So I’ve mentioned before that I’m taking a class on the meaning of literacy, writing and publishing in a digital world (conveniently called “Digital Writing” because why not?). We were discussing a few articles in class this week that basically ask the question, why don’t writers (and for the sake of this conversation, we’ll define writers as English majors) write code. This created kind of a side conversation that I’ve been kicking around in my head and I’m curious how other people feel about it.
It is common practice in a lot of schools to REQUIRE students to take a foreign language. Blah blah blah, helps build critical thinking skills blah blah makes you a better citizen of the world blah blah “What do you call someone who only speaks on language… an American.” I know that in junior high and high school I took Spanish. In college, I took Japanese. I don’t think CMU required EVERYONE to take a foreign language, but there might have been a requirement for humanities students, so that might have been why I took it (I honestly don’t remember). I know Duquesne requires all of their undergrads (regardless of major) to take a foreign language, and they’re certainly not the only school that does that. Furthermore, as a requirement to get a PhD, I had to take a foreign language again.
So according to my academic transcripts throughout my life, I currently speak Spanish, Japanese, and French. Of course, I actually don’t speak any of them. At least not anymore.
Some schools do require at least some level of computer programming. Again, at CMU, I was required to take at least an into class (15-127 back then). But that wasn’t schoolwide, it depended on major, just like foreign languages.
So I’m curious about few things: were you REQUIRED to take a foreign language at any level of your schooling (elementary through college)? What about a programming class? Which has been more useful? And would it make sense to make them interchangeable (for most students)?