The Significance of World Languages
By: Leona Kim
Sterling Academy's World Language Department has become a surprising draw for students considering online learning. Among the main reasons for this attraction is Sterling’s unique selection of languages that many traditional schools have discontinued or never even offered.
According to Latin teacher Claudia Heilman, “Schools are trying to cut costs by canceling extra classes outside of [the] basic curriculum. Latin teachers are also difficult to find outside of major hubs.” Fortunately for Sterling Academy, Ms. Heilman's instruction is creating Sterling as a hub for Latin.
“Latin is the base for all Romance Languages,” Ms. Heilman states, “Latin provides a foundation for learning another language, …careers in either medicine or law, …and gives a student discipline and order in which to study anything….”
Chinese teacher Wengfeng Su agrees, “Knowing another language affects the lives of many students due to globalization; the whole world is opening doors to them, especially in the workforce…These doors to many different worlds are opening to them; students are no longer trapped in boxes.”
Sterling Academy’s foreign languages have brought a major influence, to the point where students demand an even greater challenge. Ms. Su adds, “One parent contacted me for Chinese III and recommended Mr. Harshbarger to implement this class. This shows that many students enjoyed taking Chinese I and II; this shows influence because they want a bigger challenge.”
“Knowing another language brings the possibility of working or studying overseas and truly being able to get immersed in the culture,” said German teacher Christine Schneider who even influenced one of her students, “I remember a student from a few years ago…did a 3-month exchange in Germany, then the following year was able to get an internship for a high school work experience program…because she was able to speak the language fluently….”
Not only does learning a foreign language increase a student’s awareness of a country’s culture, but it can also be beneficial for the SATs and the ACTs. Spanish teacher Ligia Alves verifies this claim, “Using another language can help students with questions about grammar and vocabulary…they learn cultures, they learn their own grammar, and [communication] becomes much easier all over the world.”
According to promotelatin.org, Latin, German, and French students earned higher scores on the SAT than students who did not take a foreign language. Overall, bilingual students generally earn higher scores than every monolingual student.
The experiences of Sterling Academy's World Language faculty supports the idea that studying a second language is a motivational factor in academic improvement. Their observations are supported by studies that give the evidence validating their observations.