguided to do away with this requirement in high schools.
Cheryl Shah May 14, 2013 at 04:16 PM
I see this as just setting the stage for taking more state funds away from local school districts, because once there are fewer requirements then "clearly" we won't "need" as many teachers.
Michael Ritenour May 14, 2013 at 04:23 PM
I couldn't agree more. Hispanics are the fasting growing segment of our population, the Germans are the de facto leaders of Europe, and there are Arabic speaking peoples all over the world with whom we need to learn to communicate in order to avoid further conflict. I fail to understand why we would not want every student to be exposed to these and other languages and cultures.
Jim Fields May 14, 2013 at 04:24 PM
I don't think it should be a graduation requirement, because there's a difference between wanting to learn a language and being forced to. Students who are taking a language for graduation have no intentions of retaining the language, they're only taking the class because they have to. Other students, on the other hand, want to learn another language. They take the class and retain the knowledge because they want to learn it and go further with that class rather than taking the introduction and stopping. Maybe in it's place, a personal finance class or world cultures class should be a requirement. That way, they are learning something they'll need in life, or becoming familiar with different cultures since we live in an evermore diverse society.
Vera Lucksted May 14, 2013 at 04:30 PM
I agree with Jimmy that I would rather see a personal finance class as a requirement. While the option to learn a second language is a wonderful thing, I don't think it's necessary to require it for graduation.


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