Why Your Teen Should Study a Foreign Language

Article excerpt

Byline: Rose Rennekamp

Not long ago, a friend's son was trying to explain why he didn't want to take a foreign language in high school.

He just didn't see the point. He wanted to be a structural engineer when he graduated from college and couldn't see the benefit of studying something that he was sure he wasn't going to use. What he didn't understand was that the study of foreign languages is beneficial to all students, no matter what they are planning to do in the future. They can learn a number of skills that can benefit them both inside and outside of the classroom.

More and more, learning other languages is not only smart, it's essential. ACT suggests high school students complete two years in the same foreign language; for example, Spanish I and Spanish II.

Many colleges include foreign language credits as part of their admission requirements. Contrary to some students' beliefs, studying a foreign language isn't just another hoop they have to jump through to get into college. It shows the college that they have skills necessary for academic success.

Foreign language study has been shown to increase students' academic skills in other areas. For example, by learning the grammatical rules of another language, students often learn more about the structure of their own languages. Studying other languages also enhances students' skills in problem solving, oral communication and cross-cultural understanding. In fact, a recent study found that students who had completed a foreign language course in high school, no matter what their ability levels in that language, had higher scores on the ACT assessments in English and mathematics.

Students can learn several important cultural skills by studying other languages.

In a nation that is becoming more and more ethnically diverse, understanding other cultures is very important. …