The benefits of learning a new language

Students face many challenges during their academic careers. Overcoming those challenges not only sets a strong foundation for success in the classroom, but also outside of the classroom.
Foreign language courses pose a significant challenge to many students. But learning a second language can benefit students in both the short- and long-term.

Early language learning can improve cognitive abilities. The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages notes that various studies dating back several decades have connected language learning with improved cognitive abilities. Such studies have linked early language learning with higher IQs and superior problem-solving skills compared to non-bilingual students.

Bilingualism can improve memory. A 2003 study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology found that bilingualism had positive effects on both episodic memory and semantic memory. Episodic memory is a type of long-term memory that involves conscious recollection of previous experiences together with their context. Semantic memory also is a type of long-term memory that involves the capacity to recall words, concepts or numbers. Strengthening these types of memory can benefit children in the classroom and outside the classroom when they reach adulthood.

Bilingualism can benefit working professionals. The benefits of bilingualism don’t end once students enter the workforce as professionals. In fact, a 2017 study of data from the market analytics firm Burning Glass Technologies found that, between 2010 and 2015, the number of job postings aimed at bilingual workers nearly tripled, rising from 240,000 in 2010 to 630,000 by 2015.

Developing fluency in another language is no small task, but it’s one that’s well worth the effort.

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