The change announced yesterday in the modern language requirements for the bachelor's degree of Columbia College is very much in line with the new attitude with which educators are regarding the place of languages in the college curriculum. Similar to the system now in vogue at Harvard, the new requirements emphasize the cultural value of French and German, relegating the purely technical aspects of language study to the secondary school where they rightly belong.
It is almost an impossibility to acquire a suitable acquaintance or even a worthwhile appreciation of any language through the media of the crammed and hurried elementary courses in college. The preparatory school has both the leisure for adequate instruction and the advantage of imparting such instruction when the youthful mind is more receptive to the mechanical rote necessary for an elementary understanding. A number of secondary curricula are already so arranged that it is possible to anticipate most of the degree requirements, thus allowing the student in his college years more latitude in his choice of continuing his study in a more advanced field or of turning his interest elsewhere. Shunting the languages back to the preparatory school is merely another effort to make such schools more than means to an end, and has the added quality of ridding the universities of an undesirable burden.