someone: Thank you for commenting. I wish you hadn’t remained anonymous, so I could address you better than that. But whatever.
In any case, I never said critical thinking was grammar and syntax. (I also never said it was grammar ANY syntax. But I’m assuming that was a typo). I said the things you are hoping to foster by teaching a single semester or even a year of a foreign language (the most that is required of any American college as a general education requirement that I am personally aware of) is an awareness of critical thinking, structures of grammar, communication and syntax. No one is reading classic literature (and poetry is a part of literature, not a separate subject) in the original french or japanese on a single year of study. Certainly not with any real ability to appreciate it.
As I said in the article, in theory, according to my academic transcripts, I “know” Spanish, French and Japanese, but to expect that I could critically understand any substantive text in any of those languages even a day after my final exam is ludicrous. No one reads the Tale of Genji in the original Japanese during after one year of study and very few people are reading Madame Bovary in the original French after that little.
As for my experience with classic literature and poetry… for the record, I am an English PhD student. I literally teach a class on literature (and another class on writing and critical thinking). I also have 20 years of experience designing computer software. So yeah, I do have a tiny bit of experience with these things.