Why study languages?
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills lists World Languages as one of the nine core subjects essential for students in the 21st Century.
Here are some of the skills gained by studying languages:
Language education and cultural understanding are at the heart of developing global awareness for students. In order to understand and address global issues, it is important to understand the perspectives on the world that speakers of other languages bring to the table. By learning other languages, students develop respect and openness to those whose culture, religion, and views on the world may be different. Language students are able to interact with students from the target language in order to discuss and reach solutions regarding global issues.
Financial, Economic, Business and Entrepreneurial Literacy
Students in language classes learn about the financial and economic issues from the target language culture and are able to compare and contrast with those of the U.S. According to the Committee for Economic Development (CED), “…cultural competence and foreign language skills can prove invaluable when working on global business teams or negotiating with overseas clients.” Those who are able to communicate with others in their native language will naturally feel more empowered to negotiate with those around the world as they engage in entrepreneurial activities.
Language learners become aware of the judicial, legislative and government functions of the target language country(ies) and are able to compare and contrast those with the civil liberties and responsibilities in the U.S. Because they can communicate in the target language, they are able to engage in discussions with other students to participate in activities in which they discuss civic life in their respective countries.
Language learners are engaged in a value-added activity as they can address global health and environmental issues in the target language and understand materials that were written for native speakers of that language. They have access to information because they can understand the language and can thus engage in global discussions on health, environmental, and public safety issues as they prepare for careers in these fields.