Foreign Language Education Is A Waste Of Second Language Essay

820 Words 4 Pages
Problem/Solution
Bryan Caplan, Professor of Economics at George Mason University and oft-referenced expert in the field, does not believe that foreign language requirements are worthwhile. His analyses of the General Social Survey, in 'The Numbers Speak: Foreign Language Requirements Are a Waste of Time and Money ', are unflattering. Though he does not deny that there is a significant benefit for some, he finds foreign language education standards something of a novelty as less than one percent of students who receive foreign language instruction go on to become fluent. His reason given is that 'Lots of stuff that sounds good isn 't worth doing. ' A short glance at several other articles of his reveals that though his high school German class was not very effective, he is actively
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Secondarily, the law of diminishing returns (according to Caplan) means that the little resources currently invested in foreign language education would have to be exponentially greater to have any visible effect. Granted that current investments in foreign language education are meagre and ill-used, the economic and cognitive benefits are statistically significant. Looking only at fluency skews the picture as far as overall worth (ie. value of foreign language education) is concerned. Caplan does allow himself to lower the fluency bar, his reaction to those who speak a foreign language 'well ' is equally unimpressed. Only 2.5% of those surveyed responded they felt confident in their foreign language skills. He goes on to give what he calls a free economics lesson which culminates in his third objection, that '[f]oreign language fluency is more common in other countries for a reason. ' Caplan suggests plainly that (for Americans) foreign language study does not help one get jobs, meet interesting people, or enjoy culture. Though the second two are entirely subjective superficially the notion that job hunters do not benefit from foreign language

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