Foreign Languages vs. Coding

Foreign Languages vs. Coding

Maya Fu, Website Editor

“Buenos días, buenos días, ¿cómo estás? ¿Cómo estás?” The two university students teaching my second grade Spanish class stand at the very front of the classroom, spreading their arms wide to mimic a rising sun. “¡Levántate, levántate!” they encourage, gesturing for us to stand and join them in their singing and dancing. Some of my earliest memories of elementary school are singing these songs in Spanish class (almost all to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle” or “Old MacDonald”) with those two teachers acting out and mouthing the words exaggeratedly almost to the point of it being funny. And while at the time, I did not understand the true importance of learning Spanish, or any language at all, I do now. 

Throughout the past decade, more and more people are beginning to question whether or not children should still be required to learn foreign languages in school. They argue, for example, that more and more jobs are in need of employees not with foreign language skills, but rather with at least a basic understanding of code and “computer language.” Many also contend that more and more of the world is turning to English. According to Visual Capitalist (3/26/21), 60.4% of all websites on the Internet are in English, making it the most popular language online. Furthermore, Learning how to code can often enhance problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. Wall Street Journal writer Andy Kessler also argued in his article “Learn a Language, but Not a Human one” (Wall Street Journal, 7/17/17) that a person who has taken a language only earns, on average, 2% more than a person who has not. 

However, although Kessler makes several good points, learning a foreign language is more important than learning to code. According to Auburn Liberal Arts, foreign language study creates positive attitudes and less prejudice towards people with different cultures and backgrounds. Skills like creativity can be increased, as well as analytical skills, problem solving skills, and dealing with abstract concepts. Foreign language study also enhances memory. Finally, four out of five new jobs in the United States are created as a result of foreign trade. 

Thus, learning a foreign language should take precedence over learning coding.