Teach a second language to students from an early age | Local voices
My favorite shirt was made in Honduras. My favorite song was written and recorded in Japan, but I can listen to the same notes over and over from the comfort of my own bed. I can text my cousins in England using a smartphone made in China.
However, in the age of globalization, I am fluent in only one language: English.
I’m in my third year of Spanish, but I don’t speak enough to help a new student find her locker or help a customer order lunch.
Elementary schools should be required to teach a foreign language. Starting the learning process earlier than high school makes sense because young children pick up grammar and vocabulary faster than adults.
Knowing more than one language gives you a competitive edge in any career you choose. So, teaching elementary school students a second (or third) language will prepare them for success in this interconnected world.
As well as having the obvious advantage of knowing two languages - being able to communicate with a wider range of people – bilingual children can enjoy other benefits as well.
Learning about other cultures can trigger lessons in empathy and acceptance, which leads to more aware individuals and less conflict.
Additionally, research by Andrea Mechelli, Professor of Early Mental Health Intervention at King’s College London, found that learning a second language increases the density of gray matter in the brain.
Gray matter is the outer layer of the brain and is used to process information from the sensory organs.
Gray matter plays an essential role in the central nervous system, as well as in the control of movement, memory and emotions. So it makes sense that teaching a second language to children prepares them for a better life in many ways.
Devon Culberson is in 11th grade at Solanco High School.