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How Foreign Language Study Can Help Students Get Into College and Launch A Career

How Foreign Language Study Can Help Students Get Into College and Launch A Career

About 44 percent of US High School students are taking a language. Spanish with 69 percent of students engaged in language study and French with 18 percent far outpace the less than one percent of students enrolled in languages the government characterizes as crucial to national security. These languages include Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.

What are the benefits of language study?

(1) Language Study Leads to Higher Cognitive and Analytical Skills

Wilburn Robinson (1992) reviewing 144 research studies over three decades on the relationship between second language learning and cognitive skills observes that experience with two languages leaves students “with a mental flexibility, a superiority in concept formation, and a more diversified set of mental abilities.”

(2) Language Study Contributes to Higher Standardized Test Scores

A study by Armstrong and Rogers (1997) demonstrated that students taking a language for only one semester displayed significant gains in math achievement. Thomas Cooper in 1987 found that high school students who studied a foreign language scored significantly higher on the verbal section of the Scholastic Aptitude test than peers who did not enroll in language classes.

(3) Languages Broaden Your Understanding of Foreign Cultures In A Shrinking World

Languages offer a window into the nuances of other cultures. Through language study, students gain insights into world societies which cannot be fully understood through other academic disciplines.

(4) Colleges and Work Places Seek Out Individuals Who Display Intellectual Curiosity Beyond Their Immediate Environment

In a world with widespread cultural cross-fertilization, students with foreign language competencies are seen as assets by universities and work places. Private sector economic competition and public sector security interests are enhanced by workers who have immersed themselves in foreign language and cultures.


China, Korea, and many of the European Union countries mindful of the future and the need for a cosmopolitan and informed citizenry mandate school language instruction. The US government isn’t likely to take that step, but proactive families and students can take advantage of language study programs. The earlier the better, but it is never too late. The benefits will extend from the class-room to the work-place and beyond as students prepare for what is becoming a world without borders.


David Dickson is a college admission counselor at Top Test Prep which offer tutoring and test preparation with admissions experts who help you gain admission to your top schools. Call Top Test Prep today to learn more at (800) 501-Prep.

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