The Debate on Learning a Foreign Language


Many schools teach a foreign language but the question in concern nowadays is whether or not learning a second language is truly beneficial.In the article “Foreign Language Study Should Be Mandatory!” by Liz Reisberg , she states how learning a language isn’t just about learning how to speak it , but understanding the culture and the many different values of that country.In “Benefits of Foreign Language Education” by Grace Chen , she talks about the multiple gains from learning a foreign language and how these benefits can help students grow in many different aspects of life.Lastly , in the article “Can Learning a Foreign Language Foster Analytic Thinking?—Evidence from Chinese EFL Learners' Writings” by Jingyang Jiang , she uses studies to help persuade her audience as to why she believes learning a second language not only trains the mind , but also the soul and results in outstanding critical thinking skills.Using these articles I will be able to give specific details and research in order to back up my argument on how students should be required to learn a foreign language in school.Learning a secondary language in school should be necessary in order to broaden students way of thinking , their cultural appreciation , and the eliminating of boundaries between them and others.

Learning a foreign language can help students to think outside the box and improve their overall thinking capabilities.”Besides the positive influences on executive function, there is abundant evidence of other cognitive benefits of bilingualism, such as in creativity (expressed in divergent thinking or flexibility of thought) and working memory performance”(Jiang 13-18).A study done on bilingual people proved how there are many cognitive benefits to speaking multiple languages.Those who learn a foreign language are able to look into things through a different standpoint and are able to change their behavior due to the way they have processed new perspectives and cultures.Learning a second language allows people to become smarter not only academically but also socially.They are able to understand the language in deeper context and use it for the better.”Language is not only the representation of thinking, but also shapes thinking “ and this is so important because these are two major parts of our everyday lives(Jiang 1).

On top of increasing your thinking capabilities it also allows students to understand new cultures and be able to interact with them.Learning a new language allows you to deepen your connection with the culture and “cultural values, hierarchies, and traditions often play out in language”(Reisberg 4).Words don’t mean the same thing to all people and learning how to break down these cultural barriers through language can help those to communicate more effectively.”Studying another language increases the effectiveness of cross-cultural communication, not only in knowing words, but in developing a deeper understanding of language generally and its relationship to culture”(Reisberg 3).It is very important for people to understand others and to know how to communicate efficiently for the overall benefits of everyone.

Understanding and learning a new language can also allow people to break down cultural barriers and provides one with more opportunities.”As high school students begin to look towards college and future employment opportunities, the study of a language on a student’s transcript or resume provides insight of intellectual abilities and social awareness”(Chen 8).Knowing a secondary language allows one to gain more job opportunities,communicate with a wide variety of people, and increases their knowledge of the cultures around them.”Over the past five years, demand for bilingual workers in the United States more than doubled”, which goes to show the need for people with the knowledge of speaking more than one language(Reisberg 8).In addition, not only does it help break cultural barriers , but ”studying another language, any other language, will help you understand the issues faced by Americans who speak languages other than English, will help you understand the immigrant experience, may help you understand your neighbor, your family, or yourself”(Chen 9).With the knowledge of knowing another language , it's almost as making oneself vulnerable to the culture and one is able to understand not only the positives of the culture but also the negatives.

Learning a foreign language should be required in all schools because it not only benefits the person learning it , but it benefits everyone around them and makes for a more diverse society.Many people can use counter arguments like the programs cost too much money or not all jobs require you to interact with others of different cultures , but at the end of the day you interact with people every single day even outside of your job.People should want their kids to grow up with the experiences of other cultures in order to better them for their future.It is also better to be safe than sorry and learning these new languages allow one to reach past their comfort zone or what they know as normal.

All in all, these articles helped to prove my argument , make sense of an upcoming issue , and push my opinion just that much further.The details and studies presented show the benefits of learning a foreign language and shine light on a very controversial topic that has been brought up today. America is faced with many challenges and by enforcing people to think about other cultures than just their own , we are pushing towards unity and the acceptance of things that may be considered different.The U.S is so diverse and if we persuade our generation and the generations to come to learn and understand each other's cultures in a deeper context , we are providing a gateway into a world of acceptance and knowledge.Learning a second language can drastically improve the minds of students and allow them to have a sense of responsibility and culture appreciation for everything they are faced with in our world.

 

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