Students weigh in: Are language classes worth it?

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Amanda Salazar

As every Baruch College student knows, there are certain required classes that must be taken to become a member of one of the three schools and begin taking classes for a specific major.

For the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, these classes are the mandatory Pathways credits, COM 1010 and two semesters of a foreign language. Without taking these pre-Weissman courses at some point in their college career, liberal arts students would not be allowed to graduate, even if they completed all of the required classes for their major and minor.

Taking two semesters of a language is a logical requirement for students who are pursuing majors in this school focused on the arts and communications. Even for students majoring in a scientific field, learning a new language is never a bad thing.

While many Bearcats come into Baruch already knowing another language in addition to English — either partially or fluently — there are also many who don’t know two languages. Knowing more than one language can help one connect to and communicate better with others and can make one think more globally.

A Google Form survey electronically distributed by The Ticker found that out of the 15 people who participated in the survey, nine of them agreed with this statement, and that the language requirement is reasonable.

One Baruch junior, Nicole Virzi, said she believes that Baruch is right in making Weissman students take these classes because it enriches their learning experience.

“The language requirement is reasonable because learning a language is not only beneficial in terms of understanding and exposing ourselves to diversity and to other cultures, but it is also a skill that can make students more employable,” Virzi said.

“We must also consider the skills we acquire through learning a new language that do not necessarily pertain to the language itself. For instance, learning a new language requires a good memory, a lot of practice, and a certain level of discipline and determination. Learning a new language might be challenging, but the benefits seem to be worth the challenge. Additionally, the requirement is reasonable considering that we were required to learn a language in high school as well,” she continued.

As for retaining what students learn in these mandatory courses, it isn’t the easiest thing to do because they are not constantly surrounded by people speaking that language to them, but if one puts in the effort and practice, it’s not impossible.

Sophomore Geraldine Taveras agrees with this concept and said that she believes Baruch does its best to help its students learn.

“It’s hard to learn a new language if you’re not constantly integrating it into your everyday life,” Taveras said. “But that being said, I think Baruch instructors do a good job of making language something you think of outside of the classroom. The language courses are definitely worth it, but you have to do your part in retaining what you’ve learned.”

As the mission states, Baruch “remains dedicated to being a catalyst for the social, cultural, and financial mobility of a diverse student body, reflective of its historical mission. Baruch College educates men and women for leadership roles in business, civic and cultural affairs, and academia,” as stated on its website. The mission statement does correctly present the school, as it does have a very racially and socio-economically diverse population, and the goal for many students is to ascend in the financial hierarchy of society.

However, the mission statement does miss one vital component of many Bearcats’ college experiences — the huge club and organization community on campus and the many events that come as a result of it.

There is a vibrant club life and student camaraderie on campus that this statement completely misses. As this is a school, classes are obviously a big part of time spent on campus, but many students are in at least one of the 130-plus clubs and organizations  that meet in Baruch weekly.

Baruch also aims to improve students’ critical thinking and analytical skills, cultural awareness and sense of ethics, according to the statement.

The mission statement is pretty in line with those of other CUNY schools, such as City College’s goal to unleash their students’ potential and foster “research, creativity, and innovation.” Similarly, Hunter College’s three-paragraph mission statement explains their objective is to emphasize creativity, research and “human diversity,” while also advocating for their students to use New York City’s resources to their advantage .

These statements are all relatively similar, but both CCNY’s and Hunters have further reach; Baruch’s mission statement should touch on more than just the teaching and classes.

Clubs and groups teach students a lot about accepting each other’s differences, working together and being creative. They even help students work on their marketing and organizing skills, for those who are part of committees and executive boards.

Students get to experience different cultures and religions through clubs and their events, participating in activities they normally would not have the opportunities to do at on-campus events.

This school is about a lot more than just the knowledge that is dispersed in class and the mission statement, while overall pretty accurate, should be modified to reflect this.