Proposed Law Further Undermines Second Language Learning
In promoting language learning and multicultural understanding, an issue we are often faced with is the lack of support by key decision makers to prioritize educational programs for the learning of a language other than English (LOTE). This reluctance to support LOTE education is at odds with the growing evidence that shows that the United States will be at an economic and social disadvantage and more vulnerable in our national security if we continue to neglect multiple language learning in our educational system (Commission on Language Learning by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences). Moreover, the job market demand for bilingual and bi-literate individuals continues to grow at an expansive rate in more specialized jobs and professional fields (Bilinguals: The Talented Workforce for the 21st Century). Yet, despite this inherent need and benefits in cultivating bilingual and bi-literate citizens, lawmakers are again devaluing the importance of LOTE programs through proposed legislation.
Texas State law currently allows students to substitute LOTE credit requirements with two computer science courses (Computer Science I and II). New proposed legislation will increase the number of approved computer science courses that can substitute LOTE credit. Why does this matter? Isn’t computer coding a language with its own vocabulary and syntax? It matters a great deal and here is why.
Not a question of either LOTE or Computer Science but of both:
Language learning with multicultural understanding cultivates many soft skills that computer science does not and simply cannot. Language learning programs, when done correctly, fosters perspective taking and cultivates multicultural understanding, both of which foster more effective collaboration and understanding across diverse groups. The introduction of new cultures, ideas and ways of thinking also enhances creative thinking and adaptability. Language learning also builds on transferable cognitive skills that can enhance learning in science, math and technology. These cognitive skills include cognitive load management (the ability to filter out noise and focus on relevant information), problem solving, abstract thinking, and sense making. (Power Point Presentation to NABE on the importance of bilingualism for success in STEAM related fields) Moreover, these positive soft skill benefits extend far beyond the classroom into both a student’s personal and professional life. In fact these are the soft skills often sited as the most important skills for current and future jobs (World Economic Forum). Therefore, lawmakers must not continue to support bills that pit one subject against the other but rather promote both LOTE skills and computer skills to better prepare our future workforce.
Please support LOTE programs in public education:
The Texas Foreign Language Association has drafted a letter to send to State Senators and to the State Board of Education (SBOE) to advocate against the proposed legislation that will further undermine interest in and support for LOTE education. They ask that concerned parents, students and teachers send this letter or their personalized version to their local State Senators and SBOE members NO LATER THAN APRIL 3RD as the deadline for a vote is quickly approaching.
- Optional letter to send drafted by the Texas Foreign Language Association
- To find your SBOE member:
- To find state senators on the education committee:
For more reading on this topic:
- The surprising thing Google learned about its employees — and what it means for today’s students–Washington Post
- Coding Can’t and Shouldn’t Replace Foreign Language Requirements–NY Times Opinion Page
- Students Should Learn Programming. But It Shouldn’t Count as a Foreign Language–Slate
- Translation technology is useful, but should not replace learning languages