Lawmakers in five states debating if computer coding should count as a foreign language in schools

DENVER, Colo. -- There is a push in schools across the country to add computer coding to the curriculum.

Florida lawmakers recently debated becoming the first state to try it. The state Senate passed the bill, but it died in the House. Legislators in four other states are currently discussing similar bills.

The inputs, outputs, characters and numbers make up our every conversation from text messages to Internet history. Even though we use it every day, to many of us, the coding language is foreign.

"Everything, everyone, is always computing," said Dr. Steven J. Beaty, a computer science professor at Metropolitan State University. "Let's put a language around that. Let's have a way of expressing that, both to ourselves and to everyone else."

At Arrupe Jesuit High School in Denver, students use technology in the classroom and their personal lives.

"I'm always snapchatting and on Twitter," said Marissa Chavez, a high school senior. "I text a lot."

Her Spanish teacher believes all of the added phone communication takes away from the generation's traditional conversations.

"These days, the social media is kind of taking advantage of those social relationships," said Maria Elena Navarro Lopez, who teaches Spanish at the school. "It's very important to keep reminding ourselves to talk to each other with a language, and face each other."

There is one advantage coding has over traditional languages -- it's not limited to certain parts of the world. The very nature of speaking in numbers opens up a global conversation.

"It is a different language, and it does allow us to express things we haven't been able to express before," said Beaty. "So from that point of view, I think learning how to code, learning how to program, is a very applicable life skill for essentially everybody."

But, even those who would benefit most still hesitate to classify it as a "language."

"I think a language requires personal interaction, and caring about other people, and eye contact, and the physical stuff is what really makes a conversation," said Chavez. "If you're at a computer, you can't really do that."

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