Si or no? US states debate swapping computer coding for languages

(Last Updated On: February 9, 2016)

Florida high school student Brooke Stewart would gladly swap two required foreign language classes to become fluent in JavaScript or Python, the coding languages she uses to design computer games.

Lawmakers in her state have sparked national debate by considering whether to provide that option. A measure championed by a former Yahoo executive, who is now a Florida legislator, would allow students to substitute traditional foreign language studies for immersion in coding, the lingua franca of the technology era.

Enthusiasm for teaching coding to American students is widespread, with President Barack Obama in his latest weekly radio address calling for computer science to join the “three R’s” – reading, writing and arithmetic. But many share concerns about doing so at the expense of global languages, arguing the computer algorithms do not equate to conversations.

Stewart, a 16-year-old high school sophomore in Tampa, said rethinking the definition of a language makes sense.

“You can translate languages across the Internet through coding, but you can’t do that without coding,” she said.

Officials in Kentucky, Georgia, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington also have floated the notion of substituting foreign language studies with computer coding credits in recent years.


Source: Business Insider

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