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Should High Schools Teach a Foreign Language?

Taking a foreign language for high school students is an ongoing debate in the US education department. Some institutions have made foreign languages optional, but others have ensured they remain mandatory. The United States is becoming more diverse with a population of different languages and cultures. There is a need to teach high school students foreign languages. According to census data from 2018, more than a quarter of American households speak a language other than English (de Brey et al.) English is the most dominant language in the United States, followed by Hispanic. On the other hand, other foreign languages, such as French, Russian, and Chinese, are taught at both public and private schools. According to a survey conducted by the Center for Applied Linguistics, most high schools provide a foreign language curriculum (Carreira & Kagan, p157). The research demonstrates that learning a foreign language at a younger age is beneficial because it helps students improve their communication skills and cognitive abilities and helps in employment opportunities.

By learning more than one language, a student becomes inevitably good at communication skills. When students learn grammar, syntax, and conjugation in a foreign, they become more conversant in their first language, which enables them to communicate efficiently and clearly. Every good leader needs to be an efficient speaker, and you can not understand your language unless you have learned a foreign language. When an individual learns a foreign language, they gain an advantage to view their first language from different angles. This helps the students in the future and even in present team works mainly when members of a group are bilingual the communication of the leader makes the members feel involved. Learning a foreign language makes a student understand the relationship between a language and communication, which is essential in gaining the empathy and perspective necessary for good communication.

When students are multilingual, they can easily communicate with other native people, thus creating a stronger connection with the natives who can not speak English. Good communication skills help the students to communicate without an interpreter. As a result, they can gather important information. When students speak a foreign language with other natives, their communication skills help them develop confidence and open an opportunity to trust their communication abilities. Foreign language makes students pay attention to their surround-dying and anything they utter due to good communication skills.

Cognitive abilities among bilinguals are undeniable. Skills like intelligence and multitasking can be improved by learning the language. Learning a new language opens up the mind to learn different hidden meanings and understand new words making one’s cognitive abilities better. According to a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, learning a foreign language enables students to train their minds to be flexible, connect faster, and control their emotions and muscles (Jin & Dewaele, p154). Learning a new language involves a variety of learning practices. Students who take foreign languages are good problem solvers because they have mental flexibility and improved concentration. Students tend to be more creative as they learn new abilities and languages. They can compartmentalize their brain. As a result, they learn to balance events in life and reduce stress and anxiety. New languages open a way for a new perspective. Learning a foreign language trains students to separate their emotions and analytical processes. This enables the students to remember better by analyzing situations from an objective point of view and making better decisions. Separating what is relevant from the junk information allows the students to perform better in their academics and daily lives.

When the brain is flexible, students can switch tasks more quickly than when they are rigid. Foreign language students have been proved to have a higher chance of beating functions without having to put effort. Foreign languages help the student’s working memory. This allows them to prioritize, organize and pay attention. As a result, adapting faster to changes will enable them to meet their targets in time. Learning a new language allows the brain to build habits that lead the cognitive ability to improve. When learning a new language, students are compelled to be alert and pay attention; this, in turn, makes the students develop a more excellent attitude towards the other language. Future businesses require people who are quick problem solvers, and the earlier students learn the need of being mentally flexible, the better because globalization is happening and new cultures and languages are emerging.

Lastly, foreign languages help students have a good chance in the job market. The ability to speak and negotiate in a foreign language improves the chances of employment. Foreign language proficiency teaches the student to appreciate different cultures and soft skills like people and management that most employees look for in many people. With globalization, most corporations are looking for bilingual or multilingual. The US department of labor projects that the demand for interpreters and translators will rise to over 40 percent in the next decade. When competing in job seeking, monolinguals are likely to be left because they don’t have a vast communication ability (Vieira, p12). Companies have recently decided to increase employees’ salaries who speak a foreign language. For instance, the United States military foreign-language speakers receive 1000 dollars higher wage.

When one can speak a specific language, they can decide to go abroad and look for better opportunities. Most companies take multilingual because they can help them venture abroad. Being able to communicate with different cultural groups and strike business deals breaks the barriers for a business to operate in a particular region. Knowing a client’s native language boosts their trust and confidence in its products and services. Becoming a global employee means you can blend seamlessly into various cultures.

In conclusion, foreign languages should be taught to high school students because the benefits exceed language acquisition and retention. Foreign language classes should follow trends in the education system and global trends. With the nation becoming diverse by the day and the globe becoming a village in terms of technology and employment, there is a need to embrace foreign languages. Foreign language students outperform monolingual students because they have a better perspective of communication skills, attention that improves their cognitive abilities, and a better chance of getting employed in multinational organizations. The United States is a country that embraces diversity among its citizens and ally countries; the civil act of 1964 urges every American to embrace every individual of color, race, or religion. This should be extended more tio their foreign languages. Better exposure to foreign languages creates proficiency and exposure to different cultures. As a result, they are increasing the amount of input.

Works Cited

Carreira, Maria, and Olga Kagan. “Heritage language education: A proposal for the next 50 years.” Foreign Language Annals 51.1 (2018): 152-168.

de Brey, Cristobal, et al. “Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Groups 2018. NCES 2019-038.” National Center for Education Statistics (2019).

Jin, Yin Xing, and Jean-Marc Dewaele. “The effect of positive orientation and perceived social support on foreign language classroom anxiety.” System 74 (2018): 149-157.

Vieira, Lucas Nunes. “Automation anxiety and translators. Translation Studies, 13 (1).” (2020): 1-21.


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