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The Power of One Single Subject....
Monica Lynn, 2/7/2011

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: One of my very favorite homeschool evaluation families in Western PA had an especially strong Spanish program. Their secret? Meeting weekly with a Spanish tutor, who had deveoped an especially rich language-learning approach. These girls were singing in Spanish, writing essays and little books in Spanish, reading folks tales and poems and real literature, and developing real conversational ability, along with developing firm grammatical understanding. Their tutor really encouraged meaningful daily practice and work at home, ensuring they would make progress. I'm so pleased that this family's tutor, Monica Lynn, is now sharing here with all of us about the value of foreign language learning. Monica is a Spanish native from Barcelona, Spain, who has lived in Spain (17 years), France (7 years) and the USA (19 years). She is fluent in Spanish, French, English and Catalan, (her “four native tongues”), and also understands some German and Italian. Monica has spent several decades teaching languages to students of all ages and proficiency levels. She currently teaches out of her home in the Cranberry Township/Wexford Area north of Pittsburgh, and is available to teach additional private and group classes. She can be reached by phone (724.612.1999) and by email (tedmonicalynn@gmail.com). I hope to hear some responses back on ways that your homeschooling family has benefited from learning another language-- even if you are just in the beginning stages of this process! And I hope that Monica will be sharing further with us on how she organizes and structures her language classes, helping families see ways to incorporate all aspects of language in their learning.

Question: What single academic subject could help you in at least eight life altering ways such as...
... growing intellectually; helping your SAT’s scores; better understanding your own language, your own culture and even yourself; increasing your chances of being accepted to your first choice college and of being offered certain jobs or promotions; expanding your study abroad options; increasing your global understanding of international events, as well as culture including movies, music and literature; communicating with people from other countries; enhancing your international travel quality?

Answer: A Foreign Language, indeed.
Here is how learning a foreign language can enrich your life in all those ways:

  1. Intellect and Life Skills: learning a foreign language enhances the student’s flexibility in thinking, sensitivity to language, and listening skills. Research shows that people who have studied foreign languages show greater cognitive development in areas such as creativity and higher order thinking skills, such as problem-solving, conceptualizing, and reasoning.
  2. Test scores: it is proven that students’ scores on college and graduate school entrance exams such as the SATs, ACTs, GREs, MCATs, and LSATs improve incrementally with each additional year of foreign language instruction taken.
  3. Increased mastery of one’s native language, and understanding of one’s own culture and one’s self: Knowing another language can strengthen your vocabulary skills and overall linguistic abilities in your native tongue; and studying another culture offers you the unique opportunity of seeing your own and yourself from an outside perspective, which inevitably leads you to ask certain questions you may have never thought about previously... leading to new answers and new understanding.
  4. College & Jobs: Knowing a foreign language increases your chances of being accepted to college and graduate school, and also gives a student a head start in language requirements for college. It also increases job opportunities and promotions in many careers where knowing another language is a real asset.
  5. Expands your study abroad options: while many study abroad options include English speaking countries, by learning a foreign language your options now expand to the countries where the language you are learning is spoken.  In some cases, you might expand your options to 20 additional countries, as is the case of Spanish.
  6. Increased global understanding: learning a foreign language opens the door to other cultures by helping the student understand and appreciate people from other countries. As said by Federico Fellini, Italian film director: “A different language is a different vision of life."  It also helps you appreciate international literature, music, and film: most of the world's literary and artistic works have been written in languages other than English. The translation often loses the original intent, beauty, style, and uniqueness. To be able to fully appreciate literature, theater, music, and film in other languages, one must be able to hear them or read them in their original form and language.
  7. Speaking with non-English speakers: while millions of non-English natives do learn and master the English language, many interesting stories and wisdom are left un-exchanged due to language barriers. You could bridge that gap by learning a foreign language and communicate with people you would otherwise not have the chance to know.
  8. Enhanced international travel quality and enjoyment: speaking and/or understanding a foreign language helps you see and do things where that language is spoken that many visitors cannot, by allowing you to avoid the well-beaten touristy paths and to explore the real country, and really get to know it.

If you already are fluent in several languages,why not add another to your repertoire?


Sources and additional information:

http://www.buzzle.com/articles/the-importance-and-advantages-of-learning-a-second-language.html
http://www.actfl.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3651
http://www.vistawide.com/languages/why_languages.htm
http://www.actfl.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=4724


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