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Many universities require that applicants for admission have taken a foreign language in high school.  If they have not, then the universities commonly require that they take some foreign language courses as part of a general requirement for all bachelor degree programs.  I suspect that such a universal requirement prevents many talented people from achieving their educational goals.

To me, the current foreign language requirement discriminate against aphantasics who do not create auditory images and people who do not foresee a need for a foreign language in their career goals.

To me, foreign language requirements should be restricted to students who wish to work in a field where capability in a foreign language is needed.  For all other students, foreign language courses should be optional.  Students, in general, can get a broad education by taking a wide variety of other courses during their first and second years.

When I wrote about this issue to the head of academic programs in the office of the President of the University of California system I received the following rationalized justification is response:

“Faculty at the University establish minimum admission criteria to ensure every student offered admission has the foundational skills necessary to succeed and persist to the Bachelor’s degree. While campuses review applicants for minimum systemwide requirements, no applicant is denied without receiving a full application review. Students who are missing a requirement but are otherwise qualified and competitive for a campus may gain admission under the University’s Admission by Exception policy. This policy provides a means to identify students who do not meet technical requirements for eligibility but who demonstrate strong likelihood of success

at UC or exceptional potential to contribute to the University or the State of California. Exceptions can be made for numerous reasons, including for physical or learning disabilities or conditions such as aphantasia, that affect students’ ability to meet UC eligibility requirements.”

I would like to see aphantasics take a leadership in fighting against this type of discrimination.  Some actions that could occur include:

1.  Challenging the requirements as being an illegal form of discrimination

2.  Conducting research on how such requirements adversely affect aphantasics and others whose careers will not depend upon knowledge of a foreign language.

3.  The adverse financial and time consumption aspects of having to take such courses.

4.  The learning improvements of having only interested students attending such courses courses.

5.  Studies of how many young people avoid going to college because they are discouraged by such foreign language requirements.

6.  Develop ways for universities to publicize to high school counselors the alternatives that might be available.

7.  Etc.

My deceased wife, who was fluent in seven languages, was almost amazed that someone who does not create auditory images was required to study a foreign language.  She quickly realized that it would be almost impossible for me to ever become fluent in a foreign language.

She raised the question as to whether universities keep pushing the requirement as a form of guaranteed employment for foreign language teachers.  She had also found that  the learning by the interested students was hindered by uninterested students being in the same classes.

 

 

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