Taking computer science as a foreign language could soon be possible

Chuck Bednar for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Classes in computer science or programming could soon count towards the foreign language requirements of colleges in some states, various media outlets reported last week.
According to Ars Technica, two Washington state legislators have introduced a bill that would allow computer programming courses to fulfill the foreign language requirements of universities in that state. The proposed law, House Bill 1445, would amend current regulations which only recognize “any natural language” that is “formally studied.”
On Wednesday, House Bill 1445 was presented in front of the Washington State House of Representatives Committee on Higher Education, and its author told the wesbite that while he believed in a “well-rounded” education that included learning a second language,  he felt that such classes will not be effective for those taking them for the first time in high school.
“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. By high school it’s just a way for kids to get into college,” Representative Chris Reykdal said. “If we’re serious about language, we should embed it earlier.”
Conversely, Reykdal noted that the high-paying computer science industry is expanding rapidly, and that more employment opportunities are popping up in that field than there are people to fill them. Allowing college students to use programming classes towards a collegiate foreign language requirement would help those getting into the field prepare for their future careers.
Other states also considering this
Washington is not the only state to be considering such a proposal. In late January, the Washington Post reported that a New Mexico legislator had introduced a similar bill, which would allow programming classes to fulfill state-level foreign language requirements for public school students.
State senator Jacob Candelaria, the sponsor of the bill, said that doing so would give youngsters the skills needed to get ahead in what the paper calls “a computer-oriented economy.” In order to graduate, high school students in his state current have to take at least one course in a language other than English. The bill would allow HTML or JavaScript to count as that language.
“We still have work to do in figuring out how state government adapts to a very different world,” Candelaria told the Albuquerque Journal, adding that it would be up to each district whether or not they offered the programming classes in lieu of foreign language courses. “Districts could still teach Latin, French or Spanish, but it provides the incentive for them to incorporate (computer) coding into their curriculum without it being an unfunded mandate.”
Kentucky Senate President Pro Tem David Givens also introduced a similar bill in his state’s legislature last month, according to the Associated Press. Givens told reporters that computer programming qualified as a language and that it was “foreign to a lot of people.” His bill would allow computer courses to count towards both the graduation requirements of high schools and the admissions requirements required by public universities in Kentucky.
He added that the change was needed to help prepare future workers to take on programming careers expected to become available in the near future. The measure was approved in the Senate last year but failed to make it out of the house, the AP said, adding that critics of the bill argue that it could sacrifice classes that are equally important in helping students compete in the workforce.
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