Limited Time: $100 OFF Self-Paced Courses! Use Code: SCHOOLPREP

Veritas Philosophy | 3 Minutes

The Veritas Approach to Modern Languages

Marlin Detweiler Written by Marlin Detweiler
The Veritas Approach to Modern Languages

The old joke asks, “What do you call someone who speaks three languages?” Trilingual. “Someone who speaks two?” Bilingual. “And what do you call someone who speaks only one?” American.

The joke works because it pokes fun at a deficiency in American education. Many believe there’s no use, no benefit, to learning more languages than one—English. Veritas aims to dispel that notion and retire the crack’s humor. Those who receive a Veritas education will never be the butt of that joke.

Students study a modern foreign language (MFL) for different reasons.

  • Some want to understand the people and customs of the foreign place where they live. Missionaries to Tanzania may want their children to learn Swahili. A family stationed in Okinawa believes they’ll fit in better if they learn a little Japanese.
  • Others learn an MFL to befriend and do business with those who don’t speak their language. America is a melting pot of peoples. One way of welcoming an Ethiopian immigrant is to pick up a few Amharic phrases. Learning some Vietnamese may win a smile from the restaurateur where you eat lunch.
  • Still others want to learn an MFL to sharpen their mind and improve brain function. All foreign languages have sounds ours don’t. Most use a writing system ours doesn’t, either. Learning a different language calls for attention, memorization, analysis, and creativity. It gives the mind a workout.
  • Some want to expose themselves to ideas as first expressed in another language. A literature student wants to experience the Spanish of Cervantes. A philosophy student wants to read Pascal in the original French. A physics student wants to tackle the German of Einstein’s thought.
  • And colleges want to see at least two years of the same MFL on a transcript.

All these reasons are valid; all have their place.

The world’s home to about 7,000 languages. Like any education that teaches modern foreign languages, Veritas has to be selective. We currently offer courses in four key languages: Spanish, French, German, and Mandarin.

Each has a rich history. Each will be useful for years to come. German, French, and Spanish are “founding languages” of the modern West. Mandarin hails from China, and about a billion call it their native tongue.

Regardless of why someone learns an MFL, doing so enriches both the student and the world. Learning another people’s language is learning something about them. And learning about them can lead to better communication and greater understanding.

We recommend students study MFLs after they’ve had Latin and, hopefully, some Greek. Consequently, most Veritas students are taking MFLs in their high school years.

Veritas wants to equip students to exchange ideas with others. When we can communicate in another’s language, we’ve removed a barrier to understanding. If we can do that, we may be able to make the world a little more peaceful place. And that aim is nothing to laugh at.

Learn more about the course options for Modern Languages!