Foreign Languages- iAy, Caramba!

Sitting in a musty classroom listening to a teacher blab at you in gibberish is a common mental picture when you hear the words foreign language. Many of us have wondered why we are forced to take one.

Maybe I’ll never go to Spain or Mexico and maybe you’ll never go to France or Canada. And who even speaks Latin anymore?? Well I hope you’re sitting down because I am about to reveal that there is a reason English isn’t the only language in the curriculum.

Latin is the most obvious language in terms of both usefulness and unusefulness. On one hand, it is a dead language. On the other hand, it is the foundation for English and helps with law and medical terms. French and Spanish help us with English too. Sure, they may not have laid out a foundation, but they help us understand English. When you come across a big English vocabulary term, you might recognize an English root, a Latin root, or even a correlation to a French or Spanish word. This can help you decipher the meaning of such a word.

Have you ever noticed that translating something literally into English sounds funny? We all now know that it is because different languages are structured differently. Starting in middle school, we have been challenged by wording things in a different language, but most of us have become used to it. Guess what! We learned!

Yes, Spanish may never visit you again after high school, but your brain certainly will stay with you (hopefully). Your brain has now developed the skill of interpreting things in more than one way and adapting to something different.

This can apply to basically everything we do in school. Every time you wonder, “what does this have anything to do with my life?” recall that it doesn’t matter what information or strategy you are required to use, the fact that you are learning at all and learning how to go about it is the goal. It’s all about brain development.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the Massachusetts Department of Education is not completely crazy.