Is it really necessary to take three years of a foreign language?


Sarah Stephenson, Staff Writer

One of the hardest decisions that sophomores have to make during class selections for junior year is whether or not to take a third year of a foreign language. In order to graduate LHS students have to take at least two years of the same foreign language. But it is recommended by guidance to take three if you plan on attending college.

I struggled with making this decision for a long time. I finally made up my mind this week after I attended the NCAC Springfield College Fair. I selected 20 colleges that I was interested in and decided to ask them one question, “Excuse me, what’s your foreign language requirement?”

Many of the colleges said that they didn’t even have a requirement. I was surprised by this. Language teachers and counselors often drill into our head that colleges like three years of a language. In reality, not that many schools do, except for the more prestigious schools.

I called Harvard University’s admissions office and asked them about their foreign language requirement. The admissions worker explained to me that they don’t have a structured requirement but they recommend taking four years of a language. I can only assume that the other Ivy League colleges would say the same thing.

Other colleges responded with at least two years. I further asked if it was a bad idea to take another AP class rather than taking a third year of a foreign language class. They all told me to take the AP class. One college rep said that they focus more on your level of rigor and difficulty of the core classes, compared to specific classes such as foreign language.

I later called Western New England University admissions office and they said that they require at least two years but taking another AP class rather than a third year of language would look better.

Community colleges such as HCC and STCC don’t have a foreign language requirement of any kind.

From this little experiment I learned that unless you are going to an Ivy League college it isn’t really necessary for you to take a third year of a language.