Learning Foreign Languages in Online School
For today’s students, mastering a world language is more than just a college admissions requirement—it can be a competitive advantage when searching for a job. As international trade and research has expanded, so has the demand for multilingual employees who can communicate with people worldwide. And with more language options and enhanced methods for practicing and gaining fluency in a second language, virtual schools are helping students prepare for success in the global economy.
Unexpected Benefits of Learning Another Language
While job hunting may be years in the future for your child, research proves that learning other languages benefits students in a variety of surprising ways. The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages reports that early language learning improves children’s cognitive abilities in many areas, including memory, intelligence, and problem solving.
Academics can also be enhanced by learning another language. In study after study, language students have demonstrated better reading skills in English than their peers who do not study a second language.
Regardless of the second language they are studying, students improve their word-study skills and make gains in their verbal expression of math and science. Additionally, language students of all ages perform better on standardized tests, including the SAT and ACT, which are used for college admissions.
Expanded World Language Course Choices
While many school districts are scaling back on the number of courses they offer, a high-quality online school may actually provide a wide range of foreign language options. For example, in addition to the typical French and Spanish language courses, Connections Academy’s curriculum also offers other online foreign language courses, like Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, German, and Latin. Students can even begin taking language course electives as early as elementary school.
New Ways to Learn Languages Online
Virtual school students gain new methods of developing their language skills by using technology. They attend class in online classrooms, where they can hear their teacher speak and where they see presentations on the whiteboard. Students ask and answer questions using chat, or teachers can invite them to use the microphone. Students can also work with other students in small groups. Because these live classroom sessions are usually recorded, students can watch lessons again to help them master pronunciation or a more challenging concept.
To improve fluency, Connections Academy courses in Spanish and Chinese also offer students Time to Talk, a new program that enables them to talk with a tutor who is a native speaker of their chosen language. Throughout the course, the student meets with the tutor in the virtual classroom, either one-on-one or as part of a small group. This gives them the opportunity to practice reading, speaking, and listening skills in their chosen world language.
Working with the tutor, students will also review specific lessons, demonstrate their understanding of course concepts and vocabulary, and practice communication skills. Parents and students have had an overwhelmingly positive response to the program, saying that the practice gained during Time to Talk makes a huge difference.
Learning Another Culture
The foreign language curriculum also helps students gain insight into the lifestyles of the people who speak their chosen language. Teachers may integrate geography, history, diet, traditions, beliefs, cooking, and other practices into lessons. This window into another culture enables language learners to see the world from a different perspective and to understand the language in the correct context.
Having an appreciation for the culture of people who speak the language not only broadens students’ horizons, but also opens their minds and helps them establish more positive attitudes toward people from different backgrounds.
With so many personal and professional benefits to language studies, it’s plain to see why schools are eager to help children attain foreign language fluency. Why not support your child’s language mastery by joining in the fun and learning another language yourself? You never know when being bilingual or multilingual might come in handy!
What fun approaches have you tried to help your student master a second language? Share your ideas in the comments, por favor.