There are a number of studies that prove the benefits of learning a foreign language. Some of these include health benefits such as an expanding comprehension of the brain, becoming more creative, gaining better problem solving skills, and helping to avoid age-related mental decline. Other benefits are more global and societal such as creating better job opportunities or building a stronger nation which gains a better understanding and acceptance of other cultures which, in turn, strengthens the government's security interests. It's not hard to imagine why learning a foreign language would have its benefits. It is hard, however, to imagine why learning foreign languages is often put on the back burner of school curriculums in the US.
According to an article from Forbes.com, only 18% of Americans report speaking a language other than English, while 53% of Europeans (and increasing numbers in other parts of the world) can converse in a second language. This is important because, in our rapidly growing global economy, the US is falling short in building international relations by not knowing how to speak more than their native tongue, English. It's not just about knowing vocabulary and how sentences are structured in a foreign language, but also knowing about foreign cultures and how other nations think. Without these elements, the US continues to fall short of their competitors abroad.
So what can we do about this problem? First, we can build more awareness and focus on the importance of learning foreign languages now. We can stress the importance for school districts, governmental agencies, small business, corporations, and our neighbors to learn a foreign language by requesting the implementation of language programs. Second we can enroll in language classes, start reading more about other cultures, and start expanding our knowledge base of overseas nations. There are a ton of online resources available and our very own JP Linguistics has a plethora of services and knowledgable staff who are natives from France, Italy, & Spain who can help. It's a matter of getting started now and preparing ourselves for a bright future.
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