High school foreign language classes

Some friends and I were having a discussion a few weeks ago about the requirement for a foreign language in high school. They require 2 years and I think some colleges even like to see 3. We all work in very different fields, but the consensus was that we never once in college or throughout our careers used anything from those 2 or more years. My guess is it’s required to round out the education, idk. But, I’m wondering did you take a language in high school? Do you use anything you learned? I had 2 years of French and have never used it. I’ve never been to France, but if I ever am, those 2 years won’t come in handy.

The year of Latin has come in handy over the years, but the 2 years of German were worthless.

Not particularly useful in my case (German and Latin), but I think schools should teach languages early, when children’s brains are best at absorbing language, rather than late.

I had 4 years of French and 3 years of Spanish. In high school, my goal was to teach French and Spanish in high school. That dream didn’t go far…

But I’ve been to France three times, so I got to use what I learned. I was also stationed in Spain briefly when I was in the Navy, and had many Hispanic coworkers. I never had to speak Spanish with them, but I’d occasionally catch what they were saying among themselves. And, no, they weren’t talking about me, so those of you who think anyone speaking a foreign language is mocking you - ain’t necessarily so. :smiley:

Well, I am using one of the foreign languages I learnt right now.

No requirement for my high school or my college. But I did take a year in college. Turned out to be just enough to satisfy the foreign language requirement for my PhD. (You gotta be able to read articles in foreign journals, you see.)

As to the usefulness of a foreign language: I don’t use it at all. Barely can count to five. But …

That year of learning a different language taught me more about English grammar than all of ElHi. That was definitely worth it.

One thing to keep in mind about a lot of education is that it’s not the basic facts of the material but the surrounding concepts that are so important to learn and remember.

English from age 10. I’ve gotten a lot of use from that. Two years of French in high school. I’ve not used it as much, and its kind of atrophied since.

I took four years of French in high school. My university had a foreign language proficiency requirement, as well. (I kind of wimped out on that one by taking a Polish exam. While not a language I formally learned, it’s one I grew up with and easily passed the test without any sort of prep.)

I have used my French a handful of times in my life. Apparently, I remembered enough to keep the shopkeepers in Paris from sneering at me or being rude to me. :wink: (Seriously, though, I experienced none of the stereotypical French rudeness you hear about.) In retrospect, though, I wish I had taken Spanish. I mean, I’ve picked up bits and pieces, but it’s so much more practical in my city and particular my neighborhood, which is around 80% Hispanic.

Six years of French, but it’s not a foreign language in Canada. Have used it regularly throughout my career, including arguing court cases in French.

The Latin definitely makes sense. When I went to high school the boys were required to take a year of it plus a language. The girls only had the other language requirement.

I agree and I’ve read that is the most sensible way to do it.

:blush: And you use it well my friend!

I think that is very cool. Maybe if I had stuck with it, idk. I just know in 2nd year French the teacher would give directions in French and ask the class, comprendez vous? We would all say non!

Good point, it makes me wonder, I know many Europeans speak English. Is it common in Europe to speak or at least have a basic understanding of other European languages. Not through school just because of the geography.

Northern Piper, is French, or in the case of those living in Quebec, English a requirement in Canadian schools?

If you learn a foreign language to a high level it can help protect you from the effects of Alzheimers

No word on whether there’s any effect at all from your two years of high school french, however…

Two years of high school Spanish. Then did not use it much for about fifteen years, save for a trip to Mexico. And then I went on a scuba diving vacation to San Andrés, Colombia. And there I met the now Mrs Iggy.

I remembered enough vocabulary to stumble though some conversations, but more importantly I remembered the grammar. A cheap translation dictionary and a lot of patience later and we ended up together. Y ahora hablo español diario.

I don’t think we were required to take a foreign language, but anyone on the college track did. I took 5 years of Spanish and use it every day. But I live in CA and interact with lost of Hispanics all the time, and some don’t speak English very well. Plus, I like to keep in practice.

Came in pretty helpful when I traveled in Spain. That seemed to be the one Western European country I went where not everyone spoke English. In Scandinavia, it was ridiculous. The kid pumping gas at the gas station spoke better English than I do. :slight_smile:

Seven years French, two years German, two years Latin.

The French and German have had their uses, mainly from a tourism perspective. But then I’m in Europe, where I’m more likely to get the chance to use them.

The Latin just makes me feel superior.

I’m not a teacher or expert or connected to the ministry for education that makes the Curriculum over here, which requires foreign languages.

I also think that the way modern languages were taught at School (at least in the 80s) was using the wrong Approach given what was known about language learning, that is, focusing on learning grammar rules, 80% of Translation from foreign language into native language, both of which hinder just speaking.

Nevertheless, the reason usually given is that learning a second language is that it helps you understand and think about languages in General. Sure, in your native language class you might discuss grammar rules, the differences between nouns and verbs, how to decline a verb, conjugate a noun, how many cases there are and what they express.
But in most cases, People don’t Need to understand it, because they speak their mother tongue without thinking, since that’s how they learned it.

By looking at a language which does things different - other verb forms; nouns having genders; more cases; … - you can compare and contrast.

Also, most language classes here (more than 2 years, though, since we start in 5th grade, nowadays some states start Basic English in Primary School because the earlier, the easier it is to learn a language*) don’t just teach the language. There will be lessons sprinkled in, with texts to read, about how People in the countries where the language is spoken live - often in textbooks by having a fictional Girl and Boy character adressing the Reader “Hey, I’m Anna, I’m Pierre, we’re going to Show you how we live in France”. This broadens cultural understanding, esp. for those children who live in very homogenic neighbourhoods, and don’t have much media contact yet with other cultures.

  • That’s another reason. Even if you don’t spend the next 10 years in France, having laid a groundwork in youth makes it a bit easier to pick up and expand later than never learning anything about French before you suddenly Need it.

That’s a pet peeve of mine. This is 2017, and there’s this Thing called the Internet. Back in the 1980s, if you lived outside a big town, you couldn’t easily buy foreign-language newspapers or books, and the only foreign-language countries easily accessible were Canada with a bit of French, and Mexico with Spanish; the neighboorhoods were Immigrants lived were expected to quickly learn English.

But today, once you are on the Internet, you can read newspapers online in French, order BDs in original from Amazon, get all the French novels in original you want via Amazon, and then Chat on French Forums about what you’ve read.
TV stations put Content online, Shows are Streaming, and DVDs with subtitles and several language Soundtracks can be bought on Amazon.
And there’s Tandem learning - you find a French Speaker with Internet and microphone/ Video camera, you speak French for 30 min. with him, he speaks English for 30 min. with you.
Skype means that it doesn’t cost a fortune to talk to People overseas. And so on.

If you are interested in keeping up or improving your language skills, it’s now easier than ever before, so the excuse of “Going to France is so expensive, rare and out of the way” isn’t really valid. (“I don’t have the time, energy and interest to learn French instead of pursuing my other Hobbies” is still a valid excuse, but a different kettle of fish).

In my freshman year of high school I started taking a French class. After a couple of weeks I decided to drop it, opting instead for a semester-long woodworking class, followed by a semester-long typing class. Both of those have been far more useful to me than I think a year of French ever would have been.