Why it’s important to learn a language

Why its important to learn a language

Luna Smith , Ranger Review Staff

She stepped foot off the plane and onto the worn out navy blue carpet. The air smelled fresh, almost clean but stale at the same time. She heard footsteps behind her and picked up her pace. She walked swiftly to the end of the walkway that connects the plane to the airport. At last, she got to the edge of the gate and looked up at the signs. “Eggsit?” she read or attempted to read quietly to herself. She walked up to the counter and asked the receptionist, “Spanish? You know exit?”

“Si,” the receptionist responded. He continued to explain the directions in Spanish to her.

 

She was relieved when he started speaking Spanish. She was nervous. It was her first time traveling to the US on her own. Finally she got to the exit and a cheeky smile slid across her face as she saw her boyfriend just a couple feet away. She walked up to him.

“Hola mi amor,” she whispered into his ear as they hugged. 

My dad looked down at my mom. “Hi,” he responded with the biggest grin on his face. 

Moving to Washington from Mexico was a challenge for my mom. Because she was pregnant, she didn’t take the time to look for a job and the only person she really had was my dad, who at the time could not speak Spanish that well. 

My mom felt a strong feeling of isolation when she first moved to the United States. Not many people could speak Spanish and she had no one to turn to. If learning a language was normalized and more popular, non-English speaking people or immigrants would feel more comfortable and included. 

Mexicans and Latin Americans make up about 25% of the migration population. Furthermore, the most spoken language other than English in the USA is Spanish. As the years have gone by, more and more Hispanics have entered the US and their community is growing by the second. 

Is an integrated community with many Spanish speaking bilinguals in the future? Not only would this help the economy, but it could also bring a sense of home to those immigrants and unite the community. 

Spanish teacher Margaret Corral believes that learning a language is important and beneficial. Currently, taking a language class is not required for juniors and seniors, yet you see about an 85% participation rate from the upperclassman. 

“I feel really proud of our language program,” Corral says. 

The French program used to be much stronger in Maine as a whole because of the close connection to French that so many Mainers had to Canada.  At one point, Greely had a French program that started in kindergarten and went to third grade.  Although the program did not last, students who took the program came away with much improved French speaking skills than those who did not.

A similar experience is taking place at Lyseth Elementary School, the only school in Maine to offer a Spanish immersion program. Starting in kindergarten, students speak Spanish throughout the day except for music and art class. This goes on up until the high school level. Research shows that students who can speak multiple languages have a higher chance of getting better grades in school and learning a language might help the brain  process information better. Corral feels strongly that students should start learning a second language at a younger age. Not only would being bilingual improve people’s thinking skills and memory abilities, but it would also allow for students and people in general to communicate and unite with those that don’t speak English.

At the end of the day Corral wants to accommodate to the students’ needs. This means listening to what they want. She is curious whether giving students a choice would foster a desire  to learn more languages.

“Globalization has changed a lot,” Corral says. “There are a lot of Asian languages. If we are looking at the demographic of most spoken languages, certainly Mandarin is up there. It would be interesting if students are interested in learning that.”