[An artist’s rendering of the Business Center set to be completed in 2014 – image courtesy of sbu.edu]
Out of four schools of instruction, only the School of Business majors do not need to take foreign language courses
By Tony Lee, editor in chief, @sHecKii
ST. BONAVENTURE (April 19) — Scott Wozer wants to be a financial analyst and learns how to read, write and speak math fluently like a language, so to speak.
But he wanted to learn another language, one with numbers and words that sounds different.
So Wozer did something a few students in his major do. The finance major enrolled in Italian 101 as an elective in his sophomore year.
But after two semesters, Wozer stopped taking a foreign language — not because he lost interest, he said, but his major requirements became so demanding.
“I’m a junior now, and I’ve got my graduation kind of planned out,” said Wozer, who minors in marketing and economics. “So I don’t really have room for it.”
Out of the four schools of instruction at St. Bonaventure University, the School of Business does not require its students to take a foreign language course.
John Watson, the School of Business’ dean, said the reason is simple. Its accrediting bodies have never required it in his 36 years.
Brian McAllister, an assistant professor of the business school, said depending on a degree’s concentration, the curriculum gives business students freedom to take only three or six credits of non-business electives out of the 120 required to graduate.
“There is not too much we could’ve done about it one way or another under those parameters,” McAllister said of adding a language requirement.
Out of a survey from 18 students in the School of Business, 11 said they would not want to add a language requirement — four adding they would change majors if it did.
However, seven surveyed said they would like to see it as a requirement in the future.
“The business field is becoming more global every day,” said Jenna Jones, a sophomore finance major. “I think that we should be keeping up with the trend, whatever that may be.”
The School of Business became one of 607 worldwide institutions across 38 countries to be accredited by the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business in 2004.
Jerry Trapnell, the association’s executive vice president and chief accreditation officer, said they believe a foreign language could add to a student’s education about an emerging global marketplace.
But internships, studying abroad, traveling and other academia curriculum can do the same, too.
“It is an important issue,” he said of a language requirement, “but whether an individual school must or should do it, we think that’s an inappropriate focus for us to mandate a second language.”
Trapnell said most students already know the most commonly used language in international business transactions: English.
However, Shelley Jack, a visiting professor who taught business language for second-language learners in San Jose, Costa Rica, said it would be “dangerously shortsighted if we think English will always be the only business language of the world.”
Nonetheless, Jack said she understands its limitations on a campus like St. Bonaventure’s.
“Is one or two semesters really enough?” she said. “Is four semesters really enough—especially when you’re not using it?
“I think the ideal place to learn language is that you’re surrounded by it and you have to speak it,” Jack said. “But we can’t create that here.”
Watson said if the AACSB required St. Bonaventure to have a foreign language requirement, he would.
The business school, however, does require a foreign language requirement for its international business minors, but none for its five majors.
Wozer said he considered the international business minor to learn another language but decided on two other minors instead.
He said he still wants to learn another language because it would be useful if he worked as a financial analyst overseas.
However, Wozer said his first two years at the School of Business has prepared him well for the real world — and adding a language requirement wouldn’t change that.
“I think they try to do a pretty good job of making you a well-rounded business student as well as a well-rounded person,” he said.