Students of Japanese will be able to earn college credit in the language through a new Advanced Placement course to be offered beginning in the 2006-07 school year.
The new course and accompanying test—for which a passing score can qualify a student for credit toward a college degree—is part of a plan by the College Board to double the number of foreign-language offerings in the rigorous high school AP program. The goal of the New York City-based board, which announced the Japanese program last month, is to promote the study of other languages and cultures as an essential feature for students’ success in a global society.
“The College Board’s commitment to teaching and learning Japanese is an effort to further multiculturalism and multilingualism in secondary schools and to prepare students for an increasingly interconnected global economy,” board President Gaston Caperton said in a statement.
Courses in Italian and Chinese will soon be offered; plans are also under way for Russian. The foreign-language courses offered since the start of the AP program in 1955—French, German, Latin, and Spanish—will continue.
Japanese courses are offered in more than 600 U.S. secondary schools, according to the Japan Foundation, which promotes international understanding.
Making a Case
Many schools are holding the line on new courses in foreign languages and elective subjects as they turn more attention to enhancing achievement in English reading/ language arts and in mathematics, the subjects currently tested under the federal No Child Left Behind law.
The expansion of the AP language offerings, however, could help strengthen the case for language study, said Bret Lovejoy, the executive director of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.
“The recognition by the College Board that we need to expand the offerings in languages is important,” he said, and should send a message “to policymakers that they are important.”
ACTFL, based in Alexandria, Va., was set to launch its own campaign this week, dubbed “2005: The Year of Languages,” to raise awareness of the need for foreign-language education at all school levels.