I agree with this in theory but in practice it is much harder than it first appears. Language disabilities, bush villages, and many other factors contribute to making this a meaningless credit if not done well. Without teachers that actually have an understanding of the nuances of the culture it can make people just think they know about a culture. So you tried Brie in French class, whoop-de-doo. In some places learning how to survive at college IS learning about a different culture. If you grew up knowing how to skin seals, sew waterproof clothing, etc but got locked out of college because you didn't have a foreign language down that says a lot to me about how well academia has become open minded about other cultures by knowing an extra language or two.
Different perspectives are good. If that is what you want then a replacement credit could include a cultural studies class where you read the literature in translation, listen to interviews or lectures from someone who actually grew up in that culture, and perhaps study some of the differences of the language.
The colleges want 2-3 years of the same language to gain proficiency though. So what exacatly is the goal of that requirement?
I do like that our local public schoool district has multiple immersion schools. By the time they are in high school they can be fluent and focus on specific goals for their career, etc. That is one way to do it well. But as it is right now for what seems to be a majority of Americans, it is a box to check and then it becomes worthless. The disconnect I see is that requirements don't make things happen well. They are just requirements. My children's great opportunities probably look different then other people's great opportunities. To take advantage of them I can't fill all my time checking boxes.
But the majority of American kids do not grow up in a bush village skinning seals.
And yes, proficient teachers are necessary, in every subject. I cannot wrap my mind around how this works here that teachers who are not fluent in a language are required to teach that language, it makes no sense.
But with the US being a country formed by immigration, it would be so incredibly easy to find people fluent in other languages. How can it not be par for the course to provide symmetric bilingual instruction in states that have a high percentage of Spanish speaking immigrants? that is just dumb politics that wastes so much potential.