More than half the world’s population is bilingual. At a time when the world is becoming increasingly interconnected, learning another language is a step towards joining a global community. Second language study benefits everyone in our society. The study of another language leads to greater cognitive development in the areas of mental flexibility, creativity, divergent thinking, higher-order thinking skills, a better understanding of one’s own language and culture, and enhances career opportunities.
Bilingual children are more willing and able to learn a third language, and show an increased analytical orientation to languages. Mississauga Children who study a foreign language also score higher on verbal standardized tests conducted in English, for example, the verbal section of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), a test required for admittance to many American Universities. Learning a foreign language helps children build self-esteem, creativity, problem-solving skills, and numerical ability. One study shows that by the fifth year of an immersion program, students outperform all comparison groups and remain high academic achievers throughout schooling. In addition to developing a lifelong ability to communicate with more people, children may derive other benefits from language instruction, including improved overall school performance. Experimental studies have shown that there is no long-term delay in native English language development when children participate in second language immersion classes compared with those schooled exclusively in English. Bilingual children maintain a strong sense of their own identity while developing sensitivity towards other people and cultures. Learning a foreign language opens the door to other cultures and helps a child understand and appreciate people from other countries.
The benefits to society are many. Language is the primary communication tool, and thus, the more languages one masters, the stronger edge they have among the leaders of the world. People fluent in several languages enhance our economic competitiveness abroad, improve global communication, and maintain our political interests. Knowing a second language ultimately provides a competitive advantage in the work force by opening up additional job opportunities. Professionals who know several languages are often called on to travel and exchange information with people in other countries throughout their careers. The UN report on language policies in the 21st century emphatically states that “ you buy in any language but you sell in the language of the client”. Knowing more than one language enhances opportunities in government, business, health care, law enforcement, teaching, technology, the military, communications, social services, and marketing, amongst other industries.
The Converse Centre offers language instruction for Children and Adults in Mississauga.