Why Language Learning
Learning a second language is no longer a luxury; it is a necessary skill that students must have in order to compete in a global economy. It broadens their opportunities in higher education, and research shows that learning a second language helps children in their overall cognitive development.
Numerous studies have revealed that children who study a foreign language:
- Perform better and produce higher scores on standardized tests.
- Show greater cognitive development in such areas as mental flexibility, creativity, divergent thinking and higher-order thinking skills.
- Develop a sense of cultural pluralism.
- Improve their self-concept and overall sense of achievement in school.
In addition, students who begin learning languages at a young age, such as in elementary school, have a higher chance of attaining near-native and even complete native fluency.
In today's world, opportunities in higher education and the global marketplace increasingly require multilingual skills. According to the U.S. Committee on Economic Development, America will "need employees with knowledge of foreign languages and cultures to market products to customers around the globe and to work effectively with foreign employees and partners in other countries."
Unfortunately, the U.S. educational system lags far behind in preparing its students to meet these needs. The most recent statistics show that:
- 21 of the top 25 industrialized countries begin the study of world languages in grades K-5, while the majority of U.S. students begin studying a second language at age 14. (U.S. Committee on Economic Development)
- 80% of students in Europe speak at least two languages.
- Of the over 55 million students in U.S. public schools, only 50,000 students study Mandarin Chinese - a language spoken by over 1 billion people worldwide.
- Only 14% of U.S. students consider themselves bilingual.
The worst of these cases occur in underserved communities around the country, where public elementary schools do not or cannot afford to provide courses for languages other than English. Therefore, schoolchildren in these communities are excluded from the cognitive and competitive benefits that learning a second language offers.
Global Language Project wants to give them that opportunity.