Foreign Language – A Valuable Skill Americans Must Work On

The United States Of America and the Europe will always be connected because of cultural, historical, and economic ties. There are goals and roots we share with Europe that will always be relevant on some scale. However, there will also always be major differences between the life and people of Europe and their counterparts here in the USA.

That is not a problem, of course, because the differences to be found among varying cultures the world over are an undeniably important part of the human experience. However, our close connection with European people naturally gives rise to a certain level of competitiveness, which can be quite helpful and beneficial to all of those involved. For example, a desire to do better in education and on standardized testing can teach us all to value the learning process and education in general.

One area where the Europeans have the Americans beat is in the foreign language department Language of desire. Americans could definitely stand to spend a little more time and energy learning the other languages of the world besides English. Of course, learning foreign languages, and learning them well, is more common and, to be fair, much easier in Europe because no matter where you are in Europe, there is another country that speak another language not too far away.

Whereas many Americans can spend their entire lives never visiting another country that speaks a different language, Europeans are normally exposed to, even surrounded by people who speak other languages early and often. This environment affords people who live in Europe more opportunities both to learn and to practice another tongue besides the one they grew up with.

Perhaps because of this difference, we face a big problem in America with students and teachers who often see learning a foreign language as a token gesture. Because there is not such a pressing need to learn and use another language, we often spend a few years in middle school and/or high school learning basic verb conjugations, basic vocabulary, and a few catchy songs or games related to the language we studied. It may be fine for passing a couple of simple tests in school, but it gives you the language skills of a small child, if even that. We need to take learning another language seriously, for a number of reasons.

Many people will say that learning to speak a foreign language well is not worth the effort it takes for most people. They argue that ordinarily people do not need to be bilingual to go about their everyday lives. This may be true, but it is also true that if you never learn another language in the first place, you are much less likely to take steps in your life that require that language, whether for business or pleasure. In other words, when you decide not learn another language you are cutting yourself off from a whole set of options that might have been very rewarding if you had the skills needed to pursue them.

Also, learning a foreign language can be a great help on standardized tests like the SAT and the ISEE. If you come across an English word you don’t know, you can often use your knowledge of another language to help figure out what might be that word’s meaning.

Beyond that, learning a foreign language is a skill that builds your intelligence in general. Learning to think critically about another language forces you to learn things about your own, which allows you to become much more effective when communicating with other people. That is a skill that will help you for you entire life, and that alone justifies the desire to pursue another language sincerely and effectively.

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