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Northwestern expert calls for more language learning in U.S.

Northwestern Now – Mohamed Abdelfattah

“Brian Edwards, Crown Professor in Middle East Studies at Northwestern University, has been addressing what he calls the “paradox of American attitudes toward multilingualism” and is involved in a major congressional initiative to expand language learning in the United States. Edwards participated in the writing of the first report on the nation’s language capacity in four decades. He has been involved with K-12 world language programs in Chicago and Evanston and has called for an increase in Arabic in Chicago Public Schools. “At a time when some want us to retrench into an America-first nativism, it’s all the more important to celebrate our multiple connections to the world,” Edwards said.”(more)

What Foreign Language Should You Study?

Master Studies – Joanna Hughes

“By now most of us are aware of the many advantages of learning another language. Multilingualism comes with a host of benefits, including everything from increased employment opportunities to opening your mind to different worldviews. In fact, many graduates cite foreign language studies as among the most important coursework they took in college. The evidence makes it clear: Learning a second language is well worth your time. Not so clear for many students? Which language to learn. While English is undeniably valuable, it’s far from the only appealing option. Here’s a closer look at five other languages which may offer a leading edge depending on your unique interests and goals.”(more)

German Prof: ‘Learning a foreign language can make you smarter’

The Wichitan – Herbert McCullough

“She talked about how influential Spanish is to American culture. The Spanish-speaking community in the United States dates back to the rise and fall of the Spanish Empire, the aftermath of the Mexican-American War and immigration. “Spanish is very influential if you look at the name of some of the cities in the American Southwest,” Butler said.”The Spanish colonized parts of the United States in their efforts to expand Catholicism and their wealth. Spanish culture has been a part of the United States before the birth of the United States. We have a lot of immigrants from Spanish speaking countries and we have a lot of people who lived here for a generation who are Spanish speakers.” Yvonne Frank, associate professor of German, also explained how important learning a foreign language is. She said learning a foreign language is a form of cognitive training, meaning that learning a foreign language can make a student smarter and enhance their understanding. Frank also added that those who learn a foreign language have a higher salary.”(more)

The importance of immersion: Foreign language instruction must be more interactive

The Collegiate Times – Nistha Dube

“As a student who has been studying Spanish for six years now, I decided to pursue a Spanish minor coming into college in hopes of mastering the language. I enjoyed learning about the various cultural elements and linguistic trends of the Latin American dialects throughout high school. Nevertheless, six classes later, I still can’t say I feel confident holding an in-depth conversation with a native speaker. After years of memorizing grammatical patterns, conjugation rules and endless vocabulary lists, I’ve realized that while I may be able to draft an impeccable AP-style essay within 20 minutes, I continue to struggle to string words together when attempting to speak the language.”(more)

In young bilingual children two languages develop simultaneously but independently

Medical X-Press – Staff Writer

“A new study of Spanish-English bilingual children by researchers at Florida Atlantic University published in the journal Developmental Science finds that when children learn two languages from birth each language proceeds on its own independent course, at a rate that reflects the quality of the children’s exposure to each language. In addition, the study finds that Spanish skills become vulnerable as children’s English skills develop, but English is not vulnerable to being taken over by Spanish. In their longitudinal data, the researchers found evidence that as the children developed stronger skills in English, their rates of Spanish growth declined. Spanish skills did not cause English growth to slow, so it’s not a matter of necessary trade-offs between two languages.”(more)

The importance of learning a modern language in a globalized world

Study International – Staff Writer

“Language learning was once considered nothing more than a hobby, but as the world continues to become increasingly connected, learning a language other than English is considered a necessity. Advancing technologies have afforded us the ability to communicate no matter where we are in the world, amplifying the importance of foreign language study. The great thing about languages is that, other than being a form of communication, they also serve as a means of relating to others on a cultural level.”(more)