What Your Foreign Language Requirement Says About You

Everyone does it. There’s no reason to feel weird about it. It’s a completely normal function of the student body. That’s right. I’m talking about fulfilling Yale’s foreign language requirement.

Whether you’re fluent in 5 different languages or speak only English (with the same eloquence as a toddler), everyone has to complete at least one term of the infamous foreign language requirement.

Of course, as with most aspects of Yale life, there are prevailing stereotypes that come with what language you choose to fulfill this requirement. We at the Boola decided to take a look at these stereotypes here.



You’re a Global Affairs and Political Science double major who “wants to make the world a better place.” After law school, you’ll latch onto Hillary’s 2024 presidential campaign and afterwards you’ll wonder how Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was elected the 46th President of the United States. Deep down, you hope that this L1 class gives you the necessary vocabulary to win political office in Florida or Arizona. How could you not, right? Your elementary Spanish makes you so relatable to the pueblo! It worked for Jeb! so why not you? Say it with me now: “Nunca seré presidente de los Estados Unidos.



How do you say “edgy” in French? You’re a Literature major. You get unnecessarily defensive when someone calls you a softboi. You consider being called a section asshole a compliment because “it means I’m an engaged intellectual.” You took DS in your freshman first year and never miss an opportunity to remind someone that you’re actually fluent in Spanish (you conveniently leave out that you placed into L3 Spanish) and decided to take French because you came to Yale to learn. Your family is wealthy but you refuse to let them pay for your education beyond tuition, room, and board. Oh, and books too. If you want that new Patagonia jacket, you’re gonna have to put in some grueling hours at your job in Sterling Library and pay for it yourself!



Your major is Russian. You took The Cold War with John Gaddis and became a leading expert in all things Russian. After spending a summer studying in Russia, you now only drink Russian vodka and berate people who drink chasers. Your obsession with Vladimir Putin has gotten a little weird. Part of you doesn’t want to admit that his risqué pics on a horse turn you on. You have strong opinions about everything, even – or especially – if you don’t know what you’re talking about. You keep a beard year round and mock people who complain about the cold.



As-salaam-alaikum, amirite? You are a native Arabic speaker. You are originally from an Arabic speaking country and when people ask why you are taking L2 Arabic you reply that you can’t speak the “standard” form of Arabic, only your local dialect. You just “really love to learn.” You score 100% on every assessment. You are an EP&E major and on Saturday nights you can usually be found hanging around Global Grounds playing a heated game of Resistance.



Your major is Economics. You’ve always been into dumplings and “foreign food” because you’re person of high culture. You’re applying for a “little side scholarship” that has the potential to ship you off to the other side of the world. You find China to be “mysterious” and “appealing” (Read: Ben Frank goes far in the Chi-town, especially for those investments into “clean-energy” you plan on making a couple years down the road). You have mixed opinions about the political situation in China, and enjoy dropping those “er’s” to highlight your sophisticated Beijing accent. You always insist that Chinese is “objectively the hardest language to learn as an English speaker.” That’s okay, Daddy Light’s got you.



You’re a history major because it has the least number of required credits. You were personally offended by Cole Aronson’s “Admission and Athletics” op-ed in the YDN. You have no interest in learning the language and are quite vocal about the fact that you took Indonesian because it is an easy class. You feel that the time you spend studying for Indonesian would be better spent on your extracurricular activities. After all, Jingle Jams at Zeta isn’t gonna throw itself!



You can now communicate with 20% of Yale’s population in their native tongue. Get networking. Shalom, motherfuckers.