Kentucky Senate passes bill to let computer programming satisfy foreign-language requirement

I think this is a brilliant move. For some students, taking a foreign language in school is important. It broadens the mind, exposes people to a culture wider than that in which they were raised. I’ve got no problem with the requirement.

On the flip side, many schools force you to make a choice. You have a limit to the number of elective courses you may take and there are times when a student must choose between taking an elective course like computer programming and a required language class.

For kids who feel the calling, being able to take a computer science course in high school will change their lives. Well done Kentucky.

  • I beg to differ. As someone who grew up in the US, and who has lived in Europe for 30 years, I have seen how the lack of foreign languages skills in the US has crippled Americans. Learning a foreign language is valuable in so many ways. C++ is not a foreign language.

  • Lukas

    I don’t see how this could possibly be a good thing.

    Kids should be required to learn at least one foreign language. Studies show that knowing a foreign language has many benefits, among them the fact that it improves your English.

    Kids should also be required to learn how to program, because code rules our modern lives. It’s important to understand how computers work.

    But a programming language is not a substitute for a foreign language — and vice versa. You wouldn’t teach French in a Computer Science class, and you shouldn’t teach Pascal instead of Spanish, either.

  • Paul Chernoff

    As someone who could not pass a foreign language requirement in college (failed Latin, French and Spanish, I did manage 3 years of Latin in high school) I do not agree with the Kentucky Senate, even though it would have helped me through college. Programming and foreign languages are different. Wish I could learn the latter but my brain just isn’t wired that way.

  • dustinwilson

    I think a foreign language is still important, but computer science is getting more and more important as time goes on as well.

    Louisiana, of all places, has an excellent state scholarship program called TOPS where if you go to a Louisiana state-funded college after high school the state will pay tuition. There’s additional tiers on top of that where they’ll pay tuition and then some. The requirement is to take a more difficult curriculum. One requirement was TWO years of a foreign language (and I took Spanish). Another was a 1/2 credit in computer science. However, you had up to 2 credits of computer courses to take. I filled those with computer science.

    There should be room in the high school curriculum to do both a foreign language and computer science. But, then again I graduated in 2001 before the Republicans got their grubby paws on the education system. We didn’t have to spend ridiculous amounts of our time in the classroom being taught a test that evaluated teachers more than they did students.

  • Moeskido


  • Michael Cohen

    Much as I think understanding computer programming is important, a computer “language” and a human language are completely different things: one is an abstract formalism to describe algorithms and data structures; the other is at the core of what it is to be a human being. It would be much more appropriate for the study of computer languages to satisfy a math or science requirement.