Begin Young! Beginning foreign language instruction at a young age, such as in kindergarten, has many cognitive benefits for when children grow up and work with people of different cultures. A second language should be taught starting as young as possible because the younger a child is, the more they can absorb in their brains and pick up on natural language speaking abilities. Anybody can learn a language if they are motivated to do so and if they actually dedicate time to listening, writing, and speaking. With the young and spongy brains that children have, teachers should most definitely begin teaching a foreign language starting as early as kindergarten. Additionally, adolescents have a different mindset than kindergarteners.
It is easier to learn a language starting in kindergarten than in middle school or high school. By that point, kids are older and unfortunately less of them care about learning it. Spanish is one of the most common foreign languages taught in schools, and when students are in middle school or high school, it is harder to grasp the topics and the grammar points, because everyone has grown up speaking only one language. “Studies have shown repeatedly that foreign language learning increases critical thinking skills, creativity, and flexibility of mind in young children” (ACTFL). Spanish especially, is such a useful language because more and more people are speaking it in the United States.
Therefore, starting to learn it when you are younger is the best way to learn. It makes life easier when kids are growing up and studying hard in school. Obviously, the level of difficulty will increase over the years of the language being taught, but in kindergarten, teachers need to keep it quite simple to keep the kids motivated. Often, little kids become frustrated when they do not understand new topics. It is important to keep learning the new language once it is started. For example, if Spanish is taught beginning in kindergarten, it should be continued throughout all of elementary school so that the students do not forget anything.
If Spanish was taught in K-12, their communication with other people would be greater, allowing them to involve themselves in new opportunities. With this being said, beginning early is a great advantage for careers. “The work force has an increased demand for people who can speak foreign languages at a sophisticated level” (Wake Forest University). Redmond says, “For the elementary grades, using games, stuffed animals, puppets, giant storybooks and other visual, hands-on approaches work well in teaching languages” (Wake Forest University). This is important to mention because little kids cannot be taught sitting down in their seats while staring at the board as their teachers write words down. Instead, they need fun activities to do to enforce the learning.
This will only enhance their writing, listening, and speaking skills as they get older. Spanish is one of the most common foreign languages spoken in the United States other than English, and the more that people learn how to speak it, the better their communication skills will be for job opportunities. From experience in school, many students in high school do not enjoy Spanish class because they think it is just a waste of time and that they don’t need to know any of it. Due to this, a lot of students don’t take it seriously in class. Behavior habits would be different if foreign language instruction began in kindergarten. This is because they would grow up having the class and learning along the way that it is actually extremely useful to know a second language.
In general, foreign languages are crucial to learn because the United States can no longer afford to speak only one language. People of many different countries are coming to the United States and most if not all, bring their languages with them. Also, many countries are better than the United States at teaching a second language. For example, many international students begin learning English at a young age and a great amount of them are working a lot harder than this country to enforce it. If they try so hard to learn English, why shouldn’t everyone here spend the time to learn theirs? Kindergarten language instruction does exist and some schools are teaching languages in elementary school, but only around twenty five percent, which is not nearly enough (Global Post). Every elementary school should have foreign language instruction for their students to carry with throughout high school.
It will only make the United States a better place to be in and communication will only increase. It opens one’s mind to the world and different cultures other than just their own. “The social services deal with so many diverse groups that not knowing foreign languages can and in many cases does hamper their ability to serve the public adequately” (St. Johns). If everyone would just take the time to try learning a new language, there would be so many more opportunities for careers and volunteering.
In addition, foreign languages are important to know for health care. “The ability to communicate with non-English speaking Americans can often make a difference between life and death” (St. Johns). Therefore, due to many high school students not caring so much about their language classes, this is another reason why teaching should begin in kindergarten. A great job to take is to be a medical interpreter to help people that don’t know English.
This can be really beneficial for the person’s medical care while they are at the doctor’s office or the hospital. If more people knew one language other than their own, communication as a whole would be greatly increased in this country. A great advantage for starting a foreign language in kindergarten is that it will be easier for the children to develop a “native-tongue” speaking ability. Younger children still have underdeveloped vocabulary and with that being said, it is much easier for them to learn new words in a different language rather than older students who have only spoken one language since they were born. In addition, “…young learners have a natural curiosity about learning which is evident when they engage in learning a new language. They also are open and accepting of people who speak other languages and come from other cultures” (ACTFL).
Therefore, starting to teach a language in kindergarten is so beneficial for the young children who will grow up with a better understanding of other cultures that are exposed around them. This is so important for this country, because it is rapidly expanding with all sorts of different people. The more that people can interact and communicate with each other, the better this nation will be. Young students often possess a more positive learning attitude than the typical teenager in high school does. “Research from the lab shows that exposure to a second language at a young age plays a key role in cognitive development” (Global Post).
It is crucial for the mind of a young child to be involved with another language other than their native language. This goes for kids outside of the United States, too. It is just as important for someone in another country to learn new languages as well. With this being said, the world would be more interconnected which would only increase social skills with one another. Because of this, the younger the children are the better for starting language instruction.
Foreign languages are important for people to learn in this world. As years go on, people are becoming more and more unconnected with each other due to a language barrier. This needs to be improved so that everyone can communicate with no difficulties. As America’s students grow older, less of them are putting effort into their language classes because many of them refer to it as a class that they just want to “get done with”. If classroom instruction was started in kindergarten, this would change and the world would be a better place for job opportunities and communication.