FORUM 2: No. Bilingualism is desirable, but not essential | Opinion
But it is not clear if these benefits are really lasting. A recent meta-analysis of bilingual education, published in Psychological Bulletin, concluded that “the available evidence does not provide systematic support for the widely held notion that bilingualism is associated with benefits in cognitive control functions in the adults “.
But while there are great benefits to bilingualism or the lifelong study of Latin that was once common, they have little to do with current campus practice.
The current three-semester requirement is not a serious effort to encourage bilingualism. The first three lessons in any foreign language are necessarily very basic. Students will work on basic vocabulary, regular verbs and simple sentences. Almost everything will be in the present tense.
And that’s only if students study a language that uses the Latin alphabet. Three semesters of Mandarin Chinese, or any language with a foreign alphabet, only scratches the surface.
And in a world of Google Translate and Duolingo, the practical benefits of learning a little bit of conversation in French or Spanish in college are not what they used to be. Anyone who wants to learn basic travel phrases and phrases to help them navigate on a continental vacation can easily do so in a matter of weeks on the internet.
In view of the low return on foreign language courses, it makes more sense to devote the three semesters now occupied by foreign languages to other subjects.