Why Learn Foreign Language

Why Should Young Children Learn a Foreign Language?

“Learning to speak another’s language means taking one’s place in the human community. It means reaching out to others across cultural and linguistic boundaries. Language is far more than a system to be explained. It is our most important link to the world around us. Language is culture in motion. It is people interacting with people.”

-Sandra Savignon (1983)

*Children who have studied a foreign language in elementary school achieve expected gains and have even higher scores on standardized tests in reading, language arts, and mathematics than those who have not.

*Children who have studied a foreign language show greater cognitive develop- ment in such areas as mental flexibility, creativity, divergent thinking, and higher-order thinking skills.

*Studies show that children as young as 3-4 years of age begin to develop impressions, positive and negative, about other peoples and customs. This process continues until it begins to solidify into stereotypes by the time they are 10-12 years of age. Providing opportunities for very young children to learn about and experience other cultures gives them a more global perspective before negative stereotypes become entrenched.

*Studying a foreign language helps students increase their sensitivity to and understanding of the language, values, customs, and traditions of others. This in turn fosters a sense of humanity, friendship, and diversity awareness.

*Brain researchers have discovered that a window of opportunity exists for optimal foreign language acquisition which diminishes after the age of 10.

*Being proficient in a foreign language provides students with a much greater skill set upon graduation from highschool, and therefore greater opportunities both professionally and personally. Being culturally literate as well as linguistically proficient are skills multinational corporations, governmental agencies, and international organizations such as the EU, the UN, and NATO all say are critical to the future.

*Becoming highly proficient in a foreign language requires a great deal of time, practice, and exposure to the language. The earlier a student starts, the greater the level of proficiency he/she will ultimately achieve.

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