Putting Education Reform To The Test

Computer Programming Could Count As A Foreign Language

Learning to write computer code could replace foreign language courses.

xkcd / xkcd.com

Learning to write computer code could replace foreign language courses.

Florida students could choose computer programming courses instead of a foreign language as part of a bill to help Florida schools add more technology and digital instruction.

The bill would require state colleges to accept two years of computer programming if the courses applied to a student’s major. State universities would have the option of accepting those courses instead of a foreign language.

Senate education chairman John Legg, who is sponsoring the bill, said it would prepare students to fill high-tech jobs. Advocates argue Florida won’t produce enough computer programmers over the next decade to fill available jobs.

Computer coding is getting a strong push in education. A national non-profit is urging students to write computer code for an hour daily. A South Florida woman has also started a program to teach kids the high-tech skill.

Florida students aren’t required to take foreign language in order to earn a standard high school diploma. A “scholar” diploma requires two years of foreign language. Florida universities often require students have studied a foreign language.

Read the bill below. The section on computer programming is at the end:


  • Dan Perazzo

    What they are COMPLETELY FAILING TO MENTION is that if your child wants to go to an out of State college they won’t get in without a foreign language !

    Also if Computer Programming is so important will it become a “core” subject and be part of the class size amendment ??? If so, will Foreign Language return as a core subject as it once was??? Seems to me if Ivy league schools require it, it is a core subject!!!

  • momchenr

    My native tongue is English, but am conversationally fluent in Spanish thanks to 4 years in high school, and a best friend who is fully bilingual. I also develop in multiple programming languages with software development, websites, etc.

    I have serious mixed feelings about machine languages occupying the same space within our society as verbal languages. I understand what the guy’s getting at, and I think that the ends justify the means, but learning a machine language is a completely different process, mentally, in my experience, when compared to learning a verbal one.

    One, there is a cultural component. One of the big reasons schools teach foreign languages is to expand their world view and make them a little more aware of cultures that are different than ours. The language you speak frames the way you think, and learning to express your English thoughts in a different tongue helps bridge an empathy and awareness gap with a far-away people.

    Two, there is a technical component. Learning a machine language is all about problem solving. The person arguing for this shift, in the radio program, talked about learning to ‘express yourself’ in code, but the joy I experience from coding comes more from solving a complex problem than it does with self-expression or artistic satisfaction. There is room for artistically concise and elegant code, but it happens at such a high level of proficiency that I’m not sure someone that’s only done it for 2 years will feel that art/code bliss.

    Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of similarities. Just like people have sayings that they like to use, once I get to know someone’s coding style, I can look at it and say, ‘Oh, there’s Pete using switch statements anywhere he can.’ And yes, syntax and grammar rules apply in both, and there’s vocabulary… But I perceive the mental space that machine languages occupy being closer to math, logic, and problem-solving than I do verbal expression or speech communication.

    When someone can tell me how to estimate Pi in French, or write poetry in binary, I’ll allow the two to comingle in my brain.

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »