Less talked about benefits of Languages study​

If you Google ‘why study a language’ you’ll get over six billion results. A lot of the answers will be familiar to you. Things like ‘language learning is great for your brain’ and ‘language learning is great for your career’. You’ve heard these before and chances are your students, their parents and your school leadership terms have heard these too. So let’s approach the ‘why study a language’ topic from some fresh perspectives. 

 

These less talked about ideas may help you in your Languages PR efforts.  

1. Languages classes can be highly supportive environments for students with learning difficulties.

Some schools immediately assume that students who struggle with language and communication (due to conditions such as autism or developmental language disorder) do not belong in the Languages class. There is that common trope of ‘this kid needs to learn English before they worry about learning another language.’

 

As we all know as Languages teachers, the literacy skills learnt in the foreign languages classroom can be transferable to English. But even more so, it’s just really sad to see students missing out on what could be a site of great inclusion and success for them. Of course, each student is unique, but it’s worth considering on a case by case basis which subjects students may benefit from, as opposed to always removing them from Languages. 

 

As Languages teachers, we provide our students with lots of repetition of language, lots of scaffolding and lots of opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge – all of these strategies can be highly supportive for learners with diverse needs.

2. Languages classes can be highly supportive environments for EALD students

How often are EALD students viewed as being at a disadvantage in our schooling system in Australia, as opposed to their multilingualism being viewed as a rich resource? 

 

Molyneux etal (2016) highlight the importance of schools and teachers ‘being sensitised’ to the ‘significant reserves of linguistic and cultural knowledge’ EALD students bring to the classroom and how this sets them up for success in language study overall. Let’s capitalise on this in our languages classes. 

 

One by-product of fostering an environment of multilingualism is that students from EALD backgrounds can see and feel that because other languages and cultures are valued at the school, that their language and culture matters, too. And that is both powerful and important. 

3. Languages has the potential to alleviate a range of timetabling and 'overcrowded curriculum' issues

What if a proportion of the History curriculum was delivered through your Languages classes? What if some aspect of your school’s social and emotional learning program was delivered by you in the target language? What if you chose a cultural topic that dovetailed nicely with something from another learning area? You may already do this to some extent. Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) pedagogy is one way of approaching this. CLIL is the mandated method of teaching Languages in Italy and is gaining momentum in Australia, too.  

Hopefully some of these ideas are good conversation starters at your school. 

 

What are some the less-talked-about benefits of language learning that you have witnessed in your teaching? We’d love to hear from you as it’s so important that we expand the narrative on the value of language learning.

P.S. Did you know that in our assessment pack for Avanti Tutta! we provide differentiated tasks for students who require extra support? This is a very popular feature with the teachers who use Avanti Tutta!

 

Differentiated reading and listening tasks will also be a key feature in Peko Peko.

 

Please contact us if you’d like to know more.