Recently, the UK version of the Huffington Post blog published a list of eight reasons why you should learn a language. Although the list was directed at post-secondary students, some of its insights can be applied to the needs of the K-12 student.
The case for language learning providing a boost for the brain is growing stronger. Critical thinking, multitasking, and problem solving skills (all defined as 21st century skills) are stronger in multilingual people compared to their monolingual cohorts. In this way, the benefits of language learning translate across the curriculum, affecting the student’s other classes.
Going Into the Real World
Students who speak multiple languages, especially those languages spoken in economically-developing countries, are highly sought after in the employment market. An increasing number of companies are expanding their presences to foreign countries and the prospect who can more easily bridge those gaps will have a leg up on the competition.
Although technology has interconnected the world, there is still a need for businesses to send employees on long-term assignments to foreign countries. A person with the applicable language skills will find it much easier to assimilate into their new surroundings and handle the stressful situations that come along with living in a new country.
When learning a language, students naturally absorb some knowledge about the culture of the foreign land. Cultural competency is just as sought after in the job market as language skills. This understanding can also serve a student by providing study abroad opportunities.
Aside from the cognitive benefits of language learning, students also receive a boost in their English/language arts classes. Language learning forces the student to think deeply about how our own language is organized, improving grammar and vocabulary.
Although a student’s entire curriculum is designed to benefit him or her in their adulthood, language learning has demonstrated concrete value that can improve their prospects in college and career.