Head to Head: The Pros of Taking A World Language


Head to Head Reporters Bill Lewis (left) and Ella Smullen (right) share their views on taking world language classes.

Ella Smullen, Reporter

Head to Head is where two reporters take opposite sides of a topic and give their side of it. In this edition, Reporters Ella Smullen and Bill Lewis debate the pros and cons of taking a world language in high school.

I’m not sure what path I want to pursue after high school. I have a lot of interests, including French, and am still trying to figure out what to study later on. However, many colleges require students to take a language course during their high school career. I’m currently in AP French and plan on taking more French classes later on.

When talking about the value of language classes in high school, college world language requirements or AP credits are usually the first things considered. However, there are many other benefits to learning a second language. As I see it, in addition to meeting admissions requirements, learning French gives me personal satisfaction and helps me form new friendships.

I have made multiple friends in my French class over the past two years and even have many friends abroad with who I keep in contact regularly. That sort of opportunity for friendship with people in foreign countries is much harder to achieve without taking a language class.

Learning a language is an intellectual challenge and can sometimes be frustrating. For me, though, the reward of being able to fluently converse and express myself in another language outweighs the struggle of understanding tricky grammar or memorizing countless vocabulary words.

Additionally, taking a world language class can have many benefits for me later on. As previously stated, most universities have a language requirement, regardless of the field I choose to pursue. For example, UW-Madison requires that applicants take two years of a language in high school, but recommends taking more. It is also possible to earn retroactive credits at many schools by testing into higher-level language courses. At UW-Madison, I could achieve this by taking a placement test and attaining a B or above in one of their French classes. However, it’s important to note that this system differs depending on the university.

Finally, taking AP French offers a boost to my high school GPA, and if I receive a passing score on the AP exam, I can even earn helpful college credit.

I wholeheartedly recommend every student take a world language. Being able to communicate with different people internationally can open up new opportunities in a future career or, just as importantly, be a source of satisfaction and unique friendships.

Taking a language class is a big time commitment, and I understand focusing on other interests. That being said, French has been one of the most enjoyable classes I’ve taken so far in my high school career. I urge anybody on the fence about taking a foreign language to give it a try!