OPINION: Americans should be bilingual


Bella Lantz, Opinion Writer

Classes are constantly changing at public schools. Even though many classes are being added or taken away, there are still core subjects that remain within U.S. public schools. These four staple subjects are math, English, science and social studies. In other countries, foreign language, specifically English, is a core subject. This is because English is the number one language in the world. Spanish is the fourth language and is spoken in 20 countries in the Americas and in Africa. With the U.S. having more Spanish speakers than Spain, why is Spanish not taken as seriously in the public school system as it should be?

Most public schools within the U.S. and other countries have foreign language requirements. North Carolina requires students to take two foreign language classes in order to graduate. There are 142 countries where learning English is mandatory and in 41 countries, learning English to cover a foreign language requirement is possible but not necessary. The main dilemma for high schools in the U.S. not taking foreign language classes seriously is because of future jobs. In many countries, English is taught and learned due to the ever-increasing jobs that require English. Germany is an example of this by investing 5% of their total GDP towards English language education, because it has over 4,500 jobs that require English. This is why English is coveted in other countries. The issue is that U.S. job sites are not keeping the same standards. The schools should convey the need for bilingual speakers and the possibility of increased pay.

In 2015, jobs in the U.S. were looking for bilingual speakers and, due to the demand,  60% of those openings went to unqualified workers. In 2016, there was a high demand for global positions that had foreign language requirements and 23% of the people hired were inadequate for the job. There are a plethora of jobs that need bilingual speakers, and yet these jobs are not holding their hiring staff and employees to their standards. Americans know that jobs are willing to bend their ways, so no American feels the need to learn another language. If all jobs were to keep their job requirements, schools would have to start tidying up their foreign language education. The issue does not only lie far in the future, but could also be traced back to college years.

English is taken more seriously in other countries’ colleges than U.S. colleges due to the number of international students studying within the U.S. In 2021-22, over 945,000 international students came to study at U.S. colleges and universities. In 2018-19, there were a total of 347,099 students that studied abroad with 55% ending up in Europe. It is evident that these European countries treasure English, therefore Americans that travel to these European countries do not have to learn another language to succeed. Foreign language classes should be taken more seriously, so American students would have more opportunities around the globe, instead of being restricted due to language barriers.

If schools were to advertise the importance of learning a foreign language, there would be  many more opportunities for people around the world. The fact that foreign language classes are not taken seriously should reflect on how selfish of a country the U.S. is. American citizens let the rest of the world learn their language, so that they do not have to adapt. Even though there are little to no cons with learning a foreign language, people are not taught or given the opportunity to see the benefits of being bilingual. Hopefully, the U.S. decides to make foreign language classes important amongst schools and Americans alike.