“Die Grenzen meiner Sprache bedeuten die Grenzen meiner Welt.”
The limits of my language are the limits of my universe. Ludwig Wittgenstein
Why? We believe every child deserves to succeed at learning a foreign language in order to expand their skill, their marketability and their universe.
How? We engage students through a personalized blended learning method which teaches self-awareness, self-assessment and self-advocacy grounded in the growth mindset.
What? We create language learners who leave school with nothing less than an Intermediate to Advanced level proficiency, setting them on the road to becoming bilingual.
“It isn’t that people don’t think language education important.
It’s that they don’t think it’s possible.”
-Richard Brecht (Friedman)
Why is it so important to learn a foreign language?
Language learning supports academic achievement. Studies have shown that students that advance in foreign languages also do better on standardized tests. There is enormous pressure on schools to perform on standardized tests at this time.
Learning a foreign language also provides cognitive benefits to students: the cognitive skills which they are developing to master this new language transfer to other disciplines and end up building a stronger student able to make connections within various areas of studies.
It also affects attitudes and beliefs about language learning and different cultures, promoting a greater respect and understanding of foreign cultures, history and people. This leads to an increase in global competency, which is badly needed in the United States today.
In the increasing global market and the growing ease with which we do business internationally now, it is imperative that we promote a knowledge of other cultures, their customs, their beliefs, and that which demonstrates the most respect: their language.
“The components of what we call “global competence” range from deep expertise in the languages and cultures of other nations and regions, to basic understanding of the rest of the world and the U.S.’s role in it. Global competencies involve, among other things, having cross-cultural skills, foreign language proficiency and the ability to function effectively in other legal, political, economic, social and cultural environments and value systems.” (JNCL)
Being bilingual has been shown to have many benefits, such as being able to connect with a whole host of people previously out of range, being able to confidently travel and assimilate to a non-native culture, being eligible for international jobs which require language skills, having greater compassion and flexibility, and even physical benefits like a faster recovery from strokes and a later onset of dementia.
The benefits are countless. The bottom line is that multilingual citizens have a deeper, greater ability to see the world and a more enriching way to connect to it. As a country we need to begin producing citizens who can speak more than simply English. As language teachers we need to do it in such a way that it stays with them and produces a lifelong skill. By giving them ownership over their learning we are setting them on the road to success and empowerment, and by giving them the tools to master another language we are expanding their minds and their worlds.
When less than 1 percent of American adults are proficient in a foreign language they studied in school we clearly need to do something differently. 93 percent of our schools offer a foreign language. Yet are we teaching them in a successful manner? Not according to the data.
Technology today has provided tools like we have never had access to before, thus creating the perfect setting for reaching all students and helping to cultivate in them the ability to learn a new language successfully.
“Americans who travel abroad for the first time are often shocked to discover that,
despite all the progress that has been made in the last 30 years,
many foreign people still speak in foreign languages.”
– Dave Barry
ACTFL PROFICIENCY GUIDELINES 2012. (2012). Retrieved April 15, 2017, from https://www.actfl.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/public/ACTFLProficiencyGuidelines2012_FINAL.pdf
ACTFL. (n.d.). What the research shows. Retrieved April 15, 2017, from https://www.actfl.org/
Friedman, A. (2015, May 10). America’s Lacking Language Skills. Retrieved April 15, 2017, from https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/05/filling-americas-language-education-potholes/392876/
Joint National Committee for Languages and the National Council for Languages and International Studies. “JNCL-NCLIS Response to US Department of Education International Strategy 2012-2016.” February 4, 2013.
Vince, G. (2016, August 12). BBC – Future – The amazing benefits of being bilingual. Retrieved April 15, 2017, from http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160811-the-amazing-benefits-of-being-bilingual
Why should I learn a language? (n.d.). Retrieved April 15, 2017, from http://www.omniglot.com/language/why.htm