For decades, public schools have been teaching a few languages, but as the world changes, language education seems to change very slowly, if at all. Most schools teach Spanish, which is a great choice because of the large number of Spanish speakers all over the world. However, there are other languages that schools teach that are spoken around the world, but they are not as prevalent in the new global community as others are.
Prepare Students for the Global Economy
Schools that want to set their students ahead of the curve should begin offering classes in Arabic and Hindi, and other languages that are prevalent all over the world. While English is taught in schools all over the world, schools that teach native English speakers need to open courses in Arabic. This is one of the most widely spoken languages around the world and since the United States does so much trade with countries that have Arabic as their main language, we need to educate more students on this language.
Pick the Prevalent Languages
The other common languages that are taught in American schools include French and German. There are still schools that teach Latin, even though no one officially uses Latin as their language. However, learning the structure of Latin does better prepare students to learn languages that have Latin as a base language – like Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese. It does seem a bit “old school” to continue to teach Latin as a language to high school students, because the only students who will use Latin in their future are the students who will work in law, religion, or languages. The remaining majority of the students will never have to think about this dead language ever again. The rest of the commonly taught languages, like French and German, may be useful if you travel to Canada or Germany, but there is not much use for them outside of a few limited areas.
Business and Military Needs
On the flipside, Arabic is spoken in the Middle East and Northern Africa. Recent graduates from high school and college who can speak Arabic and English are in extremely high demand today. Whether those bilingual speakers are used in the military or in private business, the fact remains that an incredibly amount of communication happens on a daily basis with very few interpreters to manage the load. If a student chooses to learn Arabic and is dedicated to mastering the language, that student will be able to find a lucrative job working anywhere in the world.
Hindi is an Important Language
Along with Arabic, schools need to offer courses in Hindi. The fact that this language is spoken all over India makes it an important for continued communication between American English speakers and native Indians. While many well-educated Indians who speak Hindi master English, it is important that English speakers can communicate with Hindi speakers to show that those English-speaking people have respect for other cultures and languages.
Where to Begin
Where does this shift in language education begin? It needs to begin in three places: businesses, universities, and high schools. Businesses that are invested in the Middle East and India need to involve universities by sharing their exact needs for proficient communicators in Arabic, Hindi, and even Mandarin. Once the universities know what businesses (and even government agencies) need, they can develop programs to create graduates who can meet those needs. Universities can develop education programs so that students can begin learning those languages in earlier grades when it is easier to learn a language due to brain development.