Learning a new language enriches one’s life in a variety of ways

The door to opportunity opens to people who become fluent in another language

A+French+3+student%27s+textbook+and+globe+are+pictured+in+the+above+photo.

Isabel Rivera

A French 3 student’s textbook and globe are pictured in the above photo.

By Isabel Rivera, Stroudsburg High School

Communication is key, right? But how are all the people in the world supposed to communicate if they do not speak the same language? In a world so diverse it is practically inevitable to meet people who speak a different language.

Knowing more than one language is a desirable trait. When taking a job with an international company, traveling, and studying abroad, people may be required to know multiple languages.

Learning a world language may not heed immediate results, but it can better the learner’s relationship with their first language.

“An English speaker learning a world language will expand their native vocabulary as well as their understanding of syntax and proper grammar,” said French teacher Ms. Maureen Verwey. “On an educational level, studying world language has been shown to enhance memory and results in higher standardized testing grades.”

An English speaker learning a world language will expand their native vocabulary as well as their understanding of syntax and proper grammar”

— Ms. Verwey

Everyone has a different reason for deciding to take world language, but what they might not realize are the doors it opens either while taking it in school, as well as later in life.  Some travel companies offer trips to foreign countries to teenagers and knowing the country’s native language can greatly improve the quality of the trip. Many schools also offer class trips to foreign countries to immerse students in the culture of the language they are taking.

“I decided to take a foreign language because it was required for graduation,” said junior Molly Christy. “But I do enjoy it! I’ve stuck with it because it is fun to learn, and the class environment is very welcoming.”

Many companies are international or deal with some kind of foreign element. Especially in a country as diverse as the United States, knowing more than one language is a sought after skill in the job market.

Later in life, knowing more than one language can prove beneficial in securing career opportunities”

— Ms. Verwey

“Later in life, knowing more than one language can prove beneficial in securing career opportunities,” said Verwey. “Additionally, through world language, a person can become a better world traveler. Learning another language allows a person to participate respectfully in a multicultural world.”

Learning a second language becomes harder the older a person gets. This is because as a person gets older their neuroplasticity begins to decrease meaning that the brain has a lesser ability to change and adapt to new experiences. Despite this, it does not mean that someone who started a second language later in life can not become fluent.

“I definitely think that anybody can develop skills to achieve some basic function in a foreign language” Spanish teacher Ms. Amanda Nicholson. “Just like any subject, it certainly comes more naturally to some people than others.  It is no different than any other aptitude.  Learning a second language is also easier when tackled at a younger age.  It is a shame that we do not start world languages more universally in our elementary in the US.”

If more people were fluent in two languages as opposed to just one it could potentially increase productivity simply because multicultural communication would be more fluent.

“I think it would be very beneficial for everyone to learn or be fluent in at least two languages because it would open doors for more opportunities and a strong mind,” said Christy. “I think society would be more productive because people would develop critical thinking skills from learning another language. It would allow more open communication with all sorts of people.”

For more information about the benefits of learning a foreign language:

Why learn languages

Foreign language an essential core experience 

Top 10 benefits of learning a foreign language

This story was originally published on Mountaineer on January 12, 2021.