Many studies of test results – both state testing as well as the ACT and SAT – have shown that students who study a foreign language perform better on standardized tests than their monolingual peers. Study of another language reinforces and improves a student’s understanding of English vocabulary and usage.
Career opportunities are also enhanced with the study of foreign language. Today we live in a more globally connected society and economy where knowledge of other languages is increasingly necessary. To remain competitive, many businesses prefer to hire employees who are bilingual or who at least understand other languages and cultures.
A recent article in Education Week cited reports from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and American Councils for International Education indicating that only one out of every five students in grades kindergarten through 12 are studying a world language or American sign language.
According to Mary Abbott, executive director of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, “We’re such a long way in this country from having it be normal to grow up learning other languages. Our future depends on our ability to engage with the rest of the world, and right now Americans have a very tough time doing that.”
The article also suggested that when students learn another language, they are being given a window to cross-cultural understanding. Furthermore, multinational corporations and industries are finding it increasingly useful and necessary to make business inroads into foreign countries (and especially the Arab world today). Abbott said, “As a country, we’ve moved toward learning languages where we see an economic competitiveness.”
At City Academy in Salt Lake City, 100 percent of students study a second language. This is part of the charter school’s graduation requirement because they focus on ensuring that students are ready to engage the world after high school. This requirement is one of the many features that distinguishes City Academy from most other public schools in and around Salt Lake City.