WHS Alumnus Tim Markatos Advocates for Middle School Foreign Languages


The Foreign Language department celebrates the opening of the new language lab.

Sydney Gillis

The Foreign Language department celebrates the opening of the new language lab.


In recent weeks, The Rebellion has been inundated with letters from alumni advocating for Foreign Languages in the middle schools. Every Monday a letter will be posted from an alumnus. The following is by Tim Markatos, a member of the Class of 2011. Markatos is currently enrolled as a student at Georgetown University.


Traditionally, reading, writing, and arithmetic have been held as the three tenets of education. Nowadays, no one will argue that science and social studies are not equally important aspects of a student’s education. I would now assert that foreign languages are just as necessary as all of these other subject areas, especially given the context of the global world in which we live today.

Studying a foreign language not only prepares students for international careers, but it also gives students the opportunity to become immersed in a culture other than their own. Cutting middle school language programs would put Walpole students at a severe disadvantage when searching for colleges and careers later in life; moreover, without this current two-year language introductory program in place, students would be more hesitant, and possibly even resistant, to start a foreign language in high school.

I can personally attest to the strength of Walpole’s foreign language programs, its French curriculum in particular. As a student of Georgetown University in Washington, DC, I have found that a great majority of my peers have either studied or lived abroad before coming to college. These cosmopolitan students represent some of the best and brightest of my generation, and I would surely be at a disadvantage when it comes to my foreign language studies were it not for the ample preparation the Walpole schools gave me. As a freshman, I scored high enough on Georgetown’s French language placement test to immediately start taking 250-level gateway courses, a two-semester sequence in French cultures and literature designed for students with advanced knowledge of the French language. I have taken these classes, which are taught entirely in French by native speakers, alongside peers who have studied in language immersion programs in Europe or who have grown up in French-speaking families. Though I lack the same type of background in the language, I am still more than capable of holding my own ground in these courses, all thanks to the power of Walpole’s French curriculum.

Now more than ever is not the time to truncate our foreign language curricula, especially given how strong they are. If we deprive our students of the opportunity to acquire mastery of foreign languages, we are effectively limiting their futures by depriving them of the adequate skills required for success in today’s global climate.