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Invest in Elementary World Language Now

With all the upheavals in education caused by the pandemic, school districts across the nation face many challenges. Delays in learning affect curricular planning and interventions. The disruption of school closures and subsequent social isolation contribute to higher levels of anxiety and depression among students. Decreases in enrollment bring in less revenue. More than ever we need educational programming that will have a positive impact on our students and help alleviate some of the organizational challenges facing districts. This is why now is a great time to invest in elementary world language education.

Develop Executive Function to Address Learning Delays

Delays in learning, due to the pandemic, are very real. Some analyses suggests that as a result of the pandemic K-12 students are as much as four and five months behind in reading and mathematics. Achievement gaps have also widened among disadvantaged groups. Interventions and changes in curricular planning are already taking place to address these issues, but students will need more. One of the easiest ways to overcome learning delays, and their potential long-term effects, is to develop executive function in kids.

Executive function covers a range of activities that could profoundly enhance the ability of students to manage and overcome learning delays. They include:

  • Problem-solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Concentrating
  • Using memory
  • Listening
  • Planning

Various studies have shown that second language study and bilingualism improve the brain’s executive function. Generally speaking, the executive control in our brains is fortified by using a second language because language processing calls it into action. The more the brain does this, the more efficient it becomes at performing tasks that require executive control.

School districts will spend a lot of time and resources trying to solve the problem of learning delays. An effective part of the solution already exists in elementary world language education. The cognitive advantages of learning a second language have always been helpful for young learners, but students need executive function now more than ever, and language study develops it.

Use Compassion and Connection To Heal

One of the most impactful benefits of learning a second language is that students gain understanding and appreciation for people from other cultures. When language students learn about other cultures, whether from other countries or in the their own communities, they develop more positive attitudes and compassion towards the people of those cultures. Children who learn compassion for others also learn compassion for themselves. Both offer proven mental health benefits.

Speaking another language also offers a direct connection to other cultures. Language learners open themselves to new experiences and new friends when they speak another language. These connections can have a huge impact on children’s confidence and self esteem.

Elementary language students develop a broader perspective of the world—one that teaches them about the differences between cultures and the similarities among humans. This perspective deepens their connection to other humans. They learn that children from other cultures may have similar challenges as they do. They may see that children from other cultures face challenges that are more severe than the ones they face. For children who are experiencing anxiety or depression, this broader perspective of the world can be a powerful healing tool.

The compassion and connections that students develop when they study language have the potential to have a huge impact on mental health. The mental health crisis among young students in the United States is widespread. Districts that invest in elementary world language education now will be taking an important step towards alleviating this crisis.

Offer World Languages to Increase Revenue

The many benefits of early language education are well known by now. So why is it that only 20 percent of K-12 students in the United States study world languages? Scheduling, staffing, and funding all impact the decision. Parents are more aware of the benefits of early language study than in the past, so demand is up.

Many states are seeing enrollment in K-12 schools decrease for a second year in a row, and decreases in enrollment lead to decreases in revenue. There are many factors contributing to this, but one is that many students simply have not returned from the home schooling they established during the pandemic. Home schooling gives families more flexibility with curricular choices—including the ability to teach world language.

Districts that offer world languages, especially at the elementary level, have a competitive advantage. Complete and effective curriculum, like Sonrisas Spanish, gives districts the ability to not only realize the benefits of elementary language study for their students, but also to have a valuable marketing tool to attract students back to their schools. This is why now, more than ever before, it is the right time to invest in elementary world language education.

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