Foreign language should not be a requirement for the college of arts and sciences

By Will Chamblee | Sports Writer

Currently, Baylor requires students in the College of Arts and Sciences to fulfill a language requirement.

This language requirement varies depending on the curriculum a student is on and the language a student is learning. Generally, students need to take three to four semesters of a language to meet the requirement. I would argue this requirement is out of place among the rest of Baylor’s general requirements and is unneeded.

The benefits of being proficient in a second language are well known. It is a major resume booster that can make one more attractive to potential job recruiters. Research also suggests that learning a second language can help increase cognitive function and processing ability.

Learning a second language is obviously beneficial, especially for students. However, in its current state, both College of Arts and Sciences curricula do not teach fluency or proficiency in any language.

Three to four semesters of a language is not enough time to become proficient in any language, especially when balancing learning that language with four or five other classes.

Studies estimate between 1% and 10% of American adults are proficient in a foreign language that they learned in an American classroom.

At best, language classes serve as a minor distraction from other more important classes. Requiring language classes also forces students to pay for multiple classes that are not furthering their education.

College of Arts and Sciences dean Dr. Lee Nordt said that the new College of Arts and Sciences curriculum aspires to “develop various skills necessary for the completion of an academic degree, but also essential for personal and professional life beyond Baylor.”

The language requirement does not accomplish this, especially considering students can complete their requirement by completing two semesters of Hebrew or Latin, languages that are rarely useful outside of an academic setting.

The current curriculum doesn’t allow enough time for students to sufficiently develop their skills in a language to be considered proficient. However, forcing students to take more language classes would be unreasonable.

This is not to say that Baylor should abolish the language department. As stated earlier, learning and becoming proficient at another language can be a very valuable asset. Students, if they so choose, should be able to take language classes. A language requirement may also be useful in certain majors.

However, an entire college should not force students to waste their time and money on classes that will most likely not affect their education or lives outside of Baylor. Instead, the College of Arts and Sciences should allow students to choose electives that interest them or replace the language requirement with classes that are more beneficial to students’ academic growth.