I just read a viewpoint in the Daily in which an out-of-state freshman complains to everyone about having to fulfill the foreign language requirement (Foreign language frustration, 02/02/2009). The author says he does not want to take any more Italian, because he does not like it and will never use it. He also informs us that no one should be required to study languages, alluding generically and inanely to a globalized world in which everyone speaks English.
How nice. First of all, people should take a language that interests them and that they could someday use. That way, they can take a more serious interest in studying it. If you don’t want to take Italian, you shouldn’t. Second, if you don’t believe you should have to fulfill this University requirement, keep in mind that you knew what you were getting yourself into when you came here. And no student is entitled to skip the foreign language requirement, because the University has good reasons for enforcing it.
Obviously, only a minority of the world’s population can speak English. But beyond that fact, not everyone wants to, nor should they have to. The aim of this requirement is to prepare you to be a world citizen, willing and able to work respectfully and cooperatively with other people of the world. Assuming everyone will speak English to you is arrogant and incorrect, and this attitude perpetuates an embarrassing stereotype of Americans abroad.