Does My Child Need Four Years of a Language?
By Karen Deger McChesney, Contributing Writer
Should my child take four years of a foreign language in high school? Her school only offers three years of Latin, the language she wants to study, but I don't want her to sabotage her chances of getting into a good college by not taking four years of a language if that's now the standard that most colleges expect.
First and foremost, your child needs to talk to her high school counselor. They are the experts with the latest information on high school requirements for college-bound students. They know the quickest, easiest ways to access such information and work closely with each student to ensure that they are fulfilling a sufficient number of credit hours.
Here are a few suggested questions for your daughter to ask her counselor:
- What basic academic courses do you recommend for students who want to go to college?
- What elective courses do you recommend for college-bound students?
Secondly, I recommend that your child start doing her own research, such as checking Web sites for state colleges/universities as well as for selective, small schools and private institutions. This will help her learn the different foreign language requirements. Every college/university is a little bit different, so she will find some require four years of foreign language and others only require two. State schools, for instance, often have a different foreign language requirement for each major - some majors require three years of foreign language while others require only two. Whereas, most selective, liberal arts schools require three years of foreign language.
Your child's choice of major and college will ultimately determine if she needs four years of foreign language in high school. Your daughter has several viable options to help her complete a fourth year of Latin in high school. She can take a fourth year of Latin at a community college (very common for juniors and seniors in high school), in summer school, or perhaps even at another high school. Depending on her choice of major and college, she will have an opportunity to demonstrate her foreign language proficiency through the college's foreign language exam.
The best rule of thumb: High school students should start taking a foreign language in ninth grade and continue with the same foreign language for three to four years (and avoid switching to a different language). Keep in mind that college admission encompasses many factors, well beyond just high school foreign language requirements. They want to see that you are curious, that you are willing to work, and that you really want to learn.
Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.