McWhorter urges Americans to drop their French classes and learn a more practical language:
One learns French to communicate with … who, exactly? Some will yearn to read Sartre and Molière; more power to them. But what about languages like Spanish and Chinese, which are useful to learn because we encounter them in everyday life? I have seen medical professionals just miss getting plum jobs in New York because a competitor happened to speak Spanish, and Chinese will be increasingly important in the business world. Arabic skills, meanwhile, are achingly needed on the geopolitical scene. It’s swell that knowing French allows you to ignore subtitles in the occasional art house film, but unclear why this would be considered a priority of childrearing.