Below are 10 reasons why the teaching of foreign languages is so important and should be prioritised in education.
1. Improves Overall Educational Performance
Pupils who learn a foreign language outscore their non-foreign language learning peers in verbal and maths standardised tests, indicating that learning additional language is a cognitive activity not just a linguistic one. The brain, like any muscle, functions better with exercise. Learning a language involves memorising rules and vocabulary, which helps strengthen that mental muscle.
2. Improves Understanding of English
Studying a foreign language, helps make grammatical concepts and rules in English become clearer. Children use what they learn in one language to reinforce what they've learned in another.
3. Encourages Positive Attitudes Towards Foreign Languages
If pupils are brought through primary school with a positive attitude to foreign languages, they are more likely to choose and do well at languages in secondary school and beyond.
4. Build Multitasking Skills
Multilingual people, especially children, are skilled at switching between two systems of speech, writing, and structure. According to a study from the Pennsylvania State University, this “juggling” skill makes them good at multi-tasking. In one study, participants used a driving simulator while doing separate, distracting tasks at the same time. The research found that people who spoke more than one language made fewer errors in their driving.
5. Improves Memory
Educators often liken the brain to a muscle, because it functions better with exercise. Learning a language involves memorising rules and vocabulary, which helps strengthen that mental “muscle.” This exercise improves overall memory, which means that multiple language speakers are better at remembering lists or sequences. Studies show that bilinguals are better at retaining shopping lists, names, and directions.
6. Introduces new Cultures and Broadens Pupils' Horizons
Learning a new language opens doors to new cultures, traditions and festivals, and will help pupils appreciate other cultures and understand our global society.
7. Opens up Great Career Opportunities
Although career opportunities may be off the radar for most primary school aged pupils, being bi-lingual provides huge opportunities later in life. As the world becomes more global, businesses will be looking for employees who can communicate in multiple languages.
8. Improves Decision Making Skills
According to a study from the University of Chicago, bilinguals tend to make more rational decisions. Any language contains nuance and subtle implications in its vocabulary, and these biases can subconsciously influence your judgment. Bilinguals are more confident with their choices after thinking it over in the second language and seeing whether their initial conclusions still stand up.
9. Easy to Incorporate into Lessons!
Foreign language learning can be easily incorporated into other lessons and vice versa. For example, using foreign language commands in PE, or learning more about the country geographically or culturally.
10. It's Fun!
Learning new languages is best performed through games and activities that are fun for pupils. Repetition and practice are essential in language learning, so games such as bingo, Simon says and Chinese whispers are great ways of making learning fun.
To support your Foreign Languages teaching, we offering a 15% discount on all of our languages posters throughout June. Simply enter the code JUNE15 at checkout. Our colourful and engaging posters provide the building blocks for deeper learning and are a great way of supporting your foreign language teaching and activities.
For more information on our full range of French, Spanish and German posters click here.