Bidding farewell to the foreign label

Graphic by Alli '17 and Evelyn '17

Graphic by Alli ’17 and Evelyn ’17

The Marlborough language department decided to change their title from “foreign languages” to “world languages” in order to reflect more diversity and inclusivity in the School community last month.

World Language Department Head Leigh Hansen said the department believed “foreign” has the wrong connotation.

“I think one of the reasons is that ‘foreign’ means [being] sort of remote, [having] nothing to do with us. It can even mean something bad,” Hansen said. “We have all these languages in our community…You hear them all the time.”

According to Hansen, the new title is not an uncommon or unique name. After researching other schools, the department realized that many schools similar to Marlborough have recently renamed their language departments “World Languages,” “Modern Languages,” or even simply “Languages.”

“I didn’t really think about this before the change, but for me, ‘foreign’ has a negative connotation, while ‘world’ just seems more neutral and less alienating,” Kay Katada ’17, who is bilingual and speaks Japanese at home, said.

Hansen said that she hopes that the new name will help tie Marlborough to the rest of the world.

“We’re not viewing the world languages as something that’s apart from us….‘World Languages’ reflects more of the interest we have in what’s going on globally,” Hansen said.