Why Your Child Should
Study Foreign Languages
Language is at the core of human existence. Through language we express the hopes and dreams we hold for our families, our state and our nation. The ability to communicate in a second language enables us to know the hopes, dream and visions of others around the world. The study of foreign languages prepares today’s youth for tomorrow’s opportunities by supporting basic skills instruction, developing cross cultural understanding and preparing our youth to enter the global marketplace. Sequential foreign language study yields many benefits:
Listening Skills - Foreign language study has been shown to enhance listening skills and memory, contributing a significant additional dimension to the concept of communication.
Reading Skills - In the area of language arts, students of second languages are thought to improve their reading comprehension in the native language and also score higher in reading achievement.
Higher Scores - During the past several years, data from the Admissions Testing Program of the College Board definitely show a positive correlation between SAT scores and the study of foreign languages:
- Each year of study correlates to increasingly higher scores. No other subject area, when isolated, produced these results.
- English and mathematics performance levels of students who have studied a foreign language in high school are higher than those of students who have not.
- Detailed studies also suggest that the mental processing skills required to do mathematics problems are also developed by language processing, and vice versa.
Cultural Pluralism - Children who have studied a foreign language develop a sense of cultural pluralism, openness to and appreciation of other cultures.
Career Development - The Nebraska Foreign Language Frameworks (1996) states that learning a foreign language provides a competitive edge in career choices in today’s and tomorrow’s world. This is substantiated by employers in New York State who, when interviewed by the New York State Department of Labor, expressed a desire for workers who can communicate in a second language.
Global Economy - The global economy is a fact of life in the 21st Century. Some pertinent figures are listed below:
- One out of every six production jobs in the U.S. depends on foreign trade.
- One half of the top profit making companies on Fortune Magazine’s “500” list are foreign owned.
- Four out of five new jobs in the U.S. are created as a result of foreign trade.
- Twenty million foreigners travel annually to the U.S. and spend $8 billion. They spend nearly $1 billion in New York City alone.
Reprinted with permission: New York State Association of Foreign Language Teachers