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Benefits of Language Learning

What?

We believe that all students should learn or maintain at least one world language in addition to English. Therefore, language learning should be a central part of any curriculum.

Why?

In the 21st Century knowing a second language is not only beneficial, but necessary for success in life. The continual globalization of the world’s economy is bringing diverse cultures and communities into more frequent contact with each other.  The ease of global travel and the internet have collapsed the barrier of distance that once kept the world’s communities separate.  From the corporate marketplace to the individual consumer, from the pre-schools to universities, from the beach vacationer to the global jet set, the world community has become integrated and interdependent. Institutions of higher learning are scrutinizing applicants to identify future world leaders.  Employers and businesses are seeking applicants who can navigate the modern global economy.  It is through learning another language that students can develop both these skill sets.  Learning another language also provides many other benefits including greater academic achievement, greater cognitive development, and more positive attitudes towards other languages and cultures. Simply put, language learning is necessary for students to effectively function in the modern global marketplace.

In addition to meeting the needs of future students, language learning has been shown to greatly enhance student performance across the curriculum. Language learning has been shown to improve a student’s cognitive function, including, but not limited to:

  • Enhanced Problem Solving Skills
  • Improved Verbal and Spatial Abilities
  • Improved Memory Function (long & short-term)
  • Enhanced Creative Thinking Capacity
  • Better Memory
  • More Flexible and Creative Thinking
  • Improved Attitude Toward the Target Language and Culture

These cognitive benefits of language learning have been shown to enhance student performance producing:

  • Higher standardized test scores
  • Higher reading achievement
  • Expanded student vocabulary in native language (English)
  • Higher academic performance at the college level  

How?

In order to make language learning a central part of the curriculum, we must

  • Engage in effective professional development programs for world language teachers to maintain relevance in FL classroom
  • Better engage language teachers in advocacy movements
  • Advocate for language programs in order to convince administration at all levels  
  • Engage legislative bodies to adopt priorities consistent with this goal
  • Inform parents of not only cognitive and academic benefits but career benefits as well

Find Out More:  

Armstrong, P. W., & Rogers, J. D. (1997). Basic skills revisited: The effects of foreign language instruction on reading, math, and language arts. Learning Languages, 2(3), 20-31.

Hamayan, E. (1986). The need for foreign language competence in the U.S. Washington, DC: ERIC Clearing House on Languages and Linguistics.

Larson-Hall, J. (2008). Weighing the benefits of studying a foreign language at a younger starting age in a minimal input situation. Second language research, 24(1), 35-63.

Lazaruk, W. (2007). Linguistic, academic and cognitive benefits of French immersion. Canadian Modern Language Review, 5, 605-627.

Morgan, C. (1993). Attitude change and foreign language culture learning. Language Teaching, 26(2), pp. 63-75.

Sanz, C. (2000). Bilingual education enhances third language acquisition: Evidence from Catalonia. Applied psycholinguistics, 21(01), 23-44.

Stewart, J. H. (2005). Foreign language study in elementary schools: Benefits and implications for achievement in reading and math. Early Childhood Education Journal, 33(3), 11-16.

ACTFL:  https://www.actfl.org/advocacy/what-the-research-shows


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