Say ‘Yes’ to Learning a World Language Early
The educational benefits of learning a world language early in life—or at any point—are numerous. With its world language offerings, AlphaBEST’s students are introduced to world languages, including Mandarin, Spanish, and American Sign Language. The world language curriculum created exclusively for AlphaBEST’s out-of-school time programs.
Elisabeth Shovers, former Executive Director of Global Language Project and life-long lover and supporter of language learning, knows from personal experience the impact speaking more than one language can have.
“I started Mandarin in elementary school at an after school program and French and Spanish in middle school, which was as early as my school district offered language programming,” said Shovers, who has gone on to also study German, Arabic, and Wolof. “I think studying these languages opened my eyes to the wider world and got me excited to travel and meet people from different cultures at a younger age.”
From an educational standpoint, Shover notes bilinguals show signs of:
- Greater cognitive flexibility.
- Increased social and emotional abilities.
- Greater academic success.
- A global mindset.
Outside of the classroom benefits also abound:
- Empathy. Being able to relate to and better understand others who might come to the table with a different point of view.
- Greater cognitive flexibility.This allows for a better capacity for multi-tasking, sharper memories, and self-awareness.
Shover has seen these benefits in action with students on trips to Chinatown or parts of New York, places where they get to use their Mandarin or Spanish skills to connect with others.
“It’s so exciting for them to realize that the subject they have been learning is not just for the classroom, but leads to wonderful human connections,” said Shover. “This always increases their excitement and makes them want to continue learning more of the language.”
Learning early serves students well, especially in a diverse and multicultural world.
“I believe gaining a second language not only offers greater career opportunities and earning potential, but also makes people more understanding and curious about the wider world—qualities I think are so important in our current world climate!”
Photo courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action.