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Should Students Be Required to Learn a Foreign Language to Graduate?

by Marie Anderson, studioD

Many states require high school students to earn credits in a foreign language in order to graduate and many colleges also include foreign languages in their degree plans. Some students may wonder why they have to take a foreign language to fulfill high school or college graduation requirements, so it is important to understand the many benefits of learning another language.

Academic Importance

Learning another language assists in the development of critical thinking, creativity, problem-solving and memory, per the Connecticut State Department of Education. A 2007 publication cited several studies showing that students who study a foreign language have higher scores on standardized tests in math, reading and social studies, as well as college entrance exams like the ACT and SAT. English-speakers who learn a second language typically also have better listening skills and a greater understanding of their native language.

Understanding Diversity

Studying a second language also affords the opportunity to be immersed in another culture, learning not only the language, but its heritage, history and traditions as well. The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages claims that learning another language increases a student's understanding of diversity and leads to more positive attitudes and a greater sense of respect for people of other cultures. It also opens up the way for new experiences like being able to watch and understand foreign films or travel to new nations and converse in the native language.

Job Opportunities

As our world becomes more globalized and diverse, being able to speak more than one language becomes an invaluable skill and opens up more career choices and advancement opportunities. Being able to list that you are bilingual on a resume will set you apart from the competition and give you an advantage in the job market. According to Career Builder, many employers in the business, education, health care, government, hospitality, law enforcement or marketing fields look for applicants who can speak other languages.

Choosing a Language to Study

Language experts Martha Abbott and Ken Stewart offer some tips on language study in an article published by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. They claim that while it is never too late to start learning another language, starting earlier is better. Students do not have to stop at just two languages, as many languages offer a transition to learning others. Abbott and Stewart suggest choosing a language based on interests, such as family history or what peers are learning and both cited consistency as an important factor, that students should see it through and become lifelong learners.

About the Author

Houston area native Marie Anderson began writing education articles in 2013. She holds a Bachelor of Science in exercise and sports science and a Master of Science in education administration. She has seven years of teaching and coaching experience within the Texas public school system.

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