Why You Should Take a Language in High School

BY JACK MORGENSTEIN

We’ve all been in the position before of selecting classes for our next semester. Odds are, if you’re anything like me, you find the sheer number of courses overwhelming. Most colleges require two language credits, but is there any other benefit to filling up one of your valuable class slots with a higher-level language course?

The answer is a resounding yes—and not for the reasons you may think. The most valuable part of taking a language in high school is not at all about actually speaking the language. According to President Lyndon B. Johnson, “If we are to live together in peace, we must come to know each other better.” This concept is more relevant today than ever before, as we live in a highly interconnected global community where misunderstandings between business and political leaders have cascading effects on the global stage. Mutual understanding could be the difference between world peace and nuclear destruction. Learning another language has given me a newfound appreciation for many diverse cultures. An integral part of any good language course is learning about the associated culture. Long after all the Spanish I’ve learned has left my mind, I’ll still remember singing in Sra. BA’s room and learning traditional Spanish legends in Sra. Stewart’s room. I have gained a respect for other cultures I could never have otherwise gotten here in suburbia. This respect leads to mutual understanding, which can create connections between all of us and lead the way to peace on a wide scale and better interpersonal skills in everyday life.

Whether or not college is in the future, taking a world language is an important step to becoming not only a global citizen but a better person by informing conceptions you may have about others and creating respect. The next time you’re picking classes, consider checking the box for a language.

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