Blog: The Benefits of Learning a Second Language in School
Benefits of Learning a Second Language in School
Many studies have found cognitive benefits to learning a second language. However, bilingual individuals are still rare in the United States. *In fact, only 15–20% of Americans can speak two languages fluently. The best way to learn a second language is to start at a young age. When you learn a second language in school, you can enjoy the benefits of being bilingual throughout your life.
The following are some benefits of learning a second language in school.
Improves Understanding of First Language
Many people don’t realize the mechanics of their first language until they learn a second language. When you learn a new language, you begin to understand how each language has separate conjugations, sentence structures, and grammar rules. If you understand how other languages have these components, you can start to manipulate and structure your own language better. These language skills can help you speak and write more effectively in your first language.
Enhances Cognitive Skills
Some studies indicate that bilingual individuals are better at problem solving and more creative than individuals who only speak one language. When children learn how to speak another language in school, they learn a higher order of thinking that requires them to solve problems and manipulate language.
*In fact, according to 2007 research from the National Endowment for the Arts, children who learn more than one language tend to perform better on intelligence tests than children who only know one language. Children who learn a second world language also tend to be better listeners as well.
Additionally, learning a new language requires children to practice how to focus their attention for longer spans of time. Some researchers suggest that adolescence is the ideal time to learn a language. In fact, learning new languages often comes naturally to most children. Unfortunately, the talent to learn new languages often fades as individuals grow older.
Increases Sense of Accomplishment
Children who succeed in learning a second world language often feel a strong sense of accomplishment. When a child excels in learning a new language, he or she also tends to have a better self-image and satisfaction regarding school. Kids who learn a second world language not only feel more accomplished because they can speak another language, but they also tend to perform better in other school subjects as well.
Children can carry this new sense of accomplishment throughout their life. Many companies value employees who can speak more than one language. As much of the business world works on a global scale, the need for bilingual speakers is very important. When a child learns a second language, they put themselves at an advantage for future career opportunities.
Improves Test Scores
*Some studies show that students who learn a second language tend to perform better on standardized tests. For instance, the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) has seen better scores from students who studied a second language for at least four years. Four-year bilingual students tend to score better on math and verbal portions of the SAT by more than 100 points.
Some educators equate our brains to muscles because the brain functions better when we exercise it. Kids who learn a second language improve their memory by learning new vocabulary regularly. As children memorize vocabulary and rules, the mental “muscles” in their brains are stretched and strengthened. If children regularly exercise their memory, they can often remember sequences and lists better, such as names, directions, or shopping lists.
If you’re interested in helping your child learn a new language, consider signing him or her up for an international school. Many international schools have students from various countries, which means your child can learn a second language with students from countries who speak that language.
*Statistics sited from the following resource: http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/PDF/Curriculum/Curriculum_Root_Web_Folder/BenefitsofSecondLanguage.pdf