Learning a second language has many benefits


Maria Cuevas

Mr. Van Scoyoc works with his French II class.

Hope Shook, Staff Writer

One of the first people think of when it comes to a second language is that you have to learn one for school because it will help you later in life for jobs or college acceptance. Those are all great reasons for learning a second language, but little do people know that there are other benefits, as well.

Learning a second language can help you with your mental well-being. No matter your age, studies have shown that just studying and learning a second language can improve your memory, attention span, and it can help reduce risk of cognitive decline. Many people have said that after you learn the first language any other after  becomes easier to learn, because each time you figure out how to acquirelanguage more efficiently.

Bellwood-Antis foreign language teachers agree. B-A offers both Spanish and French.

“Although modern technology can make translation much easier than it once was, there is nothing that can take the place of being able to communicate directly person-to-person,” said French teacher, Mr. Timothy Van Scoyoc. “Studies have shown that learning a second language improves brain function and problem solving-skills.”

Although modern technology can make translation much easier than it once was, there is nothing that can take the place of being able to communicate directly person-to-person.”

— Mr. Van Scoyoc

Another reason many people learn a second language is that it can give you a deeper understanding and connection with people of another culture. This also opens doors for you to travel and see the world with open eyes, and gives you a way to interact and communicate with people  of another culture instead of being just another tourist.  

“They learn to be more tolerable of other cultures, and it makes a person re-examine their own language,” said B-A Spanish teacher Señora Erin Smith

Learning a second language can even help you with your first language. Studies have shown that while learning a second language it broadens your vocabulary of your first language. It can also help you with your communication skills and how you interact with people in your everyday life.

“It gives you a different perspective to view your own language and culture,” Mr. Van Scoyoc said.

Students at B-A begin language study with a twice-a-week exploratory class in eighth grade. It helps begin the process, though studies have shown it would help to begin much earlier.

“Most studies suggest we should start language instruction earlier. After about age 12 the muscles of the mouth tend to set and it is very hard to overcome an accent,” Mr. Van Scoyoc said.  “It would be nice to have more opportunities to use the language in real life situations. In the U.S., we also probably don’t focus on teaching the languages that are important for our economy and security, like Chinese and Arabic.”