Studium, Discere et Loqui (Study, Speak & Learn).

I remember a time when all school kids would have to learn Latin and another language of their choice, typically French or Spanish. Today, Latin seems to have gone the way of the Do-Do in public schools and the teaching of second languages is almost a passing thought. This is a shame because learning a second language, particularly in specialised schools or in academic settings, helps students in multiple ways. With the global world being so connected and intertwined, having language skills only helps the student and gives them an added competitive edge going into the world job market.

According to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), there is not only a correlation between cognitive abilities and language skills, “There is evidence bilingualism correlates with increased cognitive development and abilities.” This means that as a student learns a foreign language, the cognitive skills of the student grow as well. This makes the learning of foreign and secondary languages nothing but a win-win. Young students are not the only ones to have benefits in language studies.

The ACTFL also showed conclusively that older and senior students who take on language lessons help offset age related cognitive loss. Imagine, being a senior and finally taking those French lessons, only to find you become sharper and see marked improvements in memory. These are some of the hidden benefits of specialised schools and the teaching of secondary languages.

Another often overlooked benefit is increased vocabulary and language skills in your first language. This is especially true for anyone who has ever studied the aforementioned Latin. With many words in various languages sharing common roots, it becomes easier to recognise stems of the words and make educated guesses as to worked meanings and definitions. Memory skills are also increased as a result of socialised classes and language training. This is because the memory centers of the brain are called upon to store and remember the new vocabulary, alphabet and phonetics associated with the new language.

Of course, the ability to converse and communicate with people who do not speak English, but the language learned, is nothing but a benefit. This carries through in the specialised classrooms should there be foreign students or those who are on exchange programs. Being able to communicate effectively with them means the language skills open up new worlds of friendships and interactions, something that can only lead to better understanding of those who appear different and have a different language.

The State of Connecticut conducted a several year long study regarding second language classes and learning within the state public school system and concluded that learning and teaching second languages gave the students better chances at college acceptance and higher earning potential in the future. Students who took and learned a second language were also found to have higher self-esteem and better confidence in navigating their days.

There really is no downside to learning a second language!


This article was written by E. Cedric

E. Cedric speaks three languages, two of them fluently. A native English speaker, Cedric grew up within 10 miles of the Canadian border and spent his youth watching “The Amazing Spiderman” in French. Cedric has traveled the world, learning new languages and phrases wherever he ended up, and loves to combine his passion for languages with his love for education. Currently, when he’s not contributing to college resource website DegreeJungle, Cedric is working on perfecting his Russian.

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