Students should not waste their time in elementary language courses while in college, Joshua Whatmough, professor of Comparative Philology, said last night.
"If people believe that students need a language, then they should get it in the high schools, and not waste valuable time and money in college," he said. Whatmough emphasized the fact that he referred to the "easily learned languages of Western Europe," such as French, German, and Spanish, which are all much like English, and did not mean Russian or any other of the more difficult tongues not based on Latin or Teuton roots.
"It is questionable if there is any cultural value to be gained by studying a language merely to pass language requirements," he said. "If course, I am not talking about advanced study, but a person intending to do advanced study should get his fundamentals in secondary school, just as the scientist gets his elementary background before coming to college."
Teaching these courses is also frustrating to young faculty members, who get no real lecture experience in them, he said, but added that paradoxically, one reason for the retention of the courses is to provide graduate students with teaching fellowships.