In the case of many high school students, a foreign language is a vital part of their course load. Whether it is because of high school graduation requirements, a personal liking for linguistics or a pre-requisite for college admission, studying a foreign language in high school can be a highly beneficial experience, provided you decide on what language is best to take.
Benefits of a Foreign Language
Technological progress and rising multi-culture have helped build a more interconnected world. Hence, foreign language skills have become more valuable than ever and are vital assets for those seeking employment. For example, if you have business as a career option, mastering Chinese can get you places. There is also the case of the United Nations, which encourages job applicants to know at least one of the 6 official UN languages, apart from French and English.
Apart from tangible employment benefits, being fluent in a foreign language is valuable in daily life. Progress in travel and technology have led to a more interconnected world, and there are more chances for you to interact with people speaking a foreign language as well as build crucial personal and professional relationships.
Foreign language abilities are treated with high regard by Adcoms(Admission Committees) in the process of college admissions. Since it is so tough to attain fluency in a new language, if you can accomplish this, it points to Adcoms that you are a hardworking and dedicated student, who can take up challenges.
Also, when Adcoms are admitting new students, they will seek those who can contribute positively to the existing environment and culture of the college. Proficiency in a foreign language is taken as evidence of strong intellectual curiosity and interest in other cultures, which make you valuable members of a college community.
As a matter of fact, foreign languages are so valued by colleges such that top schools either require or highly recommend that student applicants study one in high school. For instance, Harvard recommends that freshmen applicants have 4 years of a single foreign language in their kitty and Stanford recommends 3 years. But such suggestions are flexible. For example, if your high school does not offer a foreign language, you will not be penalized for the same.
What Language to Take
One crucial concern is deciding what language to take. For many students, this is much dependant on what is offered in their high school. For instance, IB French is popular in many international schools. Different schools have varying resources, and foreign language departments differ much between schools.
When you survey the foreign language options offered by your high school, you should consider what benefits you will gain from the study of a particular language. Perhaps as an American, you wish to communicate properly with the majority of people, and so Spanish is a good option as it is spoken by a vast majority. In case, you wish to specialize in law or medicine; Latin would do well for you, as many Latin terms are used in these subjects. To stand out from the crowd, Italian or Portuguese would be ideal as they are much less popular.
Ultimately, your choice of a foreign language will be based on your occupational and intellectual interests, future goals, personal priorities, and school offerings.