In 2017 a census report showed that roughly one in five Americans speak a language other than English at home. While this is a decent sized percentage of bilingual people in America, more people should make an effort to learn a second language. It’s been proven that learning a second language has many benefits, and provides several opportunities for people to make more success in their personal, professional and educational settings.
The most apparent benefit of being bilingual is the better development in children. According to psychologist Agnes Kovacs, bilingual children have an exponentially improved executive function than children who only know one language. This means they are better at planning, solving problems as well as many other challenging tasks. In addition to these, if students were required to start learning a foreign language from a young age, then they would have better control of important cognitive processes as they grow older.
Another reason to learn a second language is that it has more appeal to most employers. According to the Lead with Languages organization, the number of jobs between 2010 and 2015 that were posted specifically for bilingual candidates more than doubled from previous years. It is also common for employers to offer incentives for those who speak foreign languages, such as increased salaries and hiring bonuses. Overall, speaking a foreign language helps set those who do apart from everyone else.
Requiring people, specifically students, to speak a foreign language isn’t a new idea. A study performed by Pew Research center showed that 92% of K-12 students in Europe spoke a second language, and that ten states (as well as the District of Columbia) require high school students to learn a foreign language before they graduate. If all states added foreign language to their graduation requirements, it would also help educate students who might not otherwise get the opportunity to learn a second language.
Learning a second language has an immense amount of benefits, and allows for a better education for students. If all people made an effort to learn a second language, there could be many more advancements and overall positive changes made to society.