Each day at school I listen to my peers complain about having to go to their foreign language class. They insist that their chosen language is worthless and the class is extremely boring. Too often, once students at my school complete their requirements for foreign language credits, they quit for good. Little do they know, they are contributing to a huge problem in America.
Take Spanish, for example. Considering the growing Hispanic population in the United States, Spanish is becoming omnipresent. To be able to communicate with immigrants in our communities, we must be able to speak the same language. Here’s where our problem arises. Many Americans expect foreigners to know English already. They feel as if it is not their responsibility to learn another language. This problem stems from a superiority complex that United States has had since its birth. Since many Americans feel as if their country is superior to all others, they expect foreigners to cater to their needs.
On a recent exchange through my school in Austria and Germany, I noticed that everyone spoke almost perfect English. It didn’t matter who it was. The hotel staff, the taxi drivers, the shop keepers all spoke English to varying extents. As impressive as it was, I felt bad that they were the ones catering to our needs, even though we were in their country. During an exchange in Austria, my exchange partner was fluent in English and German, as well as being proficient in both French and Spanish. I was able to see firsthand how uncultured and ignorant Americans were compared to Europeans.
Fortunately, I love my Spanish classes. The feeling I get when I am able to communicate with another person from a completely different background exhilarates me. It feels as if you are a part of something bigger than yourself. It makes all the time spent in your “boring” language classes worth it. Everyone needs to experience this feeling at least once. So, I urge you, if you are thinking about quitting your foreign language class, please reconsider. If you don’t take a foreign language, please think about enrolling. I promise you, it will open up opportunities for you in the future. Little by little, we can fix this problem in America.
Blog submitted by Ellie Copaken, a high school student and youth volunteer with YVC in Kansas City, MO.