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Why learn a foreign language?

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Reasons for the importance of retaining diversity in language offerings at K-12 schools.

Reasons for the importance of retaining diversity in language offerings at K-12 schools.

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  • 1. Why languages? Why choices? World Language Study Open Forum Feb 8, 2007
  • 2.
    • “ Die Grenzen meiner Sprache
    • sind die Grenzen meiner Welt.”
    • ………………………
    • “ The limits of my language
    • are the limits of my world.”
    • Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosopher
  • 3. Academic Benefits
    • Enhances listening skills and memory. (Ratte, 1968).
    • Help build analytical and critical thinking skills (Met, 2001)
    • Promotes understanding of native language. (Vygotsky, 1968, 160)
    • Reinforces and enriches every area of the curriculum
      • Reading, Writing, Math, Science, Social Studies, Phy Ed, Music, Art and even FACS (Curtain, Dahlberg, 2004)
    • Language students routinely score highest on all subjects in the SAT. (The SAT College Board, 2004)
  • 4. Just for “gifted” ?
    • In the U.S. long considered “elitist” subject, which few could master
      • Studies have proven wrong (Boynton, 1994)
    • Still seen as a “frill for the smart kids” (Moore/English, 1999; Met, 2001)
    • Struggling and at-risk students can succeed!
  • 5. Just for “gifted” ?
    • Second language learning less dependent on previous verbal learning than other subjects
    • Everyone starts at same point . Empowering!
    • Allows students to succeed, who otherwise experienced failure in school
    • Language students have a significantly higher self-concept than non-language students. (Masciantonia, 1977)
  • 6. Choice Matters!
    • Students are more successful at learning languages when they can choose the language of their interest
    • “ Cultural distance” greatly affects success. Students with real-world connections and cultural backgrounds similar to those of the target language/culture will learn the language with greater ease and success. (Zhang, 2006)
    • Case in point: German students committed
      • Lowest attrition rates
      • Majority of families have direct connections to German-speaking countries
  • 7. Diversity is basic
    • “ Nearly every sector of our increasingly global economy and culturally diverse workforce needs multilingual, cross-culturally aware workers.” (Carreira & Armengol, “Heritage Languages in America: Preserving a National Resource.”)
    • Languages teach open-mindedness for diversity and cultural understanding!
  • 8. Career Advantages
    • More creative, critical thinkers and problem solvers!
      • (Bamford, Mizokawa, 1991; Cummins, 1992)
    • 95% of the world’s population lives outside U.S. (Minnesota Trade Office)
    • 2/3 of the world’s purchasing power outside U.S. (Minnesota Trade Office)
  • 9. Business Etiquette
    • “ If I’m selling to you,
    • I speak your language.
    • If I’m buying, dann m üssen Sie
    • Deutsch sprechen.“
    • Willy Brandt, former Chancellor of Germany
  • 10. Career Advantages
    • Minnesota Trade Office:
      • Largest export regions for manufactured goods (largest segment)
        • Asia / Pacific
        • EU & Non EU
        • North America
      • In each region, a different business language!
        • Chinese/Japanese (Asia)
        • German (EU/Non-EU)
        • French/English/Spanish (North America)
  • 11. Career Advantages
    • Minnesota Trade Office:
      • Fastest growing export regions for manufactured goods (largest segment)
        • Asia / Pacific
        • Non EU Europe
        • Central/South America
        • Middle East and Africa
      • Again in each region, a different business language is used!
        • Chinese/Japanese (Asia)
        • German (EU/Non-EU Europe)
        • Spanish (North America)
        • French (Africa)
        • Arabic (Middle East)
  • 12. Diversity a must
    • If everyone has
    • the same language skills,
    • who has the edge
    • in a competitive market?
  • 13. Soft factors
    • Expanding personal horizons!
    • Appreciation of foreign literature, film, music
    • Learn about own heritage, relatives
    • Openness for Diversity
  • 14.
    • “ Die Grenzen meiner Sprache
    • sind die Grenzen meiner Welt.”
    • ………………………
    • “ The limits of my language
    • are the limits of my world.”
    • Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosopher