The Benefits of Hall Adding Studying a Foreign Language to the Graduation Requirements


Chen Lao Shi (Daisy Laone)

Chinese Teacher, Chen Lao Shi with her happy and packed 2018-2019 Chinese I Class.

Jessica Berman, Editor-in-Chief of Hall Highlights


Prior to Hall’s class of 2023, students were not required to take a single credit of a foreign language. This may be a surprise for some as many students opt in to take one (or more) of Hall’s six foreign language offerings. Even though many students decide to take a foreign language class anyways, it is beneficial that Hall officially made foreign language classes a requirement to graduate as the ramifications of knowing another language are highly valuable. 

For starters, having a secondary language under your belt is more significant than ever as our world is increasingly globalized. According to Hall Chinese teacher, Chen Lao Shi, “…in the global industry, knowing a foreign language increases chances of success substantially.” An article from Pennsylvania State University similarly articulates that “…it has become even more essential in the job market to know another language…having fluency in another language gives an edge on any resume by showing employers potential to converse with an entirely different group of people.” 

If it is known that skills in a foreign language give you a leg-up amongst other candidates, why wouldn’t studying a foreign language be a graduation requirement? After all, Hall’s goal is to see their students flourish and them adding a foreign language requirement definitely makes that goal more tangible. 

Laone also noted that “employers seek out bilingual candidates for a wide variety of positions,” which was further supported by an article from University of California—Los Angeles. In this article, Los Angeles pediatrician, Michelle Aguila, emphasizes that being bilingual enables her to effectively communicate with and help more patients. In the article, Dr. Aguila also advises individuals looking into studying medicine to learn a foreign language on the earlier side as medical school is very time consuming in itself. 

Now, I may be getting a little ahead of myself with all of this workforce talk. Why don’t I mention something a little more relevant to this demographic: standardized testing. Yes, a sore subject for some, but fear not—data has shown that studying a foreign language can boost test scores. 

According to data from the College Board, studying an alternate language is linked to improved SAT scores. The College Board more specifically stated that students who have studied a foreign language for greater than two years generally score higher than those who have stopped taking a foreign language after two years. Perhaps Hall should consider making the foreign language requirement greater than one credit, but for now we should be grateful for the mandatory one credit addition.  

Although, there are valid counterclaims regarding the addition of a foreign language requirement. For example, Hall Latin teacher, Mr. Crabb stated that he is “…concerned about students who have anxiety over taking a language. I would like to see some language alternatives put in place, like a course on just Latin and Greek roots in English.” While evidence shows that it is beneficial to study a foreign language, we must take into account the implications of requiring students to study a foreign language for two semesters. 

Another reason why it is beneficial that Hall added one credit of foreign language to the graduation requirements is because in most countries, individuals begin learning a second language in middle school. According to the same Pennsylvania State University article, “in the United States about 9% of the population is multilingual, whereas in Europe 52.7% of the population is multilingual.” 

Communication whether it be in the workforce or simply walking down the street is key. It is of high importance that the rate of Americans knowing a secondary language rises so that we can communicate with as many people as possible. The fact that not many American high schools require students to study a foreign language can be portrayed as ignorant. For America to truly live up to its nickname, the “melting pot,” more Americans must know a secondary language.

Personally, I am very excited that Hall added studying a foreign language to the graduation requirements. As an individual that has taken both Spanish and Chinese classes here at Hall, I can attest that the skills learned in my foreign language classes have helped me outside of the classroom. For example, I was able to give directions to a lost, native Chinese speaker here in West Hartford Center. That was a very gratifying experience because I was able to use my language skills from the classroom in a real life scenario.

I applaud Hall for adding one credit of foreign language to the graduation requirements. It is clear that knowing another language is beneficial in a plethora of ways. The next graduation requirement I would like to see added is financial literacy, but again, let’s first appreciate this significant (and needed) addition of a foreign language requirement.