Why Study a Foreign Language? - Benifits of Second Language Learning

  • From: Regarding World Language Education

                    NEA Research, December 2007


    Second language study benefits academic progress in other subjects


    • Applying current standard practices of foreign language instruction ("Five Cs of Communication, Culture, Connections with other disciplines, Comparisons with students' native languages and cultures, and use of the foreign language in Communities outside the classroom") reinforces English language course content of other coursework. (Curtain & Dahlberg 2004)

    • Learning another language can enhance knowledge of English structure and vocabulary (Curtain & Dahlberg, 2004).

    • A study of 13,200 third and fifth graders in Louisiana public schools revealed that, regardless of race, gender, or academic level, children taking foreign language classes did better on the English section of the Louisiana Basic Skills Test than those who did not. (Dumas 1999)

    • Strong evidence shows that time spent on foreign language study strongly reinforces the core subject areas of reading, English language literacy, social studies and math. Foreign language learners consistently outperform control groups in core subject areas on standardized tests, often significantly. (Armstrong & Rogers 1997; Saunders 1998; Masciantonio 1977; Rafferty 1986; Andrade 1989; Kretschmer & Kretschmer 1989) • One study found students scored significantly higher in math and language arts after one semester of foreign language study 90 minutes per week. (Armstrong 1997)

    • Foreign language learners consistently outperform control groups in core subject areas on standardized tests often significantly. (Armstrong & Rogers 1997, Saunders 1998, Masciantonio 1977, Rafferty 1986, Andrade, Kretschmer & Kretschmer 1989)

    • Students who started kindergarten in the first Kansas City foreign language magnet schools in 1988 had surpassed national averages in all subjects by the time they reached fifth grade.These foreign language students performed especially well in mathematics. (Eaton 1994)

    • Foreign language students within an urban magnet program scored well above anticipated national norms in both reading and mathematics and higher than the average of all magnet school participants, despite the fact that they represent a broad cross-section of the local community. (Andrade 1989)

    • Mastering the vocabulary of a second language enhances student comprehension and abilities in reading, writing, mathematics and other subjects. (Saville-Troike 1984)

    • Bilingualism fosters the development of verbal and spatial abilities. (Diaz 1983)

    • Students learning a second language in elementary school surpassed those who were not in English reading and language arts tests. (Mavrogenes 1979).

    • Early second language study promotes achievement in English vocabulary and reading skills. (Masciantonio 1977)

    • Foreign language learners consistently score higher than their non-language-learning peers in measures of English vocabulary, particularly when the language studied has Latin roots. (Masciantonio 1977)