5 Reasons to Learn a World Language in High School
By: Simone Aguilera
The United States has no official language. However, if you live in a predominantly English-speaking area, you may not see the importance of learning a second language. You may attend a college that is taught in English and—if you travel outside the United States—encounter many people who can still communicate with you.
You will find, however, that most high schools have a language requirement to graduate, and many colleges require world language credits to apply. This is because there are so many benefits to learning a second language in high school. As you decide which electives you will take in the upcoming school year, it might be worthwhile to consider taking a world language course to broaden your knowledge of the world and prepare for college and future careers.
Here are five reasons to learn a world language in high school:
- Prepare For College and Earn College Credit
The most obvious reason is that many colleges and universities have a minimum world language requirement to graduate, no matter what your major is. By taking language courses in high school, you can build foundational skills that will prepare you for college-level courses. If you reach a certain level in your language proficiency, you can even take Advanced Placement (AP)® courses to receive college credit while you’re still in high school. VHS Learning offers AP® Latin, AP® French Language and Culture, AP® Spanish Language and Culture, and AP® Chinese Language and Culture online, if they are not available at your local school.
- Learn About Other Cultures
World language courses are not only about learning to speak and write, but also about the culture and history of regions that most commonly speak the language. By learning about lifestyles, customs, socioeconomic and cultural complexities, learners recognize not only how we are different around the world, but more importantly how we are similar. Students develop empathy, more positive attitudes, and less prejudice toward people of different cultures, which fosters a growth mindset.
- Connect With More People Worldwide
Learning to speak another language makes it possible to communicate with millions of people who you wouldn’t have been able to otherwise––there are an estimated 1.31 billion Chinese speakers in the world, significantly surpassing other top-spoken languages in the world like Spanish (460 million) and English (379 million). Additionally, learning a language like American Sign Language (ASL) can enable you to communicate effectively and interact with cultural understanding of the Deaf community. This promotes inclusivity and can provide you with the skills to help other hearing individuals discover ASL and support the Deaf community.
- Develop Marketable Skills For a Global Economy
Learning and maintaining a second language is an extremely valuable skill beyond college. By becoming fluent in another language, you can interact with many more customers and colleagues across the United States and around the world. Having this marketable skill makes you highly desirable to employers who engage in business across the global economy.
- It’s Good For Your Brain!
Learning a language results in many cognitive benefits for the learner, including improved verbal and spatial abilities, enhanced problem-solving skills, improved memory function, and more. Due to these cognitive benefits, language learning has been shown to enhance student performance across other curriculum, leading to higher standardized test scores, higher reading achievement, expanded vocabulary and proficiency of English, and higher college-level academic performance.
Studying a world language in high school helps students not only speak and write that language, but immerse themselves in a different culture, develop empathy for others, and gain marketable skills for today’s competitive job market. At VHS Learning, our licensed educators are highly qualified to teach a variety of languages and can expand the number of options available to students without sacrificing the quality of learning. To learn more about the world language courses offered by VHS Learning and sign up for Fall 2022 courses, visit the VHS Learning course catalog.
Simone Aguilera is the coordinator for world languages curriculum at VHS Learning.