Editorial: Learning 2nd language vital to teenage development

Above%2C+Pre-AP+and+AP+Spanish+teacher+Francisco+Salas+points+to+the+requirements+for+what+students+in+Pre-AP+Spanish+3+are+learning+on+that+day.+Mr.+Salas+holds+a+Masters+of+Arts+in+Spanish+Linguistics+and+Literature%2C+as+well+as+a+BBA+in+Accounting+and+a+BA+in+Spanish.+%22I+love+how+every+day+in+Spanish+3+we+learn+something+new.%22+Kalyani+Rao+said.+%22Se%C3%B1or+Salas+explains+grammar+concepts+in+ways+that+are+easy+to+grasp+for+us.+Every+class+unit+we+get+closer+to+becoming+fluent.%22

Above, Pre-AP and AP Spanish teacher Francisco Salas points to the requirements for what students in Pre-AP Spanish 3 are learning on that day. Mr. Salas holds a Masters of Arts in Spanish Linguistics and Literature, as well as a BBA in Accounting and a BA in Spanish. “I love how every day in Spanish 3 we learn something new.” Kalyani Rao said. “Señor Salas explains grammar concepts in ways that are easy to grasp for us. Every class unit we get closer to becoming fluent.”

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Students across the U.S. are familiar with the requirements for graduating high school. Under most graduation plans in Texas, students are required to take at least two years of a foreign language. The outcome of learning two years of a language is not fluency, which is considered full knowledge of a second language, so even though these students are taking a second language, they are not considered bilingual unless they proceed to four to five years and can speak it fluently. Most students don’t choose to continue beyond two or three years of a second language, but research and case studies suggest they should rethink this.

First, learning a second language proves to improve academic achievement and thinking skills. J.M. Cade studied in depth the foreign language departments in the Missouri Public School District. The program discovered that second language learners had on average higher test scores, better comprehension and creative thinking skills, better development of their first language, and attracted more parental involvement. The study is based on the foreign language immersion program in the Kansas City and Missouri Public Schools in 1986-1996.

The infographic above demonstrates the main perks of learning a language as described in the accompanying editorial. According to the article, benefits exist in everyday life for those who are bilingual. “Second language learners have on average higher test scores, better comprehension and creative thinking skills, better development of their first language, and attract more parental involvement,” said Kalyani Rao on behalf of the editorial board. “Extensive studies show that second languages are becoming increasingly more important than they have been in the past.” (Raquelle Smith)

Some consider secondary languages to be unimportant and just an outlier to academic achievement, unnecessary for success. This can be disputed, however, because extensive studies such as the one mentioned above show that second languages are becoming increasingly more important than they have been.

As well, a second language will open up more job opportunities. The report “Not Lost in Translation: The Growing Importance of Foreign Language Skills in the U.S. Job Market” finds that over the past five years, demand for bilingual workers in the U.S. has more than doubled. Job postings aimed at bilingual workers were around 240,000 in 2010. By 2015, that number had grown to approximately 630,000, according to this report.

In fact, jobs seeking bilingual workers are more available than others, and they are greatly in demand, making it an easy and accessible option for those who need work quickly in different areas — if they took a second language in high school or as an adult. Often jobs seeking bilingual workers pay more for those additional skills.

According to Beth Daley, Editor and General Manager of The Conversation, fluency in a second language provides greater access to education and opportunities abroad. People who are bilingual or trilingual have the opportunity to earn a degree in a foreign country, which often is much less expensive than getting a degree in the U.S. As well, it enables experience in a foreign environment, which opens up cultural appreciation and understanding.

Have you taken more than two years of a second language?

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An opposing view of this is that plenty of opportunities exist in our home country. Going abroad seems unnecessary. As the world becomes increasingly intertwined, and globalization merges cultures, it is becoming more and more important to be immersed in cultures around the world to stay on top of opportunities.

Learning a second language is vital to thriving in the world of 2020. The best part is that it’s really easy. Most high school students have free access to at least one second language course. Adults can sign up for a language course for free, using DuoLingo, or sign up for a subscription with well-known language course programs such as Rosetta Stone.