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The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

World languages: Are there enough options to choose from at this school?

Students+can+earn+the+Maryland+Seal+of+Biliteracy+award+for+any+of+the+listed+languages+by+taking+the+test.+The+test+assesses+a+students+understanding+of+the+language+through+oral%2C+reading+and+writing+exams.
Photo by Helen Manolis
Students can earn the Maryland Seal of Biliteracy award for any of the listed languages by taking the test. The test assesses a student’s understanding of the language through oral, reading and writing exams.

Signing up for classes can be scary and exciting, the exciting part coming from being in control of what subjects you take the next year. Electives are the most fun to pick because of the options you can choose from, yet when it comes to which languages you can sign up for, your choices are slim.

The only languages students are able to sign up for at this school are Spanish, French, Chinese and American Sign Language. Students can start taking a language as early as sixth grade and continue with it through their senior year of high school. Once you become a junior or senior, languages also have honors societies you can join to expand your understanding of the language. However, the question students are asking is why there isn’t a wider variety of languages they can choose from. Colleges offer more languages, and students argue that middle and high schools should as well.

Taking two years of a language is required to graduate high school, but students often take a third, fourth or even fifth or sixth year of a language if they started in middle school so giving students more options to choose from could encourage students to take their language for longer because there’s a higher chance of them enjoying the language they are taking if it’s one they find interesting. Not everyone wants to take one of the four languages offered which causes them to shy away from taking a language at all. However, since it is a requirement, students that aren’t interested in those languages end up only taking it for the minimum of recommended years, but that takes away from the main purpose of taking a language. Students are more likely to be encouraged to continue with their language for longer if they find that their school offers a less common language that they have always wanted to learn as a class.

Students may know that Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world, but it may come as a surprise that Chinese is the first. People usually assume that English is the most popular language in the world, but because of the large Chinese population, it takes the lead, leaving English in third place. As being able to speak those languages can help open up opportunities, it’s clear why Spanish and Chinese are taught in school. However, there are still people who would like to learn a language just for fun or personal reasons. Taking a language improves brain function, memory and listening skills. It doesn’t matter how common the language is, learning any language is beneficial for students, and giving them more options can open students up to learning something new or a language they have always wanted to learn.

The biggest concern is whether students would take the classes if there were other languages available. People may believe that it is a waste of money and teachers to have more than four world languages taught at school. More classes means more teachers that have to be hired and paid, and if those added classes aren’t even going to be full, what’s the point of having them? It’s not easy to estimate how many students would register for a class since there is no previous data showing if they have in the past. Hiring teachers is also not as easy as it seems due to a shortage of qualified language teachers. Yet aside from this fact, it is important that the school and other schools across the country try to find ways to make other languages available for students to take. It may not be easy, but it’s something that should be heavily considered for the incoming middle and high schoolers to have more opportunities.

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Helen Manolis, staff writer
Sophomore Helen Manolis is a staff writer in her first year on the Common Sense staff. During her free time, she likes to play sports and hang out with her friends and family. You can also find her on Instagram @helenmanolis_
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