Three Reasons Why Language Teaching Is Important

“All art is quite useless.” So said Oscar Wilde and stirred a great debate which continues even to this day.

Even if art is useless, it’s certainly not worthless. It may not solve great riddles of quantum mechanics, but it’s still necessary.

Languages form an important part of the arts, and in this article I intend to show you why language teaching is important; why it’s more than merely a method to communicate.

Reduces Risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Each of these diseases concern loss of memory; particularly in old age.

Many studies have been conducted on this topic, and the results are consistent.

For adults who knew only a single language, the mean age for the first signs of dementia were found to be 71.4.

For adults who speak two or more languages, the mean age for the first signs of the disease was 75.5, 4.1 years more than the former!

And this was no accident. Studies took into account other factors, such as education level, income, gender and physical health, but the results remained the same.

Makes You More Open-minded

A good novel of any language captures the essence of the culture, of the time-period, and the location where the novel is set.

That’s why Yann Martel once said, “There is no greater representation of reality than a great novel.” And Hillary Mantel concluded, “The historian tells us what happened, the novelist tells us how it felt while it was happening.”

This is a strong basis for why language teaching is important. The more languages you learn, the more literature of different languages you can read; which opens yourself up to different cultures and histories.

Seeing the world from a different perspective and understanding that different societies have many common emotions and desires is an eye-opening experience.

To Better Understand Our Thought Processes

Our very existence depends on language. And no, I don’t mean it in a poetic context.

Philosophers say consciousness cannot exist without language.

“I’m sitting at my desk.” “I’m writing this article.” “After I finish this, I’ll go have dinner.”

I can call myself conscious because I can think these thoughts, but I’m thinking them in a language, the English language.

So, if a species has no language, then most likely it will lack consciousness because consciousness is dependent on language.

You see the argument?

To understand the true roots of our thought processes a knowledge of several languages may be necessary.

I hope this article will help you realize why language teaching is important because it is not some frivolous activity, as some people might imagine it to be.

After the Grammar Schools, Who Teaches Grammar?

A recent article praised the supreme achievement of English education, the grammar school, which flourished for a few short decades before it fell in the 1960s to the scythe of egalitarianism and mediocrity. Grammar schools taught far more than grammar, but they rightly placed great emphasis on the study of language as the foundation of all learning. Since their demise, there has been a marked decline in the teaching of grammar that has been associated with a noticeable decline in the standard of spoken, and especially, written English, and brought about a situation in which twelve years old children in non-English-speaking countries like Vietnam know more English grammar than students at school in England.

English Grammar was a subject that every student at grammar school in England took at the General Certificate of Education (GCE) Ordinary Level (‘O’ level) examination at the end of their fifth year in secondary school, at the age of 15 or 16. Over five years, the students learned in detail about tenses, parts of speech, spelling and punctuation and went on to clause analysis, précising and essay writing. Many students left grammar school at this stage, while the others entered the sixth form to prepare for university, but all passed out into the world with a thorough grounding in their native language.

Students at grammar school also studied English literature and this was examined at GCE ‘O’ level as a separate subject, but while English Literature was optional, English Grammar was compulsory. Other languages were taught and the most common were Latin and French. When learning a foreign language it is essential to understand its grammar and this is much easier if the grammar of one’s own language is well understood. In a country like Vietnam, with a language that has only four tenses, no irregular verbs and no declining verbs, English grammar can seem extremely complex, but it is mastered systematically.

The English language has been adopted as the international medium of communication. Children in every land are set to learn English as the compulsory second language. The peoples of all those lands in which English is the mother tongue have a responsibility to maintain standards so that it remains universally comprehended. History has shown that the natural tendency of all languages is to split into dialects and eventually into new languages. This must be resisted if English is to remain globally understood. The rules of its grammar must be universally taught and applied, and England, the land of its origin, should play a leading role in this essential mission.

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The Importance of a Second Language and a Language School

The economy today is getting more and more globalized, which means that people are interacting across countries and cultures; this was not the case before. To take full advantage of this opportunity, it is very important to attend a language school and learn a second language.

If you learn a new language it will surely help you to correspond across cultures and run your business in places you wouldn’t have interacted with otherwise. The ability to communicate in another language allows you to speak with your customers in the language they are most comfortable with.

Many business leaders are recognizing that in order to compete in the international market they need to be well adept in several foreign languages. Knowledge of your clients’ language and culture shows that you respect them as individuals. It also shows that you understand their needs better than your business competitors who may not have this background.

Your clients are more likely to trust you when you speak their language. There will also be a closer relationship between you, rather than if you were to conduct all communications using a translator. This can be an important step in building strong and lasting business relationships, which in turn will help make your business more successful.

Besides, a second language is also necessary if you want to explore a different culture and visit new places.

An article published in The New York Times stated, “The collective evidence from a number of such studies suggests that the bilingual experience improves the brain’s so-called executive function – a command system that directs the attention processes that we use for planning, solving problems, and performing various other mentally demanding tasks.”

Learning a second language improves brain function and stimulates creativity. Learning a new language allows you to make connections you couldn’t make before because every language approaches the world in a different way. As a result, it helps you understand the world from the point of view of a different culture, so you gain a better appreciation of society with all its variety.

This becomes another important reason to learn a second language. You not only gain the capability of communicating across cultures, but you also develop the faculty to understand another perspective.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise either that some various psychological studies have shown that reading literary fiction improves empathy. By learning about others we are able to better understand and empathize with their concerns, needs, and goals.