More than a Graduation Requirement

By Staff Writer Elyanna Calle

Graphics by Jake Smith and Ryan Macumber

There are two types of people in foreign language classes. There are those who take the class to meet the graduation requirements, and then there are the ones who are there to learn a language. Timberline offers classes in French, German, and Spanish. All students are required to take at least two consecutive years of the same foreign language. While some students do more than what is required for graduation, most students will not move on to the third level of that language. However, these students will miss out on the multitude of benefits and opportunities of learning a foreign language, which can often be overlooked.

Junior Hannah Kudlich is in her third year of learning French because she hopes to study abroad. ¨In the future you can travel, speak with the people, learn new cultures and really get to experience the world in a much different light.¨

Other students, like senior Ishi Agrawal, a Spanish 4 student, is learning a language to connect with more people. It is increasingly common to cross paths with non-English speakers, and knowing a second language can open up more communication. “You become more open to ideas, you become more open to different perspectives, and you see that there’s actually a lot of similarities between different cultures than you would expect,” said Agrawal.

Being bilingual also provides benefits in the professional world such as numerous job possibilities. “Americans who are monolingual, that leaves us at a disadvantage. Speaking another language is something that gives you important skills for possible careers, and opens your opportunities,” said French teacher Erin Feltman. In addition to this, students who take a third or fourth level language class are able to take the STAMP exam and receive the seal of biliteracy on their diploma.

Agrawal believes continuing education in a language will provide a more holistic experience.“The two year graduation requirement doesn’t give you enough speaking skills to be able to communicate with a person… It doesn’t teach you that much about the culture, when you get into Spanish 3 and 4, they put more of an emphasis on culture.”

Micaela Byington, a former Spanish 4 student who is now fluent in Spanish, has met many new people, and has made new friends due to her ability to speak Spanish. “It’s easier to break down barriers and walls when you are willing to speak in [another] language…it brings people together.” said Byington.

The numerous advantages awarded from language fluency are only received by those who continue in the program. A language is more than just words or a box to check on a high school transcript, it is a doorway into being a more academically, socially and culturally educated person.

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