The official Student News Site of Dublin High School.

The Dublin Shield

The official Student News Site of Dublin High School.

The Dublin Shield

The official Student News Site of Dublin High School.

The Dublin Shield

DHS’s French Department: Much Ado or Much Adieu?

Honors French students can be found in room Q-12 in the portables during seventh period—the only period of Honors French at Dublin High.
Matthew Noique
Honors French students can be found in room Q-12 in the portables during seventh period—the only period of Honors French at Dublin High.

As course registration opens for the 2024-2025 school year, many students become preoccupied with determining the English, math, history, and science classes they’ll be taking next year. My focus, however, as well as that of many other Honors French students, is elsewhere; we’re busy trying to continue our journey in DHS’s foreign languages department, specifically through AP French. Despite our determination, though, I can’t help feeling troubled at the current state of Dublin High’s French department—which has been under-resourced and in decline for years. 

 

Prior to registration, many signs had already emerged signaling that Dublin High’s French department was in peril. First, despite being one of only three verbal languages offered at Dublin High School, student representation in the French department is remarkably low: there’s only one class of Honors French 4, the only weighted French course at DHS, with a modest class size of 23. Additionally, AP French hasn’t been offered for the past two years because of a lack of student enrollment, with only sporadic offering even before that. 

 

“It’s lacking,” an anonymous Honors French student says of the French department. “I feel like people just don’t care enough about it. There’s not enough teachers so it’s not that organized. So if they [the teachers] want to do something they just do it. There’s not enough support for it.” 

 

When asked if they would be enrolling in AP French next year, this same student commented that they didn’t even feel that they had been adequately prepared for Honors French. 

 

“There’s no way,” a second Honors French student added in response to the same question. 

 

Neither the students nor the teachers are to blame for the shortcomings of the department, though. More broadly, the problem seems to be a cultural contempt for French at DHS that has hindered the progress of the French department at large. This contempt manifests in different ways: in disparaging comments about French as being “useless,” “unimportant,” or “pointless”; students attempting to sway incoming freshmen, younger siblings, and more from French in favor of Spanish, the “easier” language; and more. As a result of this hostility, students taking French are left without passion or drive studying a language culturally recognized as meaningless; fewer students are able to support the French department with an eager, excelling student body as eligible students are dissuaded from taking the class; and, as a result of declining passion and enrollment, Dublin High no longer needs to adequately support a robust French program for its students. 

 

Importantly, this indifference to French at Dublin High also harms the culture around other languages. Other languages are already losing their passionate and inquisitive student bodies: AP Mandarin is in great part taken by native and heritage speakers already familiar with Chinese language and culture (as is evidenced by the course’s unsurpassed 54.2% “5” rate in 2023), and Spanish is commonly taken purely to meet Dublin High’s foreign language requirements. The rejection of the French department, then, comes as just another blow to DHS’s collective commitment to learning new languages and discovering new cultures, further spoiling the culture around language classes at Dublin High. 

 

So, what can be done to combat this growing apathy and, hopefully, restore the vibrancy of Dublin High’s French department? For one, DHS can act by raising the foreign language requirement for graduation; instead of requiring only two years of foreign language classes, hardly enough time to make any meaningful progress in a language, Dublin Unified could require three or even four years in order for students to graduate. This could foster genuine passion in students earnestly seeking to improve their understanding of a new language. Additionally, Dublin High could offer more opportunities for acceleration, a move that would foster a—healthily—competitive foreign language culture and encourage students to meaningfully engage with the language to ascend the many French levels at DHS. 

About the Contributor
Matthew Noique, Student Life Editor
Matthew Noique is currently a sophomore at DHS. He sees writing as a form of expression and hopes to facilitate that expression as Community section editor. In his free time, he’ll hope to read a good book or, when not tirelessly occupied by the internet, will play his instrument—the saxophone—referee soccer games for money, and maybe even stop procrastinating on his homework. He looks forward to the role he’ll play in encouraging writers to write about the community and how it impacts them this year at The Dublin Shield!