Those who fluently speak a second language (or more) are gifted with the opportunity to communicate with many different people and cultures.
But that’s not all.
Studies have shown that learning a second language also improves one’s command over their native tongue.
We’ve examined how language is learned in infancy and, for the past couple of weeks, we’ve discussed how second language learning can improve our cognitive learning and creativity.
While we’ve mainly looked at younger, elementary-school level students when analyzing the effects of second language learning, the positive impacts continue into adolescence and adulthood.
Let’s see what happens.
Greater Academic Success
A 1984 study by Robert Skelton examined the differences in academic achievement between college students who didn’t study a foreign language in high school and those who did.
Both groups of students had the same level of intelligence and the same socio-economic background.
And yet, the foreign language group showed superior academic achievement overall in college than those who had no foreign language experience.
The study concluded:
“Statistical analysis, reason, and the experience of generations force us to the conclusion that the study of foreign language does improve one’s command of his own language, thereby enhancing one’s control of subject matter in the fields in which language is the vehicle of instruction.”
Latin is Best
A further study by Patricia Davis Wiley, published in 1985, explored the same hypothesis and arrived at the same conclusion.
Wiley’s study, too, found a correlation between high school foreign language study and achievement in higher academia.
High school students who studied Spanish, French, German, or Latin went on to perform better at a college level than their peers of equal academic ability.
In fact, those students who studied Latin proved to achieve the highest levels overall in college success, measured by GPA, and in freshman English grades specifically – possibly because over 60% of English words have Greek or Latin roots.
A 2001 study by Amedeo D’Angiulli of Italian/English bilingual students, ranging from 9 to 13 years old, also showed higher word-reading and spelling skills than their monolingual counterparts.
Do all of these positive aspects of second language learning make you want to become bilingual?
We’ll talk about how to learn a new language next week.