Learning A Foreign Language Makes You A Better Student
Why Study a Foreign Language?
Throughout my academic career, I have spoken to many students about the importance of language classes as part of their education. What I have discovered is that while some students enjoy learning a foreign language, most others do not.
At the university level, a fair number of students were annoyed that the common curriculum required them to pass language courses to receive their degrees, and many students felt like foreign language classes distracted them from their majors – those in STEM fields were especially dissatisfied.
They often ask, “Why should I have to study a foreign language that I’ll never use?” I can certainly empathize with these feelings from my own college experience, but after many years of studying languages, I can attest to the benefits that learning a foreign language can have on other areas of life – both in and out of the classroom.
Why Learn a Foreign Language – The Knowledge You Gain from Language Learning
Studies have shown that learning a foreign language improves performance in the classroom across multiple subjects. In these studies, language learning was proven to enhance a student’s cognitive abilities, including:
● Problem-solving skills
● Verbal and Spatial abilities
● Memory Function (long & short-term)
● Creative Thinking Capacity
● Attitude Toward the Target Language and Culture
Once acquiring these skills, students demonstrated:
● Higher standardized test scores
● Higher reading achievement
● Expanded student vocabulary in their native language (English)
● Higher academic performance at the college level
These metrics were measured against their peers who did not study a foreign language in school (for more information on this data, check out this article by ACTFL).
Language learning grants students the opportunity to excel in crucial facets of both the targeted content of their major as well as the supplementary skills they need to succeed in higher education and the workforce. That being said, even if you find your language classes to be challenging or a diversion from your main objective in school, you should know that this will lead to amazing results in your personal and professional life.
The Importance of Diversity in What You Study
When reflecting on the structure of higher education in the Western world, particularly in the United States where an undergraduate is usually given 4 years to master their discipline of choice, it does not seem productive for a student to enroll in classes outside of their major. Time spent practicing irregular Spanish verbs or memorizing different kanji in Japanese could be used to work towards their primary goals, which lead to careers or graduate programs.
Assuming that this line of reasoning is true, students are led to believe that classes unrelated to their major offer them nothing of value; but this is false. The benefits of taking classes outside your major are rich and invaluable. They provide perspective into worlds with which you were previously unfamiliar. I view foreign languages as the perfect tool to access such stories as told by people from different cultures and places. From this open channel of communication comes an understanding of people from diverse backgrounds, and while major courses may prepare students for the realities of the workforce, a foreign language class provides them with the opportunity to make connections with those outside of their immediate sphere.
Finding connections is incredibly important in today’s rapidly globalizing market. A foreign language broadens the horizons of who you can meet and with whom you can form strong relationships. I look back fondly on the professional and friendly relations I have made by knowing a language other than English. A native tongue truly brings people together. Therefore, when a student bemoans registering for a required foreign language class, I would encourage them to treat it as a stepping-stone to becoming more equipped for the future that awaits them.
How to Learn a Foreign Language
Now that all of this data is out of the way, you may be asking “where can I start?” Learning a new language can be an exciting experience but also one that is overwhelming if you do not have the proper study resources in place. That’s where ReDefiners comes in! We are a non-profit language school with a mission to advocate for multiculturalism and second language acquisition around the United States.
We understand the value of language learning and the positive impact it has on our students, and that is why we believe the best way to learn a foreign language is through our online classes and workshops that we offer in English, Spanish, Arabic, and Mandarin Chinese. For more information on how to enroll follow the link below:
https://www.redefinerswl.org/online-language-program, We hope to see you in class soon!