Learning a foreign language should be mandatory in the school system. As an American during a European trip from Los Angeles to Paris and Frankfurt back to Los Angeles, it was amazing to see everyone from the flight attendants on Air France, the cashiers at Burger King, the sales clerks at the flea market, the street cleaners and even the Chinese in Chinatown-Paris speak in at least two, if not three languages.
Many may argue that for Europeans, the necessity of learning a foreign language is that there are several countries that each has their own language within the Union and commerce typically transcends borders. As such, it is beneficial for Europeans to know in the least the languages of the countries in which commerce is transacted (much unlike the United States where commerce is transacted primarily in English) or communication is only possible within the parameters of one’s own country, a relatively small geographic area. Americans in comparison have not had the necessity of learning a foreign language unless international travel or an extended visit to a foreign country is planned, until recent times.
Here in the United States, English is the language in which our laws are written and business is conducted primarily and used as the medium language for all people to converse. In major metropolitan areas throughout the country, however, practically every modern language is spoken. “English is the de facto national language. Although there is no official language at the federal level, some laws—such as U.S. naturalization requirements—standardize English” (United States).
Due in large part to globalization, learning a foreign language for all citizens of the world is now today a necessity. Also, many college preparatory benefits of learning a foreign language are admission into a university, and thereafter, increased marketability, job opportunities, intellectual growth and flexibility. With many business transactions occurring on the international playing field where corporate offices span the globe, being fluent in another language is advantageous to any employee of any company worldwide.
Another one of the benefits of learning a foreign language is that of education and empowering the mind. Upon learning a foreign language fluently, as our thoughts are language based and so is that of critical thinking, such knowledge truly helps to analyze things from a different perspective as one begins to think in that language. Additionally, learning a foreign language helps one understand his/her own language and provides them with better listening capabilities.
Finally, the socio-cultural benefits of learning a foreign language derives from the widening number of people one can speak with and relate to. As the nuances are developed for the foreign language and its use, a deep cultural understanding is developed of its native speakers. It also has a positive impact on one’s own intellectual growth.
United States. (n.d.). Retrieved January 6, 2010, from Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U .S.
What The Research Shows. (n.d.). Retrieved January 6, 2010, from American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages: http://www.actfl.org/i4a/pages /index.cfm?pageid=3653
[Article first printed at Helium.com: Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language]