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3 Benefits of Learning a World Language in High School

By Simone Aguilera

According to the Pew Research Center, only one in five K-12 students in the United States now learns a second language. Compared to Europe, where 92 percent of students learn a world language, millions of U.S. students are missing out on the benefits that come with learning a second language. This lack of language learning in U.S. schools could have significant effects on students’ understanding of and empathy for communities around the world, as well as their future college and career prospects. That’s why it’s so important for schools to offer opportunities for students to learn a world language.

Here are three benefits of learning a world language in high school:

  1. Cultural Understanding and Empathy
    When students study a world language, they’re not only learning how to speak and write; they’re also exploring the many facets of a different culture. As students learn more about global communities, they recognize not only what makes different cultures special, but also the experiences they share with people around the world. This perspective leads them to develop empathy and a healthy sense of their country’s position in the global community.
  2. Global Competitiveness
    A growing number of U.S. companies are doing business internationally, and a majority of U.S. companies expect an increase in global expansion within the next year. With this global business growth in mind, learning a world language is a valuable job market skill. Companies need employees who can improve their global presence or better serve non-English-speakers, so learning a second language makes students more employable in an increasingly competitive job market.
  3. Higher Confidence and Increased College Opportunities
    Many students lack confidence about their ability to learn a different language, which has led to a misconception that some students just aren’t prone to learning a new language. Access to world language courses in high school provides students with an environment where they can explore a second language and build their confidence to pursue higher-level learning opportunities. Whether students work their way up to Advanced Placement® world language courses during high school or decide to pursue language learning in college, access to high school language courses open doors to these opportunities.

For students to access the benefits of learning a second language in high school, they must first have the opportunity to take a world language course. This can be a challenge for students attending small or rural schools where resources are not available.

Whether schools are experiencing a shortage in qualified language teachers or just can’t justify or afford hiring a teacher to teach languages such as Portuguese or Chinese, a quality online learning partner can provide a solution. VHS Learning enables schools to offer high-quality online courses taught by certified instructors, greatly expanding the world language options available to students.


To learn more about creating access to world language courses in high school, read How to find language learning opportunities for students on eSchool News.