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Learning Java not same as learning Javanese

First graders sort Korean spelling patterns during Foreign Language Academy of Glendale Korean class at Mark Kepple Elementary School in Glendale, Calif. File.
First graders sort Korean spelling patterns during Foreign Language Academy of Glendale Korean class at Mark Kepple Elementary School in Glendale, Calif. File. (Raul Roa / Glendale News-Press)

A bill to allow computer coding to substitute for foreign language in Maryland schools has been reintroduced before the Maryland House of Delegates this year (“Don’t substitute computer coding for foreign language class,” March 5). It was a terrible idea when it was defeated the first time and it remains so.

Coding is a worthwhile undertaking for students who are so inclined, but rather than append it to the study of mathematics, computer science or a general science curriculum, the proponents reached all the way across the disciplinary spectrum to attempt to jettison foreign languages to make room for this sub-field of study. The fact that programs and applications are comprised of computer “languages” does in no way mean that Java is the same as Javanese, or that C++ is somehow equivalent to Cantonese.

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If the purpose of the proposed legislation is to promote a marketable skill set in our schools, the best way to do so is to link it to a related field of study. Depriving our students and ultimately our workforce of the critical thinking skills, intercultural and global competence, and career readiness that result from foreign language proficiency would be a tremendous disservice. Coding should be infused into the math and science curricula and graduation requirements should remain unscathed.

Jeffrey D. Samuels, Towson

The writer is president and CEO of World Languages 360.

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