|A Pace Odyssey||
Learning a second language can be beneficial in so many ways. It expands one’s job opportunities, makes communicating with more people easier, it has nothing but positive effects on the mind, and research has even gone far enough to conclude that it prevents age-related cognitive decline. Brain scans have proven that bilingual people have more gray matter in brain areas involving executive brain function which means that bilingual people are not only more efficient in language processing but they are also more efficient at basic tasks. Studies of thousands of high schoolers have shown that students that knew a foreign language, on average, performed better on the ACT than monolingual students. Some have suspected that learning a foreign language at a young age might confuse a child but in reality, the research points to the opposite. Bilingual children perform better in their first language than monolingual children.
Of course, it is not easy to acquire knowledge of a foreign language. Especially after the communication part of the brain is almost completely developed. The easiest and most effective way to learn a foreign language is to be exposed to it as young as possible. Babies are said to be the “sponges” for learning language and children ages 7 to 8 also have a much greater ability to learn and retain a language. The ability to become fluent in a foreign language declines over time, especially after puberty.
With that and all of the benefits in mind, should children be required to take a foreign language early on in school? Some would argue that they should get to choose but if they get to choose that, why do they not have a say in other classes like math or PE? Personally, I think that I would have benefited from learning a foreign language even though younger me most definitely would not have wanted to. I did not want to learn math or English either but it sure helped to have that information later in my life.