Setting Early Foundations for World Language Studies
Lower School students can receive a huge benefit from focusing on World Language studies in elementary education. Despite this fact, though, according to Education Week
, only about 25% of elementary schools in the U.S., public or private, offer any form of world language program.
Many studies indicate that learning another language increases mental ability: cognitive and critical thinking skills, memory, concentration and verbal ability. In addition, it also offers children a better understanding of their native language and an enriched experience of other cultures. After all, the world comes into the school when children learn another language. As the world of business has become increasingly global, it is setting students up for success to not only be able to communicate in other languages, but to understand the cultures that speak those languages.
It is possible to learn a language at any age, but starting young with world language has a lot of advantages:
Children have more time to learn a language. It takes many years to become truly fluent.
Children are wired to learn languages. They have the ability to repeat any sound in another language and to speak with almost native pronunciation, enabling them to be understood, and able to hear and understand better. They acquire a comfort level that comes from growing up with the language.
The personal connections that learning another language provides can make other cultures come alive and, more directly, make lessons about global and local diversity easier to impart to young students.
Languages add multiple dimensions to other areas of study, such as social studies, art and music.
Learning a language helps with literacy in English and enhances problem solving.
In order for these benefits to sink in and take root, students need to start at an early age and they need to be allowed time to practice and develop their skills just as with any academic subject.
At Ranney, the Lower School has made a commitment to enhancing the world language experience for our students in grades 2-5 by increasing the number of world language classes they take in a six day letter rotation from two to three classes per cycle.
Specifically, students in grades 2-5 will attend world language class every other day, which will create consistent touch points while decreasing the homework expectations for students.
It is the goal of the Ranney Lower School leadership through this commitment, to develop students who have a conversational level of proficiency in their world language of choice by the time they graduate 5th grade at Ranney and move on to Middle School.