What Foreign Language Class Should You Take?


Steve Cadman

Globe: Steve Cadman, flickr | https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevecadman/134974908 | Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Erick Trejo, Staff Writer

Languages have existed for over 50,000 years, and they have evolved throughout millenia. While people in Mexico may respond with an “Hola” upon being greeted by their local taco vendor, people in France may say “Bonjour” to the town’s baker before purchasing a glorious, world-renowned baguette. In Germany, you might be greeted with a friendly “Hallo” or “Guten Tag”! Learning a new language unveils a fresh world of possibilities, so Science Hill fortunately offers multiple foreign language classes including Spanish, French, and German. As most students know, studying a foreign language is a requirement for graduation; thus, the choice is important.

Before selecting a foreign language, students may want to consider the characteristics of the language, their personality, the benefits of learning the language, and their plans beyond high school.

Unsurprisingly, Spanish is the most popular foreign language at Science Hill. Mrs. Jimenez, one of the three Spanish teachers at Science Hill, explains the numerous benefits of learning the language. First, she notes, “Spanish is going to be helpful in practically any career.”

Spanish is going to be helpful in practically any career.

— Mrs. Jimenez, Spanish Teacher

She continues, saying, “If you don’t plan to travel in the future, you are still going to be able to help your community by using the Spanish language. If you want to be a nurse, you’re going to have Spanish speaking patients with whom you can make a connection and make them feel comfortable”. In addition, students interested in travel, the medical field, or opening their own business will discover that learning this language can allow them to access more clients. Despite Spanish’s versatility, Mrs. Jimenez explains that the language you choose depends on “what career you are interested in” or “where you would like to travel in the future”. However, students don’t need to take Spanish exclusively for its academic and career benefits. According to Mrs. Jimenez, “students who might be more conversational or more outgoing would take something like Spanish”. This statement holds true according to two junior students who are currently taking Spanish 4 Honors. After being asked what they enjoy about Spanish class, they comment, “We enjoy our classmates and each other”. One of the students also adds, “Oftentimes, you’ll have a lot of friends in that class”. Although a social aspect to learning Spanish certainly exists, one must be reminded that completion of assignments, homework, and projects is demanded just like other classes. However, this does not mean that Spanish must be difficult or stressful. Mrs. Jimenez explains, “The level of difficulty [of the class] many times depends on your personal motivation”.

On the other hand,

If you’d like to stand out from the crowd, you might consider taking French.

According to Mrs. Jimenez, French and Spanish are “very similar” and “come from romance languages”. Mrs. Gregg, a French teacher, explains that French is “a language of royalty” and nowadays is “used more often in business”. Colby Reed, president of French Club, adds that it “is a very underrated language in America”. According to Mrs. Gregg, students that take French are typically “studious [and] have very good families backing them. They’ve got a plan, and they’re AP all the way around.”. Mrs. Gregg also elaborated that students often take French as an alternative to Spanish. This proved to be the case for Milind Chaturvedi, a current senior and former French student. He stated, “I just didn’t want to take Spanish. I thought French would be different and I also heard it was a fun language to take”. Of course, fun does not translate to easy, but students taking French shouldn’t be frightened by its difficulty. Colby explains, “I actually had to work and try, and there was a challenge”; however, he also “felt that both Mrs. Gregg and Mrs. Horne did a very good hands-on, cultured approach” towards teaching the class. Despite its difficulty, studying French unleashes a plethora of academic benefits! “It helps you learn a basis of words so that when you are reading for the ACT, you might see words that you do not know but you’ll be able to relate them to some of the French words that you know, ” says Mrs. Gregg. In addition to academic benefits, learning French could help you in your career goals. For example, after high school, Colby has “toyed around with the idea of studying abroad in France or Quebec”. Whenever he does reps, Milind “counts in French”, and he has said he is pursuing “a few French classes in college”.

French and Spanish share resemblances, but according to Mrs. Jimenez, “German is not as similar as those two”. Although different, German actually shares characteristics with another familiar language: English. Ms. Keener, currently the only German teacher at Science Hill, explains that learning German is “easier than people think”. Ms. Keener points out: “English is derived from Latin and German. Reading is probably the easiest part”. Ms. Keener teaches the language “in context”. For example, her method is “teaching by speaking and doing… We’re talking about walking while we’re walking.” Her class also features “thirty minutes a day in class talking in German”. In regards to the social aspects of German class, students planning to take German can expect to develop great friendships. “We actually get to know each other really well because we talk all the time together”. Most students that choose German “are very into music”, and in fact, some of Ms. Keener’s highest achieving students are from the theater department. The benefits of learning German are extensive. For instance,

Studying German can improve English grammar tremendously since German grammar rules are very complimentary.

The decision to study German could also be influenced by your plans after high school. According to Ms. Keener, the language is “attractive to people who are in the STEM field” because “there’s so much technology and manufacturing that happens in Germany”. Furthermore, German is “a unique skill but a very needed skill”. Ms. Keener emphasizes, “It’s good to learn German mainly because of the opportunity to work for a German company here in the state of Tennessee. German businesses have been growing in the last ten to fifteen years.”

Foreign languages hold the ability to unlock new perspectives, open your eyes to new cultures, and bolster job opportunities in the future. Whether you choose Spanish, French or German, there exists no ounce of doubt that you will acquire knowledge and long-lasting experiences. Given the benefits of learning a foreign language, you might even consider pursuing a foreign language beyond the required graduation credits.