This is a neck and neck debate that has continued for many years and still has not come to a solid conclusion. According to statistics, 47% of people believe that’s an essential part of life that students should learn Spanish while in school while 53% do not. As I said, it’s neck and neck and has been for a long time. But why is this such a debated issue?
In the UK, French and German classes are taught as part of the national curriculum in secondary schools, as well as multiple other languages such as Spanish, Chinese and Portuguese being taught as optional extras. However, in the US, there is no ‘forced’ foreign languages to be found on the timetables. In today’s fast-paced, developing and highly connected world, some would argue that learning another language is a necessity for students to become more cultured while gaining the ability to connect with other people from around the globe effortlessly.
But why Spanish, I hear you ask. Well, referring to the UK timetables, Germany and France are both highly diverse countries that are physically close and easily accessible to students of the UK, so it just makes sense. Regarding the US, neighboring countries including Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and other countries, all of which have a clear majority that speaks Spanish (or some variation of it).
Furthermore, without even leaving the US, there are over 37 million fluent Spanish speakers living in the US, making it the most commonly spoken foreign language in the country. This is a 233% increase from 1980. In fact, more people speak Spanish in the US than they do in Spain itself. Surely it only makes sense that students should have the ability to communicate, even on a basic level with these individuals since the chances are that they’ll come into contact with them at some point in their lives?
One of the most counter-arguments is that students should, and do, have the ability to learn any language that they choose. With online learning programs, apps and Spanish classes, the opposing sides simply states that if a student wanted to learn a foreign language, such as Spanish, then they would. However, it’s unknown exactly how many students have access to these programs, especially through education facilities.
Some others argue that speaking Spanish helps students to gain more opportunities when it comes to job hunting and to moving abroad which provokes the counter-argument that, again, students would learn Spanish on their own terms if they were interested in moving to a Spanish-speaking country.
As you can see, this a well-balanced argument with good points on both sides. In regards to resources and government funding, it doesn’t seem as though the US government will be funding any Spanish classes anytime soon, so it seems to be up to the individuals to find ways to educate themselves.