The Importance of Foreign Language

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Throughout American history, western ways have always led to prosperity and constant influence of leadership to the global world. It is not surprising that English is the universal language according to popular belief, and often times non native english speakers are therefore seen as ‘disadvantaged’ especially in the US. Fundamental truth states that cultures define themselves through languages and gives one the ability to communicate and exchange views. If so, do native speakers close themselves off against foreign languages and only communicate with native english speakers? And viewing from a non-native english speaker’s perspective, how will they immerse themselves while living in the “melting pot”? Contrary to popular belief, English is not the lingua franca, hence, learning a foreign language should be more of an urgent concern for monolingual native speakers specifically in the reputable “melting pot”. By learning a foreign language not only do we then know another language but more importantly we are also able to expand our ability to communicate as well as opening doors to the valuable cognitive, social, and global benefits of learning a language other than our native tounge.

Trying to learn a foreign language has always been thought of as a challenge for anyone. Most of the time, we first begin our attempt driven by a superficial motivation and an incentive other than just to know another language than English. Rarely does one wake up one day and challenge themselves into learning a foreign language, usually it seems that in our generation, we nonetheless make the attempt because we are forced to fill an educational requirement. Sure, perhaps this force may drive us, but what happens if were not forced? Unfortunately this is a concerning situation that many educational institutions in America face, further accepting the false idea that English is the universal language of humanity, and blunting the necessity for Americans to learn another language. Moreover, this is the main reason behind the fact that US lags behind other nations in language proficiency and are depriving Americans of opportunities that over 4/5th of the world embrace. In year 2000, the US National Board of Education (ACTFL) made language proficiency as a nationwide goal. But statistics show that between 2002 and 2006, there was only a 13% increase of language learning in the educational system. This is due to the lack of budgeting. According to ACTFL, “usually when the National Board of Education runs low on funding, many schools are then forced to reallocate their resources towards academic subjects that are necessary for the students’ academic success such as math, science, and english”. Though unfortunate, the limited accessibility to the benefits of being monolingual would not be as limited for any human being if they were self-motivated to do so, which is only possible if more people became aware of the benefits of being multi-linguistic.

Learning a foreign language offers advantages that are not restricted to linguistic knowledge only, but also extends the area of language. According to The Society for Neuroscience, learning a language is more of a cognitive than linguistic activity. A study by a professor at York University revealed that adults who were bilingual since childhood were more capable compared to monolinguals at concentrating in face of a distraction since it was discovered that the cognitive controls processes that is also used when negotiating between two languages. Acquiring a second language enhances an individuals’ mental ability to concentrate since the brain exercises the same brain activity non- stop on a daily basis leading to strengthening ability to deliberately ignore distraction. In relation to academic success according to Therese Caccavale, president of NNELL (National Network for Early Language Learning) claims; “Studies have shown repeatedly that foreign language learning increases critical...
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