The Importance of Learning Foreign Languages Essay
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Language is a key part of any family, community, culture and the human race. Without language the world today would be much different. From cavemen, to the Egyptian use of hieroglyphics, to Old English, to more than 6,500 languages spoken around the world today, the advances that humans have made in language is remarkable and inspiring. The ability to speak, read, write and understand more than one language is also remarkable and expands the liberties in life, especially for young people. High school students should be required to take at least two years of a foreign language class in order to graduate, as many recent studies support the benefits of doing so. Students who have learned a foreign language in high school have proven to have a…show more content…
Requiring two years of foreign language study for high school graduation would benefit students greatly as they move onto college. Acceptance rate, ability to succeed in and graduation rate would increase greatly if all college students were bilingual. Some students would argue that taking a foreign language class in high school would not benefit them after graduation, as they plan to study a major in which being multilingual is not essential. This may seem reasonable as some majors, such as cosmetology or psychology may not ever use a foreign language nor require further study of a foreign language. However, studies have shown that studying a foreign language builds more skills than just language. Memorization, critical thinking and interpretation skills improve immensely in those students who take a foreign language class in high school (“Benefits and Opportunities” 1). Students can then use these skills to improve academic performance in other areas, improving overall college success. Globalization has recently reached the corporate world, and seemed to be instantaneous. Around 40 percent of large U.S. companies have reached overseas, allowing them to profit from the markets of foreign countries. Due to the rapid increase of companies becoming multinational, major businesses seek to hire employees who are able to speak more than one language, as multilingual candidates are equipped
Did you know that our world has about 6,500 languages? Sadly, only 20 percent of Americans speak a language other than English, but I think there is a solution to this. Over the past couple years, I have begun to notice that in many schools in the U.S., including mine, students don’t start the process of learning a new language until middle school. It would be extremely beneficial if schools instead thought about putting more money into acquiring bilingual programs for grammar school students.
The easiest way for someone to become bilingual is to start at a very young age, because their brain absorbs the sounds and rules of a new language naturally just like their native tongue. The older you get, the harder it is to learn a language because you have to study grammar rules and work around your already developed first language.
Some people think that a child only has room for one language in their life, and that to learn a second one, they would find it confusing. This is not true and in fact some places, such as Switzerland, have students learn up to two additional languages and by the time they graduate high school many of them are even trilingual.
A new language is one of the most rewarding experiences for anyone, but even more so at a young age. “During the first three years of life, the foundations for thinking, language, visions, attitude, aptitude, and other characteristics are laid down. It would be a waste not to use a child’s natural ability to learn during his or her most vital years when learning a second language is as easy as learning the first,” says Ronald Kotulak, author of “Inside the Brain.”
Some of the most crucial benefits of being bilingual are that a child’s focus, memory, planning and multitasking skills are better than if they are monolingual. Children can also ignore distractions easier because the part of their brain called the “executive function” is stronger in bilinguals, and this of course would benefit their academic performance in the classroom.
A second language can also help when traveling, especially a common one such as Spanish or French. Vacations to foreign countries would be more enjoyable, and it would open people’s minds to the different cultures of the world. My mother and father are fluent in Italian and English, so I know what it is like to be around someone bilingual.
A few years ago, my family and I visited Italy, where most of our relatives live. It was an amazing experience, but I felt a little bit out of place not being fully proficient in the language. Now, I think about how different that trip would have been if I had been able to communicate better. Everyday activities like listening to local music, watching a movie, or just getting a cup of coffee would have been effortless if I had known Italian.
Bilingualism at a young age also leads to many advantages in the long run, such as getting into a good college and having more career options. A second or third language can boost your chances of getting into a more academically advanced institution. Foreign language SAT tests are a great way of standing out during the college admission process. It’s important to show them what you’re capable of, and it can give you a head start by allowing you to complete the basic language requirement before other students. As the world is becoming more globalized, knowing a foreign language in business is also valuable. For example, someone who speaks Spanish has the advantage of communicating with people from 21 different countries worldwide. When applying for a new job, companies will certainly take this into consideration. If schools would teach languages from kindergarten through high school, more students would have the chance to go on to college, and have successful careers.