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Why Should We Learn Languages?

Guest post by Northampton High School

Learning a language will enhance your life! It’s a bold statement, but one which should be made to all children. It’s a well-accepted fact that learning a new language has huge benefits – even at just two or three years old. Indeed, language lessons are now appearing as part of normal provision in nurseries and Early Years settings. But why should we learn languages? 

BETTER FUTURE PROSPECTS

In many countries it is quite normal for most citizens to use two or three languages. In fact, 52.7% of Europeans are fluent in at least two languages. These multi lingual residents are well placed to move between countries, taking full advantage of a greater amount of job and living opportunities. Knowing additional languages will open up employment opportunities for our children in the future; 94% of employers think that foreign language skills are important in today’s world. If your son or daughter wishes to be an entrepreneur and business owner, as a linguist they would already be in a perfect position to drive their ideas forward to a larger client base. Learning a new language in little steps early on could lead to big financial advances years later.

CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING

Socially, learning other languages is a wonderful way for your child to encounter people from other cultures and understand different customs and lifestyles. There are a huge number of experiences waiting for children to explore as they grow and learn in a new language. As a family you can stray from the typical tourist path on holiday and meet local people to enjoy seeing and doing things others cannot, developing your language at the same time.

BETTER OVERALL EDUCATION

Learning a language can positively impact your child’s education as a whole. Research has shown that language learners achieve significantly higher maths and verbal SAT scores - their grammar skills improve, as well as their analytic and interpretive capabilities. As the famous writer Goethe once penned, “Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own”. The impact on overall learning will continue to be seen in a child’s problem-solving skills, memory, self discipline and self-esteem. Because progress in languages can clearly be observed, children can quickly take pride in their new abilities. Universities also value the learning of languages; many fields such as science, law and journalism expect a reading knowledge of foreign languages in order for scholars to conduct research.

Above all else, studying a new language, reading other people’s stories and connecting with people in their own language can be a source of great pleasure and surprise. Learning languages will help children to expand their personal horizons. Federico Fellini, one of the most influential filmmakers of all time, summarised this perfectly when he said “A different language is a different vision of life”.

At Northampton High School pupils start their foreign language learning with French in the Nursery. Mandarin and Spanish clubs are also provided in Junior School. In Year 7 the language provision expands to include German, Spanish and Latin. Senior school experiences include a pupil exchange to Amberg, Germany, practising Italian phrases in Rome and being a school ambassador in Budapest, to name a few.