Lack of diversity of foreign languages limits cultural awareness

Sarah DeMarino, Contributing Writer

We all know that feeling of walking into your foreign language class and trying to mentally prepare yourself for whatever you’re about to face for the next hour.  These classes, though tedious at times, can be extremely rewarding.  There’s nothing like hearing the language you’ve been studying being spoken in public or successfully communicating with someone in a foreign place.  We’ve all been given the opportunity to experience other languages and cultures at Schreiber and Weber; these languages are Spanish, French, Italian, and Latin.  The problem is, these are all European languages—where is the diversity?

It is no secret that the Schreiber foreign language department lacks global diversity, but this problem can seriously affect the students.  When the school limits the types of languages that offered to us, we are not as culturally well-rounded.  We live in a time where we have the opportunity to communicate with people from all over the world, thanks to advances in technology.  However, the types of languages that Schreiber teaches limit us.

“There are many nations that don’t speak any of the four languages offered to us.  This cuts off our ability to communicate with many people around the world,” said sophomore Ryan Tawil.

Some of the most popular languages spoken around the world are not offered at Schreiber, including Hindi, Arabic, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Japanese.  This puts Schreiber’s students at a disadvantage.  The ability to speak some of these languages could help students stand out more when applying to colleges and later in life in the business world, not to mention help them communicate in their everyday lives.

Why is it important that these languages be offered in high school?

“It sticks better when you learn it in high school or even middle school as opposed to college,” said sophomore Victoria Pittard when asked this question.  “The more time you are given to work on your languages the better.”

When traveling or meeting people throughout life (especially as a young person), having the ability to communicate with people from different cultures makes the journey more interesting.  The more languages we have the opportunity to learn in school, the better our communication skills and cultural knowledge will be down the road.

“Some students just aren’t interested in the languages that are being offered,” said sophomore Katherine Melkonian. “If there were more options, and teachers qualified to teach these languages, it would definitely be a draw to the language department.”

The language choices we have currently only target a specific group of students.  More students may be interested in languages if we broaden the scope of the languages offered in our language program.  Students would then be more likely to find a language that grabs their attention and sparks their interests. It is also important to avoid Western bias in our curriculum. All in all, the more languages that can be offered, the better for our Schreiber students.