Date of Award
School of Unrestricted Education
Dr. Grace Veach
In the past half-century, Americans have had ongoing issues with foreign language instruction. Around 1970, the number of foreign language classes began to decline, and funding slowly began to disappear. Although some proficiency tests and requirements have been put in place, no nationwide requirements for foreign language instruction exist for public high schools. The foreign language requirements for entrance into college used to be more prevalent and followed, but studies have shown that 84% of four-year schools do not require foreign language credits (The History of Foreign Language Education in the United States Timeline 1). Because of this lack of regulation and consistency, the U.S. government should change the foreign language requirements for graduation through a federally enacted legislative mandate. This mandate would effectively make Americans more hospitable, increase alignment with needs for life after high school, impact America’s diverse economy, improve diplomacy and foreign relations, and strengthen the health of Americans who are bilingual.
To achieve these benefits, a national mandate requiring high school students become fluent in at least one foreign language must be enacted. The national mandate requires students in public schools to complete at least four years of the same foreign language study, so that students graduate high school being able to speak and understand a foreign language. Because the mandate requires fluency, the plan will address who is determining “fluency,” how fluency will be measured, and how the mandate will be funded.
A federal mandate for foreign language instruction is necessary in order to make Americans more hospitable, increase alignment with needs for life after high school, impact America’s diverse economy, improve diplomacy and foreign relations, and strengthen the health of Americans who are bilingual.
Youmans, Elizabeth M., "The Necessity of Second Language Learning" (2020). Classical Conversations. 13.