Speaking in Code: The Case for Expanding Foreign Language Requirements | Voice of San Diego

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Speaking in Code: The Case for Expanding Foreign Language Requirements

President Obama’s recent comments on computer programming excited some local high school students.

 

My government class caught the end of President Obama’s fireside Google hangout in mid-February. My students became particularly interested when a woman asked Obama if he thought high schools should add a computer programming language requirement. They really appreciated his answer

There are a whole bunch of young people out there, I suspect, who, if, in high school, are given the opportunity to figure out, here’s how you can design your own games, but it requires you to know math, and it requires you to know science, or here’s what a career in graphic design looks like, and we’re going to start setting those programs in our high schools, not waiting till community college, and then you can apprentice with somebody who’s already a graphic designer in your area. What it does, not only is to prepare young people who may choose not to go to a four-year college, to be job-ready, but it also engages kids.

Some of my students have a real interest in learning Spanish and have been well-served by meeting our school’s foreign language requirement. But others would be much more interested in learning computer programming, a skill with a lot of demand and not enough supply.

I wonder what it would take for the district to develop a computer programming sequence that could satisfy students’ language requirement. San Diego students would certainly benefit from developing a marketable high-wage skill in high school.

Oscar Ramos is a contributor to Voice of San Diego. Follow him on Twitter @OscarRamosSD or email oscar.ramos.blog@gmail.com.

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