Foreign language classes should be required at Lewis

Jesse Drake, Opinions Editor

The Latin American community is the fastest growing ethnic population in the Chicago area. As of the most recent census, over 22 percent of the metropolitan area came from a Latino background, with 17 percent of that population coming from Mexico alone. Traditional food, media, culture and even holidays from Latin America has made its way to this part of the country and is slowly becoming part of the “melting pot” of the entire country.  

When asking around campus, though, it is unlikely to find very many people who aren’t of Latino heritage who speak Spanish. How can a culture truly be accepted here unless those who share such ancestry can communicate with others? 

This is not meant to hold general education requirements hostage as examples where schools could do better to cut down on ignorance, but there is no doubt that learning a foreign language makes a person more marketable and better in certain social interactions. 

A study done by Auburn University found that four out of five new jobs are actually created as a result of foreign trade, so in an increasingly more globalized world, new members of the workforce could be left in the dust if they have no knowledge of any language besides English. 

For business majors, knowing Chinese can be incredibly instrumental in moving up the corporate ladder. For cyber security majors, understanding Russian could also grant that person a good job or promotion. 

There are specific possibilities for several other kinds of students at Lewis.  

For most high schools, foreign language classes are a necessity for a student to graduate, especially if they expect academic honors. 

This has certainly helped with expanding the number of non-Latino population’s ability to speak Spanish, and possibly even helped develop understandings of the immigrant populations from countries that speak German, Chinese, French and several other languages that are commonly taught.  

It’s also interesting to look into how learning a different language could heal this country politically. There is no doubt that Latino Americans are one of the most discriminated ethnic groups in this country, mostly because of a lack experience that others have with members of the Latino community. Normalizing their familial language into American culture would bridge that gap and dissuade the fear many have of Latino cultures. 

The same could be said for other languages as well, like Russian or Arabic. In the current political environment, certain people’s native tongue can land them a label as the enemy or a threat. 

Understanding their language, and then understanding who that person is and what they’ve been through, just leads to better neighbors and a more peaceful community 

This is not easy. In fact, many bilingual people would admit that learning a new language was one of the most difficult things they have ever done. However, they would also say it was worth the effort for all the doors it opened for them. 

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