For today’s students, mastering a world language is more than just a college admissions requirement—it can be a competitive advantage when searching for a job. As international trade and research has expanded, so has the demand for multilingual employees who can communicate with people worldwide. And with more language options and enhanced methods for practicing and gaining fluency in a second language, virtual schools are helping students prepare for success in the global economy.
Why Learning a Foreign Language Is Important
While job hunting may be years in the future for your child, research proves that learning other languages benefits students in a variety of surprising ways. The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages reports that early language learning improves children’s cognitive abilities in many areas, including memory, intelligence, and problem-solving.
Learning another language can also boost your student’s academic performance in school. In study after study, language students have shown better reading skills in English than their peers who don’t study a second language.
Regardless of the second language they’re studying, students improve their word-study skills and make gains in their verbal expressions of math and science. Additionally, world language students of all ages perform better on standardized tests, including the SAT and ACT, which are used for college admissions.
Online School Has Expanded World Language Course Offerings
While many school districts are scaling back on the number of courses they offer, a high-quality online school may provide a wide range of foreign language options. For example, in addition to the typical French and Spanish language courses, Connections Academy’s curriculum also offers other online world language courses, like Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, German, and Latin. Students can even begin taking language course electives as early as elementary school.
New Ways to Learn Languages Online
Virtual school students gain new methods of developing their language skills by using technology. They attend class in online classrooms, where they can hear their teacher speak and where they see presentations on the whiteboard. Students ask and answer questions using chat interfaces, or teachers can invite them to use the microphone. Students can also work with other students in small groups. Because these live classroom sessions are usually recorded, students can watch lessons again to help them master pronunciation or a more challenging concept.
To improve fluency in a second language, Connections Academy® courses in Spanish and Chinese also offer students Time to Talk, a new program that enables them to talk with a tutor who is a native speaker of their chosen language. Throughout the course, the student meets with the tutor in the virtual classroom, either one-on-one or as part of a small group. This gives them the opportunity to practice reading, speaking, and listening skills in their chosen world language.
Working with the tutor, students will also review specific lessons, show their understanding of course concepts and vocabulary, and practice communication skills. Parents and students have had an overwhelmingly positive response to the program, saying that the practice gained during Time to Talk makes a huge difference.
The Importance of Learning Foreign Languages in Today’s World
The foreign language curriculum also helps students gain insight into the cultures and traditions of the people who speak their chosen language. Teachers may integrate geography, history, diet, beliefs, cooking, and other practices into lessons. This window into another culture enables language learners to see the world from a different perspective and to understand the language in the correct context.
Having an appreciation for the culture of people who speak the language not only broadens students’ horizons, but also opens their minds and helps them establish positive attitudes toward people from diverse backgrounds.
With so many personal and professional benefits to language studies, it’s plain to see why schools are eager to help children attain foreign language fluency. Why not support your child’s language mastery by joining in the fun and learning another language yourself? You never know when being bilingual or multilingual might come in handy!
Interested in rounding out your student’s education with learning a world language? Find a school near you to check out Connections Academy’s curriculum.