Language learning facilitates success at all levels


The Appalachian Online

Lindsey Chandler

In North Carolina, language education has, for the most part, fallen by the wayside for high school and college students.

For admission into an institution within the UNC system, at least two classes’ worth of one language are required, according to Surprisingly and disappointingly enough, these classes are not actually required for high school graduation.

At Appalachian State University, a bachelor of arts degree candidate is required to complete at least two intermediate courses in another language, and some of our general education themes incorporate language instruction, as well. Students seeking bachelor of science degrees may never have to enroll in any language courses at all throughout their academic careers – and they like it that way.

Students that work only to fulfill requirements for college or graduation are casting the importance of another language aside. Most students avoid extraneous courses they do not believe hold benefits for their career paths, and courses surrounding language are usually at the top of those lists.

Unfortunately, foregoing some level of education in an additional language comes at a disadvantage.

Various experimental studies have elucidated the benefits of language learning that are applicable to virtually every domain.

From a cognitive perspective, bilingual education fine-tunes our executive functioning, which plays a role in problem solving and planning. Exposure to additional languages also makes students more aware of their surroundings through increased perceptible stimuli in the environment.

At times, education in an additional language can also teach us things we would not normally learn for our native languages, such as grammatical structures and rules of syntax, which are important to literacy.

In addition to cognitive and educational advantages, bilingualism or multilingualism enables students to think about the world from different perspectives. Thinking outside of an isolated point of view can be beneficial for making informed decisions and understanding how events relate on the world scale.

Thankfully, the North Carolina State Board of Education is starting at the very foundations of education to introduce reforms, and they have the statistics to support these reforms. The board has committed to expanding dual-language programs throughout the state, hoping to establish at least one K-12 dual-language immersion school in each of the state’s 115 districts, according to

One institution from which the state draws inspiration is Collinswood Language Academy, a K-8, dual-language school in Charlotte that produces students who consistently score some of the highest mathematics achievement scores in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district.

Children at this school already demonstrate knowledge beyond that which language teaches. It is my hope that the early success of these students will determine their interests in language when and if they pursue higher education, and that higher education systems will recognize the advantages of language learning, as well.

These students are living examples of the benefits of language learning. Language is far more than just an optional curriculum requirement. It is a practical tool that aids in success for those who understand its importance.

Chandler, a senior psychology and Spanish major from Cary, is the opinion editor.