well, that really comes back to what I was saying as to the purpose of the requirement. Assuming there is a requirement. I’d argue that for someone studying Literature and/or Culture(which I am specifically saying, because naming the major English is kind of misleading) what you really want is to give them the tools to engage in critical knowledge of symbols. French is a good way to do that. But so is Java. And frankly, so is Art History. *I* think that the main reason we say French (or some other language) is historic.
But that’s just for English majors. Why are we requiring mandatory language instruction in general (say at a High School level). We certainly don’t expect lifelong fluency (or if we do, then we have been failing as an educational system for generations). Is Spanish (or French or Japanese or whatever) really a more useful skill to the average American citizen than Java? I’d honestly say either of them is less useful than cooking.