Benefits of Foreign Languages

A recent article in the Washington Post (“Why we need foreign-language classes in public schools”, December 1, 2009), written by a research associate for the Center for Applied Linguistic, mentioned that only fifteen percent of U.S. public elementary schools are teaching foreign languages but that other nations (including English-speaking ones) have made learning foreign languages a priority for their students starting at an early age.  The benefits in this kind of program, the author argued, are enormous.  For example, students who study foreign languages “outperform their monolingual peers on a wide range of academic achievement tests and experience cognitive benefits, such as increased problem-solving, creative, verbal and spatial abilities.”  Given that students in the U.S. are forced into taking standardized tests like the SAT and ACT for college entry, shouldn’t our school systems advocate for early foreign language training? Just a thought.   What do you think?

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