The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

93° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Head to Head: Second Language unproductive timesink

There are a few things that make me extremely nervous: having to make a left turn across several lanes of traffic, talking to a beautiful woman that I’m attracted to and being called on in French class. I love French class. The instructor is amazing, the students are a lovely bunch, but when I’m called on to answer a question or asked to speak more than one sentence in French, it’s disastrous. 

It left me wondering, why does anyone who doesn’t major in a particular foreign language have to take four semesters of it? I’m a double major in English and Religious Studies and I must take four semesters of a foreign language. 

I originally took French because I thought it would help me woo a woman. That’s a terrible idea, but like most things in life­—music in particular—having an appeal to the female population is a strong motivator.

My first French class last semester, I went in thinking I would be fluent at the end of French 101. I was given a rude awakening when I was told that it would take many courses and even years to be fluent in the said language.

Usually, one has to live in a country where very little to no English is spoken in order to become fluent. Then why would the university make anyone take a language that they’ll slowly but surely forget over time?

Tuition costs thousands of dollars and though it’s fun learning it now, I’m going to be pretty frustrated in a few years when nearly all of the French language have left me, unless I live overseas or spend day and night speaking the language.

I would much rather have spent the same tuition money on a course of something that I was interested in, or on a course that I know nothing about to see if there’s an interest in there that will help me decide what major I’d like to pursue.

The only people who should have to take four semesters of a foreign language are those who plan on majoring in it or those who need language as an intensive portion of their major. Engineering students should also have a vested interest in learning a new language. 

A lot of engineers will potentially work in a foreign country or with coworkers who speak English as a second language and would vastly benefit from speaking another language. 

However, even that is a stretch, since they have to take 128 units, as opposed to the average student who has 120.

“Students cannot take four semesters of a language and complete an engineering degree in 128 units. Let’s be realistic,” said Barry D. Ganapol, a professor in the department of aerospace and mechanical engineering.

This brings me back to my original point: the only people who should take four semesters are those who are majoring in the actual language. Everyone else will either forget the language after graduating or never truly learn the language since they never lived overseas and will have a huge bill from the UA when they’re all done.

I am enjoying learning French and I hope to heck that I’m not one of the many who simply forget it once I graduate.

I haven’t wooed a woman yet, but with my handsome good looks, if I become confident in speaking French and knees buckle, I’ll change my stance. Until then, please leave it to the ones who are majoring in it.

Follow Daniel Geffre on Twitter.

More to Discover
Activate Search