Learning a Second Language: Benefits and Considerations
Learning a second language is not nationally mandated, however many elementary and high schools are requiring their students to do just that. It may seem like a cool thing to do, but the question is: Is there any value to acquiring a second language? Many educators claim that there is.
Benefits of Learning a Second Language
It may sound odd, but research shows that teaching students a second language may actually help them get a firm grasp on their first language (Lang, Susan, "Learning a Second Language is Good Childhood Mind Medicine," Cornell Chronicle, May 2014). In addition, it helps develop a longer attention span and improves listening and memory skills. Learning about a different language and culture also helps to promote cultural sensitivity. In fact, the benefits of learning a second language go way beyond the classroom. Looking into the future, we can see that having another language under your belt makes a big difference when it comes to employment opportunities as well.
Cons of Teaching Students a Second Language
On the other hand, some say that while second language learning is nice, it is not necessary or very beneficial to students. Rather, that time and money could be better spent on something else. Instead of worrying about teaching a second language, we should be focusing our resources on improving core subjects that students require to get into colleges and find better careers.
Teaching Children a Second Language
The younger children are, the higher their level of language acquisition will be (Soderman, A, "Using Stories to Extinguish the Hot Spots in Second Language Acquisition," Young Children, March 2013). Therefore, if you are going to be teaching a second language, begin during elementary school or early childhood. In nursery classes that include a language immersion program, students not only learn to understand a second language and use it at a young age, but they also really enjoy it.
Second Language Learning – A Worthwhile Investment
The benefits of knowing a second language can serve our students long after they have graduated and moved on to college and careers. Second language learning exercises the mind and opens up multiple possibilities in many different areas. While it certainly requires precious resources on the part of schools and educators, learning a second language is certainly a worthwhile investment.