After living in Europe for over two months, I’m officially annoyed at America for only teaching me one language. The majority of European people I’ve met speak at least (emphasis on the “at least”) three languages: their languages of origin, English and at least one other they picked up along the way.

I understand that English is a universal language that connects most people, but I don’t understand why learning another language isn’t stressed in America. Sure, students may learn Spanish beginning from fourth to sixth grade, but it isn’t enough. The first few years of life are critical in learning a language, so it should start in preschool.

One hour of learning Spanish the easy way once a week isn’t effective. Spanish should be a critical part of the elementary curriculum so by the time students reach middle school, they can communicate effectively in another language besides English.

The other problem is that foreign language classes aren’t required in all schools. Students can choose among a few languages, which usually results in one year of multiple languages to avoid it being too difficult. High school students may only take one year of a language and never use it again, which is pointless.

If students already knew English and Spanish, they could then choose another language to learn. Of course, some students may not be interested, but that should be a choice they make in college, just like they do with other subjects.

I’m not sure why the United States doesn’t seem to take learning foreign languages more seriously, but it’s something I feel strongly about. I feel at a disadvantage in Europe when I hear people say they know three or more languages, and it makes me wish I knew more than just English and Spanish (and this is only because I chose to continue studying it).

Countries may not be as close in proximity to the U.S. as they are in Europe, but that shouldn’t matter. There are a ton of Spanish-speaking people in the U.S., and it would put us at an advantage if everyone knew the language. Knowing another language is also critical if you plan to travel.

The U.S. needs to buckle up and start making foreign languages a core part of its education curriculum.

Rachel Petty is a sophomore media arts and design major. Contact Rachel at