Foreign Language in High School: Which Language?

In part I of this series we discussed what homeschoolers need to know about foreign language. 

In part II I offered common questions homeschoolers may need to ask. 

In this final part of the series, I will offer insights on how to determine what language to pursue. Again, understand all young adult's, their calling, and their career goals are unique. Not all of these tips will apply to every student and there are likely some you will uncover as you research and walk the journey with your young adult. 

Why do some colleges require more than one year of language? This is a great question! Highly-selective schools will require or recommend more years of language for their applicants. Part of the reason colleges seek more than one year of a foreign language is an understanding that the first year of foreign language is foundational, introductory work. The second, third, and fourth years generally dig deep into advanced conversation, writing, and even analysis. Of course, there are always exceptions to this thought. 

Can the student switch language course of study? Most colleges want two, three, or even four years of language study, often in the same language. Sometimes, however, students will complete one year of one language and then switch to another language. This is usually acceptable IF the student then continues at least two consecutive years (some college prefer three) in the same language. Again, this is an area which is often university specific, so ask questions as early as possible. 

Do colleges have a preference as to what languages are taken? In our experiences, most colleges have no requirements as to which languages they prefer students take. Again, there may be a rare situation out there somewhere, so do your homework! 

Are there expectations as to content of foreign language courses? Colleges know languages are hard. That is part of the reason they require language study. Colleges also expect comprehensive course content. 

What are some factors which could be considered as a student decides which language to pursue? Students who know what career field they want to enter should consider a language which would be beneficial to their future. For example, a student who wants to teach English in a Germany may consider taking a few years of German language. Foreign language is particularly  beneficial to students who plan to work in international banking, law, telecommunications, travel, government, to name a few. With more an more careers spanning the global market, language could be a definite asset. Other common factors in determining which languages students may pursue are future travel plans, family heritage, or personal interest. 

If a student is considering several languages and trying to determine which might be the best choice, consider visiting ethnic restaurants, borrowing foreign language how-to courses from the library, or spending time with people who speak the languages of interest. Or, travel either for pleasure or missions. Being immersed in a language may help with the decision of which language to pursue. 

As the student is choosing which language to study, he or she may need to be reminded that study may become (and often does become) difficult. Learning a language can be hard. In the challenging times, we have had to remind our young adults of the bigger picture. The bigger picture, the goal, often helped our students hurdle temporary difficulties. 

I hope this series has been helpful to you and offered some points to consider as you help your young adult successfully navigate the foreign language trek. 


This blog post is intended to offer an example of personal experience. It is in no way intended to be legal advice and should not be taken as such. Parents own the sole responsibility for the training and education of their children.