Looking at all the media coverage of HB 1445 (“Using computer sciences to satisfy world language college admission requirements.” http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?year=2015&bill=1445), I am reminded of that old saying, “Any publicity is good publicity” or “There is no such thing as bad publicity.”
On the one hand, much of the media coverage seems to perpetuate the idea that “learning 2-3 years of a foreign language in high school is a waste of time,” but, on the other hand, at least they’re talking about language learning. And it’s interesting to see the arguments made for starting language learning earlier.
Here are a few samples related to this bill.
Washington lawmakers want computer science to count as foreign language
If bill passes, two years of comp sci would count toward university admission.
Ars Technica | 2/6/2014 (accessed 3/9/2015)
“The bill’s author, Representative Chris Reykdal told Ars that while he does believe in a ‘well-rounded’ education including foreign language, most students end up studying a language for the first time in high school—far too late to usually be effective.
“If we were serious, we would put language in our elementary schools when the brain is mapping in a different way, and we would have kids fluent by 6th or 7th grade,” he said. “By high school it’s just a way for kids to get into college. If we’re serious about language, we should embed it earlier.” …
“I’ve nothing against students learning more about programming, but I think it’s a disingenuous way of getting around foreign language requirements,” Patrick Cox, an editor on PRI’s The World, and the host of The World in Words podcast, told Ars by e-mail. “It’s an indication of the low value that many American politicians—and unfortunately, educators—place on foreign language learning. No linguist I know of buys the argument that a computer programming language is even close to a natural language and should be treated as such.”
Wash. Bill Would Let High School Students Take Computer Science Instead Of Foreign Language
KPLU 88.5 | 2/4/2014 (accessed 3/9/2015)
“People from the higher education community who spoke against the bill say while students may not remember much Spanish or Japanese after high school, taking such classes makes them well rounded and culturally competent to deal with the world.”
Washington Bill Would Count Programming As A Foreign Language On College Apps
Fast Company | (accessed 3/9/2015)
“As the Learn 2 Code movement swells and pushes increasingly toward educating youth, this doesn’t seem like a bad idea, especially since learning programming is kind of like learning a different language. A study released by an international team of researchers last April used MRI scanners to discern whether programming was more closely related to math or language disciplines in the brain—and found a tenuous association favoring language.
“‘It appears to make some sense, based on what we have learned from the study,’ University of Passau computer scientist Janet Siegmund told Fast Company.’ Actually, with these kinds of studies, you should always say that more studies need to be done. But what we found is that it appears to be related.'”
And yet another…
Code.org takes sides on dueling bills promoting computer science in Washington State
Geek Wire | 2/5/2015 (accessed 3/9/2015)
“Two bills are currently vying for attention in the state House of Representatives: HB 1813, which expands computer science education through a grant program, and HB 1445, which proposes using computer science courses to satisfy college world language requirements.” …
“The problem in Washington, he [Seattle-based Code.org co-founder and CEO Hadi Partovi] adds, ‘isn’t that computer science doesn’t satisfy graduation requirements. That was a problem in 2013, and we solved that by allowing (computer science) to count as math or science. The problem today is that computer science isn’t even being taught in the majority of schools.'” …
“The non-profit Code.org has dealt with similar matters in the past. Almost exactly a year ago it argued on its blog that, ‘Computer science is not a foreign language.'”
Blog post by Dr. Michele Anciaux Aoki,
Member of WAFLT (Washington Association for Language Teaching), and
ACTFL American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, and
NADSFL (National Association for District Supervisors for Language), and
Associate Member of NCSSFL (National Council of State Supervisors for Language)