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December 02, 2012

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>The argument: English is widely-spoken and pretty much all you need for business.

This isn't answering *your* question, Noel, but I'm thinking of my daughter's Chinese teacher's growing language program at two high schools, and of many universities' expansion into China, predicated on the same (simplified by me) conclusion: it'll be good for global business. That said, my kid is always asking her Chinese teacher how to say words like "murder" and "poison." I feel like he got into this to teach leaders of tomorrow and he's ended up working with some future assassin.

Rather than argue against Summers I would modify his argument: language learning is a worthwhile activity, but it doesn't necessarily have to take place in a university setting. Self-teaching through various means is a viable option in many cases.

Is the point of a university education teaching students what they need to know to conduct business effectively? If we accept that as the purpose of a university, than I'm not sure how I would refute Summers's argument. I'm pretty sure, however, that we then have to start looking quite critically at a number of other departments -- I'm not sure how learning music theory, about feudal Japan, or about Freud help you do business, but I'm pretty sure they all have a place in the mission of a university.

Well, i would say that in a world that is increasingly interdependent, we can no longer afford to remain monolingual. Learning foreign languages is no longer a pastime: it is a necessity.

I think learning a new language is a fantastic idea. I struggled with it in high school and never really tried again. Then I came across Berlitz and all of their helpful services. It really helped me learn a lot and showed me I could learn a language

If a person relocates to a new country, he will start understanding the new language gradually. However, hiring a language tutor will help speeding up this process.

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