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Simidele Davis
College Writing II 1202, Section 03
Professor Nicolai
May 8, 2013
Learn another Language Early
Spanish, German, French, and Chinese are some of the language courses that can be
taken through the school system. Learning these languages give people the opportunity to
communicate with not only people in their own culture, but also different cultures. But these
courses are often introduced late in the development of a child, around the middle and high
school years. Introducing foreign languages to children early allows them to reap from the many
benefits such as enhanced cognitive development, all-around academic achievement, and
increased career opportunities.
Learning another language early can attribute to many cognitive boosts. According to
Kenjii Hakuta, Professor of Education at Stanford University, people that speak more than one
language show greater cognitive flexibility, better problem solving and exhibit high order
thinking skills (Hakuta). If children have the opportunity to increase their cognitive ability from
the early stages of life, they will also have the opportunity to reach higher cognitive levels in
their futures. Early language learning also can increase childrens ability to understand how they
identify the objects around them through the use of imagery because they can label those objects
with words from more than one language. According to Richard Landry, learning languages
early in life leads to greater skills in figural creativity (Landry). The memorization and
pronunciation that are required in learning a language also benefit the cognitive development of
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children by increasing listening skill and sharpening memory. These increased listening skills
and sharpening memory can also contribute to academic ability in classrooms.
The incorporation of second language study can benefit the progress in other school
subjects. According to Helena Curtain and Carol Ann Dahlberg, there are five components of
foreign language instruction called the Five Cs, and those five are communication, culture,
connections with other disciplines, comparisons with students native languages and cultures,
and use of foreign language in communities outside the class room. They also claim that these
Five Cs reinforce the English course content of other coursework (Curtain & Dahlberg).
Knowing how to communicate and understanding different kinds of communication can be very
beneficial in coming to understand the various kinds of course work that students are presented
with. Being able to make connections with other disciplines is a form of elaborate rehearsal,
which is a method of learning presented in psychology. Elaborate rehearsal entails taking
information and relating it to some other information to make it more relevant, so the
information is learned on a more permanent basis. These increased academic abilities can help
students do better in school, which can lead to better college opportunities that can help them
with future careers.
Learning a second language early increases future career prospects for students. The
communication and problem solving skills that students get from learning a second language can
attribute to situation in future work places. Being able to speak more than one language makes
students looking for jobs more desirable because they can interact with international clients.
Knowing more than one language is also advantageous because the employees will be able to
travel for their companies without incurring the expenses that come with hiring a translator.
According to the National Research Council, not only do foreign languages help students better
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understand English grammar and improves communication and problem-solving skills, but they
also make it possible for foreign language students that become employees to travel and learn
more about different people and cultures (National Research Council). Learning a second
language makes people more appealing to companies and agencies that need employees that are
fluent in foreign languages. The National Research Council provides evidence showing that the
U.S. government has shown a desire for fluent speakers of other languages besides English,
especially in languages that are not commonly taught such as Arabic and Chinese (National
Research Council).
One of the problems with foreign language study in the U.S. is that people feel as though
it is a waste of time. People may feel this way because of the lack of results that are seen, but it is
not the foreign languages that are the problem. The problem is that foreign language study
instruction is not being conducted in a way to effectively gain results. According to the
Committee for Economic Development, Experience has shown that 300 hours of instruction
spread over two years is woefully inadequate for high-school students to develop any usable
level of proficiency. Elementary-school students, who receive only 30-60 minutes of instruction
per week, are even more disadvantaged (Committee for Economic Development). With the
limited amount of instruction time, students cannot be expected to actually reach a useful level of
In the end, introducing children to other languages besides their native language early in
their lives can be very beneficial. Many aspects of a young childs life can be changed through
learning a second language such as cognitive development, academic success, and career
opportunities. More action has to be taken in order to make it possible for many children to take
advantage of the numerous benefits that are brought about by foreign language instruction. These
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actions can include investing more in effective programs and instructors, while also increasing
the amount of instruction time that children receive.

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Works Cited
Curtain, Helena Anderson., and Carol Ann. Dahlberg. Languages and Children: Making the
Match : New Languages for Young Learners, Grades K-8. 3rd ed. Boston: Pearson, 2010.
Hakuta, Kenjii. "Cognitive Development of Bilingual Children." ERIC Digest (1986): n. pag.
"Home | Committee for Economic Development." Home | Committee for Economic Development.
Committee for Economic Development, 2006. Web. 09 May 2013.
Landry, Richard G. "The Enhancement of Figural Creativity through Second Language Learning
at the Elementary School Level." Foreign Language Annals. 1st ed. Vol. 7. N.p.: n.p.,
1973. 111-15. Print.
O'Connell, Mary E., and Janet L. Norwood, eds. "International Education and Foreign
Languages: Keys to Securing America's Future." Editorial. National Research
Council 2007: n. pag. National Research Council. Web. 9 May 2013.