All Marlborough girls must take a foreign language. Currently this requirement can be fulfilled through taking classes in any of the four foreign language classes Marlborough offers: Chinese, French, Latin or Spanish. Many colleges require a certain number of years of foreign language, the University of California (UC) system, for example, requires three years, or until advanced placement (A.P.), in a foreign language from grades nine through twelve. We understand that Marlborough cannot plausibly offer every language in the world, but it’d be nice to have some alternatives to language learning.
While all four languages are from different regions and/or time periods, they do not represent all the different types of languages that a person can take. For example, three are spoken languages, and the addition of a language used by deaf and hard of hearing people, like American Sign Language (ASL), would open up different opportunities to Marlborough students than the languages we currently offer would. For example, if a student were to ‘fall in love’ with ASL she may decide to pursue a career as an interpreter. It would also provide an opportunity to learn about Deaf culture, something most hearing people aren’t even aware exists.
In the mission statement, Marlborough promises to prepare its students for ‘global citizenship,’ but the language department is missing entire sections of the world that girls may be interested in learning about as we only offer European and Asian languages. For example, learning Arabic could help someone learn about Middle Eastern society, and, as our world starts to feel smaller thanks to the communications revolution, it is becoming increasingly important to understand the world around us better.
Another benefit of taking Arabic is that if you pass a proficiency test in the language, you get a bonus if you decide to pursue a military career. This is because Arabic is very prominent in foreign affairs right now. Aside from military careers, languages can open up opportunities for people to learn, not only the language itself, but also about culture, and it could help a girl who wants to pursue a career in foreign affairs or journalism to know something about Middle Eastern culture. This is something that a Marlborough girl could learn in her Arabic class.
Learning other languages could help to set Marlborough girls apart when we get to college, as most colleges offer more than four languages, and some girls may very well want to pursue a major or minor in a language other than Chinese, French, Latin, or Spanish. Starting out at college in a higher language class would free up credits, allow students the opportunity to study abroad earlier. While, in the case of ASL, if a student really wants to pursue ASL, she might want to attend Gallaudet University, a liberal arts college that focuses on deaf and hard of hearing education, where all hearing undergraduates must be fluent in ASL.
At Marlborough, we currently offer four languages that are very similar to those offered at other private schools in Los Angeles. Adding more languages would set Marlborough apart as a forerunner in language education. If it turns out that the languages weren’t popular enough for an official class, girls could continue to take other languages from online schools, like the Online School for Girls, or Marlborough could help interested students find a teacher over Skype to teach language to a specific group of girls. While we are aware girls can currently take language courses online, online courses should be more emphasized and encouraged as this would be a more cost effective way to offer more variety if a language doesn’t have enough popularity to become a class. We’re not saying that we need to offer every language in the world, we know that’s not realistically possible, but we are saying that having more options would really set Marlborough apart in the area of foreign language.