The importance of language studies

Opinion

Learning a second language is one the most important skills you can acquire as a student, and I would argue, as a human being.

Second language acquisition has been linked to an increase in vocabulary and understanding grammar of a first language.

But that is not the reason to learn a language.

Second language acquisition has been linked to higher standardized testing scores.
But that is not the reason to learn a language.

Language acquisition has been shown to change the way you think about the world.
This last is the most important and relevant benefit to us as human beings. The heart of language learning is communication.

You learn languages in order to understand an interaction with others, whether that be through reading, speaking, writing, or listening.

However, language learning does not happen in a vacuum.
Language learning requires an understanding of the cultural context of the language.
When I was a student, I loved learning about history and literature, and teaching languages allows me to explore these passions while engaging my students in another cultural context.

Ancient Rome may be gone, but students can communicate with ancient Romans, in their own words, through reading Latin texts.
Most importantly, by learning a language in the context of the speaker’s culture and history, you get a glimpse of their perspective.

Their perspective has similarities and differences to your own, but the process of trying to understand someone, in their own words, helps you to realize that your perspective is not the only one out there.

Through attempting to understand the context clues, language learning creates empathy for other people’s perspectives.

Communication is vital to all humans, and understanding that people have different perspectives and backgrounds is key to trying to understand others.