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South Carolina's War of Words: Legislators to Examine Definition of "Foreign Language" in 2020

Updated: Oct 15, 2019

During the 2020 legislative session, South Carolina language teachers will be in a war of words regarding the definition of "foreign language education."

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In an interview this June with the Greenville News, the Republican leader in the House of Representative had already made up is mind about one education provision he wants: to include "computer coding" as a foreign language, and thereby bypass any language requirements for graduation, making the state one of a few dozen others that have considered examining the definition of a "language."

The articles goes on to state that the Speaker Jay Lucas Education Committee would be "seeking teacher input" during "five closed-door, regional meetings in September" with district teachers-of-the-year to determine their priorities for the 2020 legislative session. It is unclear as of yet when exactly these meetings took place and what ideas were discussed.

Coding as a foreign language may seem insignificant in relation to other proposed big-ticket items on the agenda for 2020, including tax reform, abortion laws, not to mention the President primary. But the South Carolina Foreign Language Teachers Association (SCFLTA) Board of Directors have already moved to anticipate the coming battle. This week, Executive Director Jason Bagley, along with ACTFL, sent a statement to Speaker Lucas entitled "Position Statement Against Offering Computer Coding as an Alternative to World Language Study."

SCFLTA invites policy makers and stakeholders to consider the benefits of both world language study and computer coding, allowing for both to contribute to 21st century learners in South Carolina as global leaders with cultural appreciation and sensitivity, as well as leaders in technological capabilities.

Mr. Bagley's message to advocates: "Please contact your legislators and encourage your network to do the same." To find your legislator, click here.

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