In conclusion, I have written a letter to Chapman University’s Chancellor, Daniele Struppa.
Dear Chancellor Struppa,
While I admire the mission of Chapman University to promote the learning and growth of the global citizen, I cannot help but wonder how Chapman students can truly be classified as such without the lasting knowledge of knowing and retaining a foreign language. Despite English being adopted internationally as the language of business and technology, the drive for students to learn another language is lacking. Through the learning and practicing of another language, one not only appreciates other cultures from a new perspective but bridges the gap between two worlds while increasing one’s worth as an employee.
I recognize that in comparison to other American colleges and universities, Chapman University places a higher emphasis on foreign language; however, why settle and remain stagnant? I propose that you raise the foreign language requirement from 201 to a 300 level class.
Despite the current Generation Y’s reputation of being entitled and demanding of instant gratification, I beg you to push aside their complaints to this proposal and give the Chapman students the best education possible. Use this change as an incentive for students to go abroad and practice what they have learned.
Through recent studies, scientists and neurologists have concluded that being bilingual increases one’s brain mass and improves their ability to carry out tasks and recall faster than those that speak only one language.
In regards to languages, if you don’t use it, you lose it, and then how can students truthfully call themselves a global citizen?
English has become one of the world’s most popular language. While most people think that about half of the world speaks English, reports show that only about 22 percent speak English. Despite this upper hand for Americans, one of the best proven ways of improving one’s English is through learning another language.
Through learning another language, people are forced to learn new sentence structure and examine a new way of thinking. After having to write in another language, people are more specific and are able to think more clearly in stringing together thoughts and sentences. (1) Through increasing the foreign language requirement, Chapman University would not just be students’ skills, in one language but two.
English has become the language of business and technology. With this known fact comes the common question (by native English speakers), why should I learn another? Despite the business and technological standard, employers are eager to hire bilingual employees.
Throughout various career building tip blogs and articles such as a post on CareerBuilder.com, “in nearly every field and profession, from financial services to sales, there is a growing need to multilingual candidates.” Yet despite the large number of Spanish speakers, particularly in states closer to the Mexican border, employers are looking out for candidates who can speak other languages as well. Companies that have offices and clients throughout the world seek employees who can speak languages from Russian to German, French and Mandarin. Job seekers who speak Japanese, Chinese and Mandarin are becoming a hot commodity among employers, particularly on the West Coast.
Not only are bilingual skills helpful in the job market, graduates who are fluent in a second language are finding that they have an extra edge during job interviews. While bilingual skills aren’t always required to land good jobs, many companies prefer to hire candidates with this added dimension.
To sell goods and services to a multicultural market, corporations must hire people who understand the language and culture of their clients and their vendors. (1)
In comparing the European school system with America’s, I noticed a few discrepancies. While America excels in certain fields, we lack in one that can affect our country’s future- foreign language. While each country throughout the European continent is different, the one thing that is the same is desire to learn another language. European youth learns and can speak at least two languages fluently by the time they are 18.
Although this trend of being multilingual is not enforced by law, it is a common practice within many families. Throughout Europe it is common to for families to hire a nanny solely to speak to the child in a different language (generally English due to them already knowing another.
In comparison to other American universities, Chapman holds its students to a higher standard with language. Although our standard is higher, that is not to say it could or should go without improving or revising. Much like UCLA, where an article was published in the student newspaper, students are demanding more out of their education and asking for more encouragement to pursue studying foreign languages. (1)
Study abroad is a once and a lifetime experience that enables students to live and learn in another country outside of their comfort zone and culture. Chapman University advocates this experience to its students, and for good reason. Upon returning from being abroad this past semester, I have noted multiple changes within myself and my perception of the American culture. I chose to study in Madrid, Spain, a decision that was influenced having studied Spanish for most of my life. Despite the numerous classes I had taken throughout high school and while at Chapman, I found that I could not honestly call myself fluent. I had hopes of immersing myself in the culture and returning fluent. When I first told this to my friends, many responded with the question, “but don’t a lot of people speak English there?” Contrary to their belief, no.
I was pleased to find that Madrid offered Spaniards that were as proud of their language and preferred speaking it, as Americans are of English. Most of the older generation that I encountered there knew very little English, while the younger generation spoke it more fluently. In addition to English, many of my classmates spoke other languages as well. As a student in a foreign country, I received better service and was treated better than the stubborn Americans who refused to learn or practice their Spanish. While they were able to get by with pointing and charades, they lacked experiencing the hospitality I enjoyed throughout my trip.
Going abroad and being able to converse in that country’s language contributes to a much more positive experience. If Chapman students were to take what they have learned in the classroom and apply it with locals, they would not only strengthen their languages but appreciate their overall education and study abroad experience.
Chapman University was founded in 1861 and since then has undergone numerous changes resulting in its current elevated status. With every new class comes new expectations and new issues to face within our society and internationally. Every incoming class varies from the previous and comes with a higher expectation of what college should be like. What was once sufficient to be considered a global citizen is now outdated.
Chapman University costs roughly $50,000 a year depending on a student’s housing and living costs, with tuition raising every year. With this elevated price on our education and overall college experience, it is only fair that students receive the best experience and highest caliber of education. While college is designed to allow students to grow as individuals and make their own decisions without their parents constantly being all over their backs, Chapman should push students past their limits. College is not meant to be easy but (at times a) difficult learning process about one’s self, the world, and academics.
I acknowledge that this change in language requirement can and will most likely be met with some opposition; but, Chapman is not an institution where students come and pay for their grades and degrees. It has to be earned. Generation Y (those born between 1978 and 1997) is said to be the “entitled” and instant gratification generation. How many times have you heard students say, “I’m not paying 50,000 dollars to… have the last registration time (even though they are freshman or sophomores), wait in this long line, etc.? Though realizing the world is not about one’s self seems harder for my generation (myself included at times), it is time for Chapman to step up and push its students past their comfort zone.
The human brain is divided into two hemispheres, the right and left. The right side of the brain controls one’s creative thinking and expression while the left is used for mathematical and logical thinking. In regards to learning another language, both sides of the brain are used, switching from right to left. (1)
Throughout our daily activities the brain works to carry out every action and decision. The amount to which humans use their brains, thus working it out, in addition to the care provided for it (amounts of sleep) all factor into our brain densities. Recent studies conducted by Andrea Mechelli of London’s Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience and colleagues, including experts from the Fondazione Santa Lucia in Rome, concluded that the bilingual brain develops more densely, giving it an advantage in various abilities and skills. (2)
Further studies have also proven that through learning and maintaining another language, people are less likely to get dementia and Alzheimers disease. (3)
Research has proven that although language is thought to be mediated by functional changes in the brain, they show that being bilingual structurally changes the brain. Their study shows the effect was strongest in people who had learned a second language before age 5 and that through continued practice of the language the brain continued to develop at a higher percent. (2)
The longer students are exposed to foreign languages through the extended requirement will continue to shape their brain development and improve their ability to memorize information and be able to adapt to changes quicker.