Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Foreign language not important

This Nat. Geographic study shows that a lot of Americans cannot find common places on a map, but I just heard it cited for its finding that 47 percent think it is "important but not absolutely necessary" to speak a foreign language, and 38 percent say it is "not too important".

I am with the 38%. In fact, I would say that learning a non-English language is not necessary or important at all, unless you want to be a UN interpreter or something like that. English is the World's language, and there is hardly any value in learning any other language.

In other news, the FCC has decided that Morse Code is no longer necessary for ham radio operators.


Jonathan said...

Well, I think you may be overgeneralizing a bit here.

For one, I'm glad I studied Classical Latin for several years, it was fun, and it gave me a (little bit of a) leg up in law school. I also enjoyed studying a small smattering of Ancient Sanskrit in college -- and fun is important, right? Studying "dead" languages can be also be very important for historians. As far as modern languages go, I think it's important if you want to travel overseas and not stick out like a sore thumb -- far better to blend in like a native, to the extent that you can, as opposed to being carted around in a tour bus (in some places, that is tantamount to painting a large bullseye on your back).

Most importantly, however, we need foreign service officers, spies, covert operatives, special forces troops, translators, etc. One of the general requirements for most spec-ops folks is learning a second language -- makes it easier to fight the enemy Over There.

I do agree with the general spirit of your thought, however -- most folks won't end up becoming historians, foreign service officers, or spec-war operatives. I think it's Not A Good Thing that police officer candidates in Des Moines, Iowa are now required to be fluent in Espanol, as reported by mainstream media recently.

Jonathan Burdick

Roger said...

Yes, there are a few others who need foreign languages. But with all the things that kids could be learning, non-English languages are low on the list.