Why study a Second Language?
- There are great medical, cognitive, psychological and educational values for studying a second language from the earliest age of schooling.
2. In UK, it is mandatory to learn a second language from the earliest stage of schooling.
3. In Europe every child learns 3 languages at the primary school.
4. Try slowly typing into google search "the benefits of learning a second language". The process of the search itself will prove to you the popularity of learning a second language.
5. Carlton Public School, and many other schools in NSW, teach two languages to every child from the earliest age. At the bottom of this page, there is information published which the Carlton Public school gives to parents. It lists out some of the benefits of studying second language and the reasons why Carlton Public School promotes second language.
Here are some more links where you can find more information about benefits of being fluent in more than one Language:
http://expatsincebirth.com/2013/08/19/how-many-languages-can-a-child-learn/ http://www.omniglot.com/language/why.htm http://www.spring.org.uk/2013/09/10-superb-psychological-advantages-of-learning-another-language.php http://annemerritt.com/
6. Board of Studies, NSW, Australian national curriculum advises Primary schools to teach two language. Click on the link below and you will find what they say on this issue.
7. Saturday School of Community languages, Department of Education NSW lists out the following benefits of studying community languages:
> provides an opportunity to develop high levels of skills in a student's background community language
> improves performance across the curriculum through enhanced literacy skills which are transferable to English
> helps maintain rewarding relationships with parents, grandparents, relatives and other community members
> promotes a sense of cultural identity, resulting in heightened self-confidence and self-esteem
> places students in a better position to take advantage of employment opportunities.
If your child already has a second language at home, preserving that language will help the child maintain link with family, grandparents, community and culture. They will love talking to you in that language when you get old.
8. If you can’t help your child preserve community language at primary school, it may be too late. At high school, pressure from other subject and HSC will not leave enough time to focus on the second language.
Below is the information given by Carlton Public School to parents:
Carlton Public School’s Language Program
Five community languages are taught at Carlton Public School: Arabic, Greek (not all year groups), Maori, Macedonian and Mandarin. Only students from these cultural backgrounds are able to learn the language. Students from other backgrounds learn Indonesian as a language other than English.
Benefits of Bilingualism (being fluent reader and writer in more than one language)
Physiological studies have found that speaking two or more languages is a great asset to the cognitive process. The brains of bilingual people operate differently than single language speakers, and these differences offer several mental benefits.
Below are seven cognitive advantages to learning a foreign language. Many of these attributes are only apparent in people who speak multiple languages regularly – if you haven’t spoken a foreign tongue since your A levels, your brain might not be reaping these bilingual benefits. However, people who begin language study in their adult lives can still achieve the same levels of fluency as a young learner, and still reap the same mental benefits, too.
You become smarter
Speaking a foreign language improves the functionality of your brain by challenging it to recognise, negotiate meaning, and communicate in different language systems. This skill boosts your ability to negotiate meaning in other problem-solving tasks as well.
Students who study foreign languages tend to score better on standardised tests than their monolingual peers, particularly in the categories of maths, reading, and vocabulary.
You build multitasking skills
Multilingual people, especially children, are skilled at switching between two systems of speech, writing, and structure. According to a study from the Pennsylvania State University, this “juggling” skill makes them good multitaskers, because they can easily switch between different structures. In one study, participants used a driving simulator while doing separate, distracting tasks at the same time. The research found that people who spoke more than one language made fewer errors in their driving.
You stave off Alzheimer’s and dementia
Several studies have been conducted on this topic, and the results are consistent. For monolingual adults, the mean age for the first signs of dementia is 71.4. For adults who speak two or more languages, the mean age for those first signs is 75.5. Studies considered factors such as education level, income level, gender, and physical health, but the results were consistent.
Your memory improves
Educators often liken the brain to a muscle, because it functions better with exercise. Learning a language involves memorising rules and vocabulary, which helps strengthen that mental “muscle.” This exercise improves overall memory, which means that multiple language speakers are better at remembering lists or sequences. Studies show that bilinguals are better at retaining shopping lists, names, and directions.
You become more perceptive
A study from Spain’s University of Pompeu Fabra revealed that multilingual people are better at observing their surroundings. They are more adept at focusing on relevant information and editing out the irrelevant. They’re also better at spotting misleading information. Is it any surprise that Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot are skilled polyglots?
Your decision-making skills improve
According to a study from the University of Chicago, bilinguals tend to make more rational decisions. Any language contains nuance and subtle implications in its vocabulary, and these biases can subconsciously influence your judgment. Bilinguals are more confident with their choices after thinking it over in the second language and seeing whether their initial conclusions still stand up.
You improve your English
Learning a foreign language draws your focus to the mechanics of language: grammar, conjugations, and sentence structure. This makes you more aware of language, and the ways it can be structured and manipulated. These skills can make you a more effective communicator and a sharper editor and writer. Language speakers also develop a better ear for listening, since they’re skilled at distinguishing meaning from discreet sounds.
Anne Merritt is an EFL lecturer currently based in South Korea. She writes at http://annemerritt.com/
Why should I learn another language?
The above website lists numerous benefits of being multilingual. The list is available at many other sites but this one gives the best quotations:
- The limits of my language are the limits of my universe. (Ludwig Wittgenstein)
- If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. (Nelson Mandela)
- “To have another language is to possess a second soul.” –Charlemagne
- Those who know no foreign language knows nothing of their mother tongue. (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
- “You can never understand one language until you understand at least two.” (Geoffrey Willans)
- Americans who travel abroad for the first time are often shocked to discover that, despite all the progress that has been made in the last 30 years, many foreign people still speak in foreign languages. (Dave Barry)
- The more languages you know, the more you are human. (Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk)
- Language is the archives of history. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
- Most people in the world are multilingual, and everybody could be; no one is rigorously excluded from another's language community except through lack of time and effort. Different languages protect and nourish the growth of different cultures, where different pathways of human knowledge can be discovered. They certainly make life richer for those who know more than one of them. (Nicholas Ostler, Empires of the Word)
- Sometimes learning a foreign language helps you understand your own language and culture better through comparison.
Ten Superb Psychological Advantages of Learning Another Language
o People used to think that learning two languages created confusion in the mind.
o Far better, it was thought, to get one right than bother with two.
o An even more extreme and absurd view was that learning two languages caused a kind of schizophrenia or dual personality.
o Some studies did seem to back up the idea that learning two languages could be problematic; early researchers noted that bilingual people tended to have smaller vocabularies and slower access to words.
But these myths and minor disadvantages have now been overshadowed by a wave of new research showing the incredible psychological benefits of learning another language. And these extend way beyond being able to order a cup of coffee abroad or ask directions to your hotel.
1. Brain growth: Language centres in the brain actually grow as a result of successful language learning. The better you learn, the more those vital areas of the brain grow (Mårtensson et al., 2012).
2. Stave off dementia: Bilingualism delays Alzheimer’s disease in susceptible people by as much as five years (Craik et al., 2010). Seems incredible, but the studies are continuing to support this result. To put this in context: the effect on dementia of learning another language is much greater than anything achievable with the latest drugs.
3. Hear language better: Being bilingual can lead to improved listening skills, since the brain has to work harder to distinguish different types of sounds in two or more languages (Krizman et al., 2012).
4. Become more language sensitive: Infants in bilingual households can distinguish languages they’ve never even heard before (Werker & Sebastian-Galles, 2011). Just being exposed to the different sounds in, for example, Spanish and Catalan, helps them tell the difference between English and French.
5. Boost your memory: Babies brought up in a bilingual environment have stronger working memories than those brought up with only one language (Morales et al., 2013). This means they are better at mental calculation, reading and many other vital skills.
6. Better multi-tasking: Bilingual people can switch from one task to another more quickly. They show more cognitive flexibility and find it easier to adapt to unexpected circumstances (Gold et al., 2013)
7. Increased attention: Bilinguals have stronger control over their attention and are better able to limit distractions (Bialystok & Craik, 2010).
8. Double the activation: Cognitive boosts, like improved attention and better multi-tasking, may come because bilingual people have both languages activated at the same time, and must continually monitor which one is appropriate (Francis, 1999). All that switching back and forth confers the mental benefits.
9. New ways of seeing: Learning a new language can literally change the way you see the world. Learning Japanese, for example, which has basic terms for light and dark blue, may help you perceive the colour in different ways (Athanasopoulos et al., 2010).
10. Improve your first language: Since learning a second language draws your attention to the abstract rules and structure of language, it can make you better at your first language.
Exploring other cultures: These ten are all quite apart from the benefits of immersing yourself in another culture, and of seeing your own culture from the perspective of another.
All told, you may well get something like ‘a second soul’ from learning another language.
[Note: Most of these studies relate specifically to those who have learned two languages from very early on]