Computer Language Classes Cannot Teach the Communications Skills Kids Learn in Foreign Language Classes

While many of us were busy enjoying the onset of spring weather, the Texas State Board of Education quietly adopted criteria that threaten the quality of public education in Texas.In April, high school graduation requirements were changed to allow advanced computer science courses to replace foreign language instruction. Previously, students needed to fulfill a LOTE (languages other than English) requirement before graduating from high school. Now, those who enroll in an advanced placement or international baccalaureate class in computer science can use that course to fulfill the requirement.Computer science has its place in high school education. Students interested in science and technology careers can gain experience in coding and applied mathematics. However, computer science is not a language. Those who suggest coding is similar to human language fail to consider the complexities of human communication. Communication isn't simply strings of words; it's intonation, body language and sometimes humorous double meanings. Developing a better awareness of these communication skills is necessary for preparing all high school students to be successful in any field — including those seeking careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In fact, with students spending so much time hiding behind screens, our curriculum needs to encourage more meaningful interactions. This is what foreign language can do for our students.In foreign language classes, students learn to become better communicators. Learning a new language forces students to cope with the vulnerability of expressing themselves with fewer resources. When students work with a new language, they start to see how they can use their nonverbal skills, such as body language and facial expressions, to help them convey meaning.   Continue reading...

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