The College is committed to providing an education that will propel its students into professional and personal success and fulfillment. The College prides itself on this point, endeavoring always to offer its students every educational opportunity. This commitment is articulated in the College’s Mission statement.
Rohit Thawani, student trustee, echoed the sentiment expressed in the mission statement. He acknowledged that, “in a global society, we need to know how to speak other languages.”
I applaud Rohit and encourage others to consider the myriad benefits and rewards to learning a foreign language. It is not the responsibility of all non-English speakers to learn English for our sake. In fact, this is a naive and xenophobic view.
Here in the U.S., where immigration is a defining force in the growth of the country’s demographic and economic trends, it is becoming increasingly important to be both multicultural and multi-lingual.
It is every college’s responsibility to prepare students for life after graduation. This means that students must not only compete and succeed in the work place but also act as responsible, informed citizens.
Foreign language classes provide students an opportunity to learn not only the language, but also to make cross-cultural comparisons through film, art, history and literature.
Such knowledge and skills will surely facilitate a transition into the global workplace, whether it be business, management, law enforcement, nursing, engineering, the arts, computer science, education or other professions. This mindset is at the core of the College’s mission and it should continue to be the driving force behind any change that will affect this community of learners.
Alan C. Fraintz concludes that studying a foreign language in his article, “Seventeen Values of Foreign Language Study”:
1. Expands one’s view of the world.
2. Fosters an understanding of the interrelation of language and human nature.
3. Develops the intellect.
4. Teaches and encourages respect for other peoples.
5. Contributes to cultural awareness and literacy.
6. Builds practical skills (for travel or commerce).
7. Improves the knowledge of one’s own language through comparison and contrast with the foreign language.
8 .Exposes the learner to modes of thought outside the native language.
9. Preserves (or fosters) a country’s image as a cultured nation.
At N.J. elementary and secondary schools, the study of a foreign language is already in place with the implementation of the World Languages Mandate, which requires that all students begin their foreign language education during their formative years.
Our responsibility as professors at the College is to continue this mandate and to educate and prepare our students to meet the challenges of this century.
Business students should embrace the opportunity to study Chinese. China, Germany and Japan are important trading partners for the United States; anyone with an interest in business or commerce would find it helpful (even necessary) to learn one or more of these languages.
Likewise, all other majors could benefit from the study of almost any foreign language, for success in their studies is dependent on the understanding of other times, places, cultures, events and the consequences of their interactions.
Why should you study a foreign language? Because the world is changing and today, we are citizens of both the United States and of the wider global community. It is our challenge and our duty as an educated group of people to extend ourselves beyond the borders of our minds, our communities and our country.