The four-quarter foreign language requirement for students in the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (CHASS) has plagued students for years. In certain cases, students have missed their expected graduation date because they haven’t met their fourth quarter foreign language requirement, which has forced them to stay a fifth year to complete a breadth language requirement. Lowering the CHASS foreign language requirement to three quarters will make it possible for students to finish their foreign language requirement in one year and let them focus on their upper-division classes as they finish up their time at UCR.
When ASUCR Senator Shadi Matar met with Hispanic Studies Lecturer Mari-Carmen Ballester last summer, she expressed her concern that her classes were crowded and agreed that lowering the foreign language requirement deserved to be debated. By decreasing the language requirement, fewer students will choose to take the fourth quarter of a language which would allow professors who teach the fourth quarter of a language to teach either the first, second or third quarter of their respective language. An increased number of students would be able to enroll in the first three quarters of a language because there would be more classes available.
Not enough foreign language courses are offered in the current system. Students with late enrollment dates, primarily underclassmen who are encouraged to finish their breadth requirements in their first two years, are all but guaranteed not to get a spot in a foreign language class. Foreign language classes are some of the most highly demanded classes on campus and fill up quickly. Adding more professors to teach the first three quarters of a language will open up more seats for students who wish to take a foreign language.
Students majoring in a foreign language should not be concerned that they will have less classes available to them. Rather, they will have an adequate amount of classes available to fit their demand for it, and there will be less competition to sign up for these classes because a decreased number of students will need to enroll in these classes.
Although students consent that taking a foreign language is beneficial to make them well-rounded students, the current requirement is an unnecessary burden on students who need to direct their focus to their major classes. Students have little to no incentive to take a fourth quarter of a foreign language course when it doesn’t complement any of their major classes. Every breadth course serves to make students well-rounded and to explore different interests. However, no other breadth requirement takes over a year to complete and no series of classes outside of one’s major is required to be taken for four quarters. It is unnecessary to have students take over a year of one series of a single breadth course, especially when it keeps them from graduating in four years.
Matar plans to meet with the head of the CHASS Executive Committee in the coming weeks to express his concerns about the four-quarter language requirement. Students can take a leading role in the change. If students want to see the foreign language requirement lowered, you can raise your voice and attend the weekly ASUCR senate meetings and voice your opinions, email one of your ASUCR senators, or contact members of the academic senate directly to express your concerns. But whatever you do, let’s lower the language requirement.