The Importance of Foreign Language

Reagan Logan, Writer

Foreign languages are notably unappreciated and undervalued in schools across the country. The American convictions that uphold this failure are easily disproved, especially as facts are considered that demonstrate the value of bilingualism and intercultural exchange.

As an example, the implication that “everyone speaks English” is simply false. According to Babbel Magazine, only 20% of the world actually speaks English. (The vast majority of these people aren’t native speakers.) Thanks to the British, it is the second-most-spoken language worldwide, and the most learned. This is great! You have the ability to speak a language that someone else might be able to speak.

It is often suggested that a foreign language is too hard to learn, or too much work, or simply less important than its STEM counterparts. However, the basis of idea exchanging remains language, be it English, Latin, or Python, and education over linguistics is critical in teaching American students the best communication skills. This, just like math and science based learning, encourages excellence in fields in which other countries often claim superiority.

There’s no secret surrounding the benefits of bilingualism. This skill not only engages parts of the brain shown to ward off disease and age, but also allows you to communicate with more people than you may have thought possible.

Now, how could we go about improving our current system of learning foreign languages? For starters, beginning a language at an early age is crucial to making it a standard part of a child’s curriculum, and this is a major reason why the United States is so far behind in language acquisition.

A lack of options is another reason why many students and schools find themselves struggling to dedicate resources and attention to foreign languages. Many schools in the United States offer only Spanish, or Spanish and French. A greater variety of language not only attracts a greater number of students to the department, but also allows for more major languages such as Chinese and Arabic to be represented.

The required two to three semesters of foreign languages aren’t cutting it, either. Can you imagine if we held English or STEM fields to this standard?

We need better foreign language education, and we need it sooner rather than later if we really want the upper hand over other countries’ students.