By Jaci Schneider, Opinion Editor
Much Ado About Something
As strange as it may seem to most Americans, English is not the most commonly spoken language in the world. More than one billion people speak Mandarin Chinese, compared to the only 508 million people who speak English.
For a university whose mission is to educate students for leadership throughout the world, ACU places little emphasis on foreign language training. While many Americans might assume that English is a universal language, more than 5 billion people don’t speak it.
ACU offers courses in Spanish, French, German, Greek and Hebrew. Only two of those languages place in the top ten most spoken. Spanish is No.4, and French is No. 10.
Students majoring in Bible, missions and ministry are required to take Greek, a language that is no longer even spoken. While the value of learning Greek to read the Bible is vital, it seems that students, especially those intending to enter missions, should be required to study a spoken language.
Students majoring in business have no language requirements, yet in today’s increasingly global society, one day they might likely do business with foreign companies or even employees.
Many people might argue that the need to learn another language is pointless because everyone else learns English. Although some truth exists in this statement, the attitude is incredibly arrogant and ethnocentric and something Christians should avoid portraying.
As Christians, we should put others before ourselves, which includes making an effort to communicate in someone else’s native language.
Only students working toward a bachelor of arts degree must take a spoken foreign language, and even then the languages are more historical and artistic rather than widely spoken.
As students being trained for leadership throughout the world, we should be trained in foreign languages such as Mandarin, Hindustani (No.3), Spanish (No.4) and Russian (No. 5). Even if ACU cannot offer these classes, students should have to take at least one available language because learning any second language makes it easier to learn a third or fourth language.
Even for students never planning to leave Texas, knowing Spanish is a huge asset and would provide many opportunities in those students’ lives. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 28.1 million people living in the United States speak Spanish at home, and 2 million people speak Chinese at home.
Think about the humility and love for the rest of the world students from ACU could show simply by learning another language. Think about how it would look to the rest of the world if every ACU graduate could communicate in a language other than English. Think about what an awesome effect that could make for Christ.