Foreign language requirements discussed, beneficial to students in future education

Sally Cochran, Editor in Chief

Four credits of English Language Arts.
Three credits of social studies, science and mathematics.
One credit of physical education, technology and fine arts.
One-half credit of Health and Wellness.
To graduate from Blue Valley, students must have all of the above courses as well as seven and a half elective credits.
There’s no foreign language requirement — even though, according to Spanish teacher Kathryn Sanflé, most colleges look for a minimum of two years of foreign language on a high school transcript.
“I don’t see [the requirements] changing until there’s an admissions requirement for colleges,” Sanflé said. “Lots of colleges are recommending foreign language for part of admissions — it’s something they look at on your transcripts, but it’s not a requirement. I don’t think states will start to require it as part of [actual] graduation requirements unless it’s driven by universities.”
AP French Language
AP French 5 student senior Taylor Daniels has taken French for seven years and is the secretary of National French Honor Society.
“I know a lot of colleges like having four years of foreign language on your resume,” she said. “I figured, ‘I’ve gone this far, why not keep going?’”
Daniels said she believes there should be a foreign language requirement for graduation.
“I think it’s helpful for each kid to be exposed to that,” she said. “I guess it’d be kind of hard to justify why exactly each kid needs it.”
Sanflé said she thinks foreign language is becoming more relevant in business.
“If you just have a business degree but you’re going up against someone who has a business degree and speaks a foreign language, it’s making for a lot more of a desirable candidate,” she said. “I think it’s becoming a deciding factor, especially in the business world between candidates who are equally qualified or interview well or if there’s no major determining factor between a couple of people who are interviewing for the same position. But, if someone has more experience or has a foreign language, that’s going to set them apart and make them more desirable for employment.”
She said foreign language is also applicable for many jobs based on where you live.
“Depending on what geographic region you are in, what kind of part of town, a lot of medical industries and a lot of even lawyers and court industries are starting to be much more [inclined toward foreign language]. Even in Kansas City, there are a lot more advertisements on Spanish radio stations for traditionally English-speaking companies who are trying to start to serve the growing Hispanic population here. We don’t even have a huge Spanish-speaking population in Kansas City relative to some other places.”
Sanflé said although college admissions generally look for foreign language classes, there are some exceptions.
“Part of the difficulty with universities is they’re not sure, depending on what course of study you’re going to have, that foreign language is a requirement,” she said. “If you’re going to study fine arts, studying a foreign language isn’t going to be a requirement for that. The university’s not going to make it a blanket admissions requirement, most likely.”
Sanflé said students participate in activities similar to those found in standardized tests in a foreign language class.
“There’s a variety of different skill sets that are measured — reading, writing, speaking and listening,” she said. “All beneficial skills to have just in life.”
Sanflé said foreign language also enhances English vocabulary.“There are many words that are actual cognates — they’re just more English words,” she said. “They’re like the ‘ACT word of the day’ type words that we learn a lot of in all the foreign languages here. It will help students perform better when they need more vocabulary. It helps writing skills — it helps comprehension skills. It’s obviously at a lower level than what your ELA class will be doing, but it’ll still be similar activities and similar concepts.”