Pace Says Adiós to Mandatory Language Courses

Sophomore Jacqueline Cunningham throws away her French textbook after deciding not to take French next year. Photo: Jamie Kornheiser

After years of student protest, Pace has decided to make it optional for students to take a world language for the 2019-2020 school year. While most students are ecstatic about the news, many teachers are understandably outraged.

Just hours after the recent language exam, students lined up outside of Head of School Fred Assaf’s office demanding the option to not take a world language. “It’s not fair that we can’t take the classes we want to take,” said sophomore Sydney Silverstein. “I’m not going to use Spanish after high school, so why do I have to take it now?”

Teachers, including those who teach world languages and those who do not, are questioning the decision. World Language teacher David Matanes, who teaches both French and Spanish, does not understand why students do not enjoy language. “It’s a lot of fun to learn a language,” said Mr. Matanes. “As teachers we strive to have interactive activities in the classroom that are both fun and informative.”

English teacher Hayley Conroy thinks all types of languages are important for students. “I loved taking language during school,” said Ms. Conroy. “I took Russian, which Pace does not offer, but I still think it’s important that students take a language. It helps your brain development.”  

As a result of being optional, many students have decided not to continue in their language. This is most evident in Latin classes. Due to the immense lack of interest for the continuation of Latin study, Pace has decided to get rid of Latin all together.

Junior and current Latin student Lucy Ferry could not be more ecstatic about the news. “I can’t wait to take a class that I will actually enjoy,” said Ferry. “Maybe I can even take an elective like theater or Computer Science.”

Fellow Latin student and sophomore Harley Ryan, however, begs to differ with Ferry. “Latin is one of, if not the, most important class Pace offers,” said Ryan. “It literally led to the creation of the English language, and it gives us valuable insight into some of the most incredible ancient empires.” Saying this, Ryan had to wipe away a tear, obviously upset about having his favorite class taken away from him.

Though the consequences of optional language courses are unknown, many students look forward to getting rid of the burden of working on two languages simultaneously. “It is exhausting,” said freshman Jonathan Merlin. “How am I supposed to succeed in English if I am learning Spanish and accidentally mixing up some of the vocabulario? This decision is for the best.”

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