Foreign Barriers

November 30, 2015

Does any student here at Overlea high school truly understand the foreign language they are required to master in order to graduate? Almost every student in the school has participated in a foreign language course but what are the chances anyone can recall the last lesson they sat through? Ultimately, the foreign language requirement becomes a burden upon the students because it lowers the GPA of possible college bound students, the anemic selection options for courses and a unified negative opinion towards the course requirement. Over time, factors such as these have created a disdain for the foreign language program all together, only crippling a student’s chances of succeeding in the class.

Despite what outside communities may think, Overlea actually has students who can receive top level grades in competitive courses. A common theme throughout the school though, is that the foreign language program has great potential to create a blemish on an otherwise perfect transcript. Students such as Lauren Dewberry (’17) have a history of consistent high quality work except in their respective foreign language course. Lauren contributes her own opinion as she explains her GPA drop off. “Last year it dropped my GPA because I was failing Spanish because I couldn’t understand it. So yeah, it definitely has had a negative effect on my once-high GPA.”

Currently, Baltimore County provides an extremely limited selection of foreign language options. To this date, only two languages, Spanish and French, are provided to the students here at Overlea. It would only make sense for the school system to provide more than two options for foreign language if Baltimore County has it as a requirement for graduation. According to Ms. Butler, one of the two French teachers here at the school, “Baltimore County is looking for teachers who can teach foreign languages. The problem isn’t that they can’t find people that can speak the language but instead it is difficult to find people who can teach these skills to a younger generation.

It is quite an understatement to claim that the populous of the student body dislikes the foreign language requirement. In most cases, students feel as if they have no need for the required foreign language course because they will not use it in the future. Trayvon Owens (’16) is an avid believer that he will not have any use of the skills he acquired in his foreign language class, “No I won’t need to remember any of that. What will be the purpose? The job of a financial planner has no need of a requirement to speak Spanish, so why take it?”

Although this the overall opinion throughout the school, there are some specific students that see foreign language as a necessity. Students such as Shatira Williams (’17) and Olivia van’t Hoff (’16) feel it might be beneficial to learn a foreign language. Shatira says, “Yes it is important for me because I plan to become the owner of an international business, so a foreign language is a need.” Olivia agrees, “A governmental diplomat needs to be able to communicate with other cultures so it is more than a necessity to learn another foreign language.” But is it right to make it a requirement throughout all Baltimore County?

As it stands now, the foreign language program is a burden on the student population. Not everyone has future aspirations that requires an understanding of a foreign language, so why does the entire school body suffer because of the minority? In order to satisfy every student, Baltimore County should remove the foreign language requirement and allow the student to make their own personal choice. This will be very beneficial for all, the students who do not wish to take part in a foreign language won’t be required to take the class and classes will be smaller allowing for more in-depth discussions and better student to teacher relationships.

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