Compelling Reasons for the Importance of Foreign Language Study
Exposure to diverse languages and cultures is a critical component of a quality education, and the benefits of language study are well documented in many essential areas:
- The study of language brings students into contact with people and cultures that are very different from their own, and in a way that encourages respect for diversity. This exposure lowers the barriers that are often at the root of fear and distrust of others. Thus, the knowledge gained from language study contributes to empathy and tolerance towards diverse peoples and reduces prejudice both at home and abroad.
- The study of foreign languages not only broadens students’ perspectives of the world, but also imparts a more profound understanding of their own cultures. Exposure to cultures with long histories builds a greater sense of the past within one’s own culture as well.
- Foreign language study increases students’ skills in the use of English. Often it is in the foreign language classroom that students gain the greatest understanding of grammar and expand on their vocabulary. Learning the linguistic roots of language further deepens these abilities.
- The study of foreign languages enhances listening skills and memory, increases analytical abilities, and builds aptitude in problem solving and working with abstract concepts. It has been shown to enhance the study of other subjects. Abilities in math and English increase, and creativity grows.
- The study of foreign language is a distinct advantage in the professional world. Job candidates who are proficient in more than one language are extremely valuable and have a competitive edge in the U.S. economy, where a large proportion of jobs involve work with immigrants and/or are the result of trade with foreign countries. Students who have studied foreign language have more job opportunities available to them both at home and abroad, in an increasingly global society.
- Graduates often cite language courses as among the most valuable in helping them to increase their communication skills overall in college, allowing them to obtain desirable employment in a wide range of areas. Language study opens doors in countless fields, including business, marketing, government, medicine, technology, law, and the military.
- The study of foreign languages and cultures leads students to become more responsible and committed global citizens. It reduces the barriers to travel and, therefore, encourages continued exposure to other cultures and allows individuals to interact more fully with others.
- The study of diverse languages and cultures is a gateway to greater understanding and appreciation for a wide range of other subjects, including art, music, cuisine, film, science, and philosophy. It educates and broadens the mind in limitless ways and is the true core of a liberal education.