By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, Curriki
European Day of Languages is this month, a timely reminder of the immeasurable value of foreign language study in education and in life.
The first day – or rather, year – celebrating language diversity was European Year of Languages 2001. Organized by the Council of Europe and the European Union, it involved millions of people across 45 countries in activities that celebrated linguistic diversity in Europe and promoted language learning.
After that inaugural celebration, the Council of Europe declared a European Day of Languages to be celebrated each Sept. 26. The EDL website has a host of fun activities, quizzes, trivia and more to celebrate foreign language study.
In the United States, language learning is less of a priority. Less than 10 percent of Americans are bilingual, while well over half of Europeans speak two languages fluently, according to the California State University, Fullerton.
Benefits of Learning Languages
Speaking a foreign language has countless benefits for personal development. Here are just a few:
- It increases understanding of other cultures.
- It encourages lifelong learning.
- It improves employment potential, since many businesses are marketing their products and services in other countries. A second language is now becoming a crucial element for an increasing spectrum of careers.
- It helps businesses compete in a global economy, by giving them a better understanding of the cultures with which they are dealing.
- It improves chances of entry into college or graduate school, as most colleges and universities require a minimum of two years of high school foreign language instruction for admission.
- It helps you better appreciate international literature, music, art and film.
- It makes travel easier and more enjoyable.
- For college students, it expands study abroad options.
- It increases your potential pool of friends.
The list goes on and on. The College Board has even found that students who have taken 4-5 years of a foreign language have higher verbal scores on the SAT.
Children who excel at a foreign language at a young age usually have better musical skills, according to a study conducted by professors at the University of Turku, Finland.
Teaching young children how to speak a second language is good for their minds, report two Cornell linguistic researchers. They say learning a second language does not cause language confusion, language delay or cognitive deficit, as feared, but rather makes it easier for them to maintain attention and be ready for school.
Visit the European Day of Languages website. Take the languages quiz, learn some trivia, try some activities and find out why languages are important.
Curriki Language Resources
- Free Resources for Teaching Spanish
- Where the Wild Things Are (in Spanish)
- Wyoming 6th Grade Spanish Curriculum
- Body Parts (Elementary French)
- Colors Unit (Spanish)
- High School French (4H and AP)
Au revoir. Adios. Auf Wiedersehen. Arrivederci. Good bye!
Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, leads and manages all of Curriki’s content development, user experience and academic direction. Learn more at Curriki.org.