Language requirements/recommendations for high schoolers interested in the Academy

cargiulo

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May 2, 2017
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My son is a freshman and is currently taking Latin 1. He is enrolled in Honors Latin for next year but is wondering if he should switch to Spanish. Is there a greater weight placed on which language you take in high school when seeking a nomination?

Thank you!
 

Usnavy2019

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Mar 31, 2013
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There is no preference regarding language during the admissions process. Admissions just cares that your DS excels in his chosen language. With respect to the Academy's language requirements, only Group 3 (Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences) majors are required to take a language. Group 3 Mids are required to take four semesters of the same language, but they can choose the language they want to study. Those taking a Group 1 (Engineering) or Group 2 major (Mathematics, Sciences, and Economics) do not typically take a language unless they minor in a language.

The Academy's selection of languages are below:
Arabic*
Chinese*
French
German
Japanese
Russian
Spanish

*=Available as a Major
Minors are available for all of the above
 

kinnem

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From USNA admissions pages, which really seems to be what you're asking about...
  • Foreign Language: at least two years, preferably four, in a single language. Coursework should include regular use of the spoken language and encompass elementary syntax and grammar.

This comes from Hurricane12's post on another thread. She is a USNA grad and USMC pilot.
I took Latin all through high school (up through both APs back when there was two Latin APs...) and didn't have any problems. I kind of doubt that they really care that much what language you took as long as you took one.
HOWEVER, being able to validate a little bit of a modern language would have been kind of nice, especially if you plan on declaring Group III.
 

cargiulo

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Thank you! I appreciate your insight. He definitely leans more toward Group 1, so it is really more of a matter of fulfilling his HS language requirements, but we also know that Spanish is the more useful of the languages beyond the classroom.
 

Cerberi

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Thank you! I appreciate your insight. He definitely leans more toward Group 1, so it is really more of a matter of fulfilling his HS language requirements, but we also know that Spanish is the more useful of the languages beyond the classroom.

I think which language is the more useful depends on where you are deployed.

There is a Plebe in 2020 whose high school foreign language was sign language so if your school doesn't offer foreign languages it doesn't mean you can't get appointed
 

kinnem

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Thank you! I appreciate your insight. He definitely leans more toward Group 1, so it is really more of a matter of fulfilling his HS language requirements, but we also know that Spanish is the more useful of the languages beyond the classroom.
If I were picking a spoken language today, I would pick Spanish. I took French in high school, partly because I lived near the border with Quebec and thought I would use it more than anything else. I still use it when ordering breakfast on my annual fishing trip in Quebec province. But today Spanish would be much more useful no matter where you are.

That being said I wouldn't rule out Latin. Latin can be very helpful in all sorts of ways. Here's an opinion piece (not my own) on 10 good reasons to take Latin: https://www.memoriapress.com/articles/top-10-reasons-studying-latin/

One factor is any decision I would make is how long can Latin be studied in your high school. If it's 4 years, or maybe even 3 years, I might still take Latin (I often wish I had studied Latin... but then I often wish I had studied Spanish). I wouldn't let the fact that Latin is no longer "spoken" necessarily determine my course of action. If only two years of Latin is available I might consider taking it and then taking 2 years of Spanish afterwards.

Good luck wrestling with this one. I don't think there is any wrong decision.
 

USMCGrunt

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Dec 13, 2010
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OP: you have gotten good advice. Still, I had to weigh in with my experience. I took four years of German. Not much help unless you get stationed there (Marines don't!). A good 50% of my platoon was Hispanic and in some ways, I wish I would have had a better understanding of the culture and language.

Interesting side note: I don't know if it was universal, but in my Battalion there was a standing requirement to speak English when you were working, in uniform, or in the field. The exception was private, off-duty conversation. The guidance was that they didn't want groups divided by language or disrespecting Officers, NCO's or other Marines by hiding behind an alternate language.
 

DesertCaliMom

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Feb 6, 2017
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DS has taken a year of college Russian (2 year equivalent for high school transcript). He knows he doesn't need the language for his hoped for major, it's just another tool in his toolbox and a minor he would like to pursue.
 

falconchic88

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Aug 28, 2009
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All three of mine took 3 years of Latin, and since they all received appointments, USNA apparently had no issues with it.
Good luck to your son!
 
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