Article: Employers in Bavaria don't like Latin

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

That's the gist of this article in German, which can be read through Google Translate here. The general gist though is that some people (employers) don't want German students to study so much Latin. I naturally disagree.

Employers, teachers and scientists advise students to not spend their time learning dead languages. Their message: learn Spanish, Chinese or Turkish instead of Latin. "Our modern economy is geared to exchange with other countries. Many economic partners are situated in east Europe, Asia and Latin America. And many customers, even inside the country, do not speak German. We need employees that speak the languages of these people" says Barbara Dorn from the Confederation of German Employers (Bundesvereinigung der Deutschen Arbeitgeberverbände). Mario Oesterreicher, head of the Modern Languages Association, calls for a wider range of languages such as Chinese or Dutch in schools, saying that students who know these languages will fare better in the job market than "Latiners". Latin continues to boom in high schools, but other languages are catching up. The number of Spanish students in NRW has almost quadrupled in ten years to 120,000. 20,00 students learn Dutch, three times more than in 2002. Latin and French are among the subjects that students fail the most...The penchant for classical languages seems to be a German phenomenon. "In France maybe one percent of students learn Latin, in Bavaria it is 50%." Those who want to change the status quo are of the opinion that: "Latin promotes logical thinking? Other languages do that too. Latin helps in the teaching of German? Why not then improve German classes?"
So why do I disagree? For many reasons that I won't elaborate on here, but most of all because of the impression it gives that language learning is an activity that takes place during youth, when it can and does happen at any time. There's no reason a student could not learn Latin during school, then graduate and find a need for Spanish, which can then be learned through a few months of self-study followed by a number of months in Spain (the number of months depending on the student's language learning ability and the level of fluency desired).


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