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    Educating the Global Citizen
World Languages Resources for K-12 Teachers and Parents

Why learn a second language?

Girl in red

Our world is shrinking. Each day, new developments in technology and modern systems of transportation bring the nations of the world closer and closer together.

At the same time, our country continues to welcome people from many different nations - taking pride in being a land of many cultures. More than 160 languages are spoken in New Jersey alone, where our diverse population grows at a rate far surpassing many other states.

As the world grows smaller, our society and economy also grow more complex. Every day, people of various cultures and languages interact through life's daily routines: conducting business, shopping - even going to school.

Recognizing the need for a "world-class education" in our rapidly changing global society and economy, the state of New Jersey requires the study of a second language for all students in kindergarten through grade 12.

The study of a second language enhances our children's opportunities for future success in both their professional and personal lives. It prepares them for a society and workplace that require a better understanding of other people and cultures. It also gives them the ability to communicate through many languages within our state, within our country and beyond its borders.

Why teach a second language at the elementary level?

Studies show the sooner a child begins to learn a second language, the better. Youngsters who have uninterrupted language study beginning at an early age usually:

  • Achieve a high degree of proficiency in a second language;
  • Speak with near native-like fluency;
  • Eagerly communicate and are willing to take risks and make mistakes as part of the language learning process; and
  • Approach second language learning as an engaging and fun activity.

What are the advantages of learning a second language?

According to educators, students who are familiar with two or more languages tend to:

  • Gain a better understanding of the English language;
  • Improve their overall learning as they make "connections" across other subjects;
  • Improve their overall performance;
  • Have higher standardized test scores;
  • Be more flexible in their thinking;
  • Use critical thinking skills effectively;
  • Learn other languages more easily; and
  • Have a better understanding and appreciation of cultural differences and social interactions.

What career opportunities are there for speakers of world languages?

New Jersey's multilingual, multicultural community and its growing international economy demand frequent interaction with members of different cultures within our state and around the world to conduct day-to-day business. New Jersey has the eighth largest economy in the United States. Its location and unparalleled transportation systems provide companies with unlimited access to global markets. New Jersey is home to 1,200 multinational firms, is fifth in the nation in attracting foreign investments, and sends its products to more than 200 destinations worldwide.

Learning a second language will give New Jersey's graduates the competitive edge in career choices. Some careers and professions where a second language would be beneficial include:

  • Health Professions
  • Public Service
  • Legal Professions
  • Education
  • Travel and Tourism
  • Business and Industry
  • Armed Forces
  • International Relations

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globalteachinglearning.com   Updated: Fri Nov 23 2007