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Should a foreign language be a compulsory subject at school? Posted Jul 4, 2019

Some experts claim that young people should study foreign languages since a primary school or even a kindergarten. Experts from Pro-Papers have analyzed arguments in favor of this approach and presented them in the article below.

Ability to speak to more people

Should a foreign language be a compulsory subject at school?

Kids studying foreign languages prepare for adult life in the globalization era. Technology development erases borders between countries and allows people from all over the world to communicate online. Speaking English is already a common courtesy for every literate person, while knowing Hindi or Spanish definitely may be a memorable skill.

If using an interlocutor’s native language, a person can reach better understanding and make a good impression, open up boundless career-building and touristic opportunities, go on exciting trips, experience unforgettable emotions, understand how different people see the world, communicate with locals instead of asking a guide about everything.

Training a brain

Researches have studied mind processes of bilinguals and monolinguals. It turned out that the former are better at multi-tasking activities. Also, brain scanning has shown that persons speaking foreign languages have larger gray matter volume in areas responsible for executive functions. It was concluded that bilinguals train their brains by choosing between languages appropriate for different situations. This “gymnastics” helps them to quickly focus attention.

Even year-old kids of bilingual parents show better cognitive abilities than kids whose moms and dads use only one language at home. This pattern gives reasons to believe the best way to develop children’s intelligence is educating them in a bilingual environment.

Boosting scores in core subjects

Statistics showed that young people studying foreign languages excel in other disciplines. This conclusion was made based on ACT and SAT results of thousands of high school students. Therefore, if educational institutions want to boost their learners’ academic performance, it is worth making a foreign language an obligatory part of a curriculum.

More profound knowledge of a native language

Some parents afraid that a foreign language may confuse a kid and create mess in one’s head. But there are no reasons to worry. After getting acquainted with new words and expressions, young people look at their native language from an unusual perspective, analyze it more profoundly and reach a new proficiency level.

Also, researchers have found out that bilingual kids start reading earlier, have fewer grammatical mistakes and awkward sentences in their essays. The earlier they start learning the second language, the more remarkable these talents are.

It is easier to learn a foreign language as a child

Childhood is a period when any new information is absorbed with ease. Experts claim that there is a critical moment for acquaintance with foreign languages when human mind is most flexible and ready to learn. It is very important not to miss it because educational abilities decline in post-puberty. In addition, it may be challenging for an adult person to find time for language courses and try something new, so it is parents’ responsibility to care about their child’s future.

As early as 8-12 months, babies start focusing on sounds typical for their native language and ignoring extraneous sounds. But if interacting with bilingual parents, they do not lose sensitivity to foreign speech.

Kids aged 7-8 can master the second language with accent, large vocabulary and good grammar. After this age, their learning talents weaken. In addition, it is easier for bilinguals to master third, fourth languages and so on. Therefore, if parents want their child to be an easy learner, it is better to acquaint one with foreign languages as soon as possible.

Boosting empathy

Studies have shown that children educated in bilingual environments are more prone to analyzing other people’s emotions and adjusting behavior patterns to make communication comfortable for all participants. It is easier for them to understand an interlocutor’s perspective.

This may be explained by the fact that such children often have to analyze why people use different languages in multilingual environments, what they try to say. As a result, any other differences (religious, racial, gender) are perceived with respect. These kids become polite and caring, get accustomed to always checking whether people around understand them and are not offended by incorrectly chosen words.

Cross-cultural thinking

We live in the large, interesting world. There are so many wonderful places and unique cultures. It would be way too boring to spend all life in one city. Learning a native language of a country is the first step to acquaintance with its history, traditions, local rules and customs.

Researchers claim that language is not only the way to transmit information. It also shapes our worldview. Therefore, kids may learn to think outside the box, look at things from different angles, notice small details, boost their creative skills and ingenuity.

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