Why take a world language in high school?

The schedule in Señora Buchters room displays a full week of learning ahead.

Katy Babcock

The schedule in Señora Buchter’s room displays a full week of learning ahead.

Katy Babcock, Copy Editor

PV is known for its plethora of math, science, English, and social studies courses. Beyond these classes, language studies have emerged as an honorary core class.

PV currently offers three foreign languages and American Sign Language (ASL). Spanish, French and Japanese are introduced at the junior high level with a preparatory “World Language” class. Students then choose a language to pursue during their high school years. Students have the opportunity to take up to five years of their chosen language with AP classes. 

However, many do not take advantage of the full five years. 

Most colleges request that applicants have a minimum of two years in a foreign language prior to college. Because of this, many high school students abruptly stop their language studies after fulfilling the two-year requirement. Those students lose the benefits of one of the most valuable programs a school can offer. 

With the right instruction, there are many advantages to pursuing multiple years of a foreign language at the high school level. 

After completing four years of a language, students can take the Seal of Biliteracy exam. 

A passing score indicates literary proficiency in a second language. The Seal of Biliteracy is valuable information to prospective colleges and employers and may play a role in acceptance. Furthermore, being bilingual can potentially increase future salaries.

Not only do language studies develop literacy, but they expose students to cultures different from their own, promoting cultural relativism and appreciation. The Midwest is generally monocultural, with limited exposure to cultural diversity. 

At PV, world language teachers are not only passionate about teaching the language, but the culture accompanying it. The Spanish 3 curriculum includes a “¿Sabías que?” (Did you know?) unit to teach students about Hispanic and Latino culture. 

The Spanish department incorporated “¿Sabías que?” into the curriculum to bring “more culture into the classroom” said PV Spanish teacher Kathryn Buchter. 

Initially, students were learning about Hispanic and Latino culture with graded culture projects. “We didn’t want the culture to be tied to a grade,” Buchter continued. A daily “¿Sabías que?” fact proved a more fun and less stressful way to incorporate culture in the classroom. 

Learning a second language also has vast cognitive benefits. There are two areas of the brain central to language, Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas. By challenging one’s brain with a new language, these areas are strengthened. When studying language, the brain’s ability to focus, multitask and comprehend is enhanced, improving performance in all cognitive functions. 

A plethora of skills are developed during second language acquisition: speaking, reading, writing and listening. Each requires a strong grammatical and vocabulary understanding to be bilingually proficient. It takes hundreds of hours to become fluent. 

World language classes are some of the most demanding at PV. The curriculum involves a heavy workload of projects, homework, presentations and tests. Additionally, the class rigor increases with each level. 

Senior Amory Brown is no stranger to this, having taken four years of Spanish. Brown feels learning a new language is essential. “Everyone should take at least two years of a language. With how our world is developing, it’s beneficial to know a language besides English. When you’re traveling, even knowing basic phrases allows you to communicate with others. Learning any foreign language is useful because it broadens your horizons,” Brown stated. 

Although it may seem like a daunting task, learning a new language provides benefits that outweigh the time and effort it demands.