The Benefits of Studying a Second Language

By: Maggie Heller 

Basic knowledge of a second language can reap enormous benefits over time. It allows you to communicate with people who you might not otherwise get the chance to speak to, it broadens your cultural horizons, it can make traveling significantly easier, and it can stand out to employers as you enter the workforce. Additionally, many colleges are looking for 2 to 3 years of World Language in applicants. Luckily, Conard has a fantastic language department that offers classes in a variety of languages, including Spanish, French, Chinese, Latin, and Ancient Greek, as well as American Sign Language.

The West Hartford Public School District highly encourages participation in World Language classes. Students at Aiken, Braeburn, Bugbee, Duffy, Morley, Smith STEM, Webster Hill, Whiting Lane, and Wolcott Elementary Schools begin taking Spanish during third grade, while Norfeldt students start French at that same age. At Charter Oak, education in either Spanish or Chinese begins in prekindergarten. Students are then allowed to choose what language they’d like to study in middle school and high school. This sustained exposure to a foreign language is extremely beneficial to West Hartford students as they progress in their academic journeys and helps open their eyes to cultures beyond what they are already accustomed to.

There are high schoolers who find their World Language classes tedious or uninteresting. Some complain that they would have liked to have taken another science class or unique elective rather than another year of language. But I would argue that those language classes have given students a skill, even if it is incredibly basic, that they will be able to use in the future. If they were in a foreign country, they’d be able to recall enough messy grammar and vocabulary to communicate with someone if necessary.

I’m a huge supporter of taking language classes at Conard. I started taking Spanish in third grade and have never stopped; it’s guided my career goals and college search. The World Language department at Conard is spectacular and I highly recommend it. A friend of mine just started taking American Sign Language this year and she often impresses me with the easiness with which she already uses it. Her experience is a testament to how easy it is to get involved with World Language at Conard.

Finally, companies are looking for employees who can speak more than one language. Between 2010 and 2015, the demand for bilingual employees increased by about 390,000, and it has been on the rise since then. Even with tools like Google Translate, businesses prefer employees who can easily communicate with overseas customers and partners. By learning a second language in high school or college, you could significantly improve your work prospects in the future.

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