[lg policy] Should computer code be taught instead of language(s)?

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at GMAIL.COM
Tue May 13 20:31:45 UTC 2014


Not at the Expense of Foreign Languages
[image: Stacie Berdan]

Stacie Nevadomski
Berdan<http://stacieberdan.com/about-stacie-berdan-international-careers-expert/>is
the author, most recently, of "Raising
Global Children." <http://stacieberdan.com/raising-global-children-is-here/>

*Updated* May 12, 2014, 7:13 PM

Academics and educators increasingly cite computer coding as an important
component of a 21st-century education. Some even want to have coding
classified as a type of “language” for foreign language credit. Legislators
in Florida<http://stateimpact.npr.org/florida/2014/02/03/computer-programming-could-count-as-a-foreign-language/>,
Kentucky<http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20140123/NEWS0101/301230033/>,
New Mexico<http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2014/01/28/states-could-count-computer-programming-as-foreign-language-skill/>and
Texas <http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/02/26/22computer_ep.h33.html>,
for example, have introduced legislation that would allow high school
students to use computer coding courses to satisfy their state's foreign
language graduation requirement.

While computer coding is undeniably a worthwhile course of study, there is
a far greater need to teach our elementary school students foreign
languages.

While computer coding is undeniably a worthwhile course of study, there is
a far greater need to teach our elementary school students real foreign
languages. For starters, as far as I know, there is no research that
indicates that coding will enhance creativity, logical thinking or lead to
the enhanced job prospects that its advocates predict.

Decades of well-documented
research<http://www.actfl.org/advocacy/discover-languages/what-the-research-shows>,
however, demonstrate the far-reaching benefits of learning a foreign
language. It helps students learn about another culture, enables them to
cross cultural bounds more easily by appreciating and understanding
differences and similarities, and develops critical skills of adaptability,
empathy, communication and relationship building – all of which can be
applied to any field. Learning a second language also enhances cognitive
abilities and makes one
"smarter"<http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/18/opinion/sunday/the-benefits-of-bilingualism.html?_r=1&>by
enhancing math, science and even English language skills. Being able
to
speak another language increasingly helps recent graduates get good-paying
jobs and then advance more rapidly in them.

Research shows that students who begin studying a second language before
age 13 <http://www.kennethreeds.com/uploads/2/3/3/0/2330615/article.pdf>have
a much greater chance of becoming proficient. Coding, by contrast,
does not take nearly the same amount of time on task that learning a
foreign language does and thus does not need to begin so early.

If we want our students to be able to compete in the global marketplace, we
must insist that they learn how to communicate and interact with others
around the world. Learning to communicate with a computer can come later.


forwarded from nytimes.com


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 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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