7 Reasons to Learn Another Language

Kathleen Stein-Smith

Half of the world population is bilingual, but only 25% of Americans can hold a conversation in another language.

Changing that is one of the goals of language advocacy efforts, such as the Lead with Languages campaign. As the author of a book on what I refer to as America’s language deficit, here are what I see as seven of the best reasons for America’s young to speak a language besides English.

1. Makes you smarter

Research has shown that knowledge of more than one language is associated with better reasoning, problem-solving skills and creativity. It also helps people deal with unknown and unfamiliar situations. Use of another language tends to delay the onset of dementia

2. Boosts academic achievement

Language learning supports academic achievement. This is true for English-speaking students studying a foreign language, as well as English language learners in bilingual and immersion programs. It also boosts academic outcomes at the college level.

Being bilingual has also been shown to especially benefit low-income children in terms of “their ability to direct and focus their attention when distractions were present.” Another study found that kids whose families spoke a second language at home scored better on cognitive tests than those whose family only spoke one language.

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