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The Abandonment of Foreign Languages at Saint Vincent College

By Tyler Overmier

Recently, it was announced that Saint Vincent College would be constructing a new core curriculum for the incoming freshman class in the fall of 2021. This new core curriculum includes fewer required classes. The “liberal arts” that have long been valued by Saint Vincent College are now in jeopardy.

There are a plethora of problems associated with this new core that question the liberal arts aspect of the school. The most considerable problem related to the new core is the complete abandonment of the Modern and Classical Languages Department at Saint Vincent College. With this new core curriculum, Saint Vincent College undermined the importance of keeping the foreign language requirement. No longer will students be required to take a foreign language (whether it be Spanish, French, German, Italian, Latin, or even Chinese). Saint Vincent College has neglected to look at the statistics regarding the importance of foreign language amongst students in America.

Learning a second language allows students to broaden their horizons to learn and gain an appreciation for different cultures and languages. Without learning about the importance of other cultures around the world, are students truly becoming educated? Without learning a foreign language, are students really equipped for the real world? With the age of acceptance in the workforce, why do educational institutions like Saint Vincent not see a need for students to learn a language other than their native tongue? Is Saint Vincent content with the idea that students should not be culturally educated? Saint Vincent College takes pride in how it prepares students for the future—but are students prepared for the future if they cannot connect with anybody except English speakers? Is Saint Vincent College OK with the fact that Americans are behind the world in terms of bilingualism?

The United States of America is far behind almost every country in terms of foreign language studies. In most countries, the educational system requires students to be bilingual (or even trilingual) so that they will succeed in their future career and social endeavors. Other countries around the world look down on the United States for Americans solely being able to speak English. It is quite uncommon for students in America to know a language other than English. This has become an enormous problem. The American educational establishment does not require students to be bilingual, which leads them into a world that they will not be able to connect with others who cannot speak English. In a country that is known for its cross-cultural background, why can Americans only speak one language? If Saint Vincent College was passionate about exposing students to different cultures and ideas, why would they put little emphasis on foreign language in the new core?

I have become fluent in Spanish at Saint Vincent College through the foreign language department. After taking both of my Spanish core classes, I gained a love for studying new languages and chose to add a Spanish minor. Also, having to take two foreign language classes as part of my core curriculum allowed for a different perspective than my business classes could offer. Upon becoming fluent in Spanish, I can now connect with immigrants and families in my hometown of Crofton, Maryland. Within the year that I have gained fluency, I have been able to translate and interpret for Spanish-speaking citizens in my neighborhood and community. I attained the knowledge and understood the importance of being bilingual in a country that hosts so many different languages. After all, the United States is a melting pot for all different cultures and languages. So, I must ask again, is Saint Vincent College preparing students for their futures with the new core?

America is known to be a country that represents opportunity and acceptance. How are Americans being accepting of immigrants and other cultures if the educational system shows little importance for foreign language studies? How will students succeed in their career paths if they cannot communicate with people outside their language?

If Saint Vincent College still asserts that it is a liberal arts college, then the administration must revisit the decision to terminate the foreign language requirements in the core curriculum. With the lack of the foreign language requirements in the new core at Saint Vincent College, students will not be exposed to a diverse understanding of cultures other than their own. The importance of foreign language in educational institutions is colossal, and the fact that Saint Vincent College seems to be downplaying its importance is very worrying.

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