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Why should I study a second language?

We are often asked this question, and our IB Coordinator Casper Buisman sat down with us recently to give us insight into why studying a second language is good for your brain and your global citizenship.

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Language acquisition or in other words, learning a second language, is an important concept in terms of making students think in a different way than they have ever done before. Words and sentence structure are different from their native language and this supports intellectual development greatly.  Language acquisition is also an important aspect of International Mindedness and intercultural understanding as every language comes with its own culture.

Students at Melbourne Montessori School have the opportunity to begin or continue to advance their ability in a language of choice. In Junior School our Cycle 1 to Cycle 3 children enjoy Italian:

We start with a very gentle introduction to the second language of Italian in Cycle 1 with games, artefacts and songs. Our Italian teacher enjoys finding natural, spontaneous opportunities to invite the interest of our youngest learners as a fun way of gradually introducing Italian words into conversation.

In Cycle 2 Italian, children begin to understand and use Italian within the world of their own experience and imagination with some topics drawn from other areas of learning including exchanging simple personal information and opinions, and creating and performing short skits in the language. They start to recognise, read and locate items of information in short texts and write short sentences and paragraphs.

In Cycle 3 Italian, children learn Italian and now make logical attempts to find meaning from written and spoken material and begin to use resources such as bi-lingual dictionaries. They learn strategies for retaining language information for later use in new applications and develop an understanding of how parts of the language system works. They are not only learning another language but also learn about cultural differences associated with a language other than English. Children are encouraged to speak in Italian and apply their learning in a number of situations and activities such as instructions, reading, stories, role-playing, dialogue, performance, singing with actions, reciting and games.

From Cycle 4 onwards, our Senior School students can choose from Italian, French or Mandarin. This is integrated into the classroom environment and taught and studied independently using a range of online resources and materials. Students immerse themselves in a foreign language; exploring the culture and advancing reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.

In Mandarin, for example, our Cycle 4 and 5 students learn how to:

  • Use many of the basic Chinese language used in daily life.
  • Provided with learning activities for the students to get a better understanding of the Chinese culture.
  • Engaged in a variety of fun and engaging activities.
  • Develop overall language skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing.
  • Open up new pathways and opportunities later in life.

The intention of our Senior School language programs is:

  1. To enable students to communicate in the target language, in a range of contexts and for a variety of purposes.
  2. To provide a platform for students to explore, in greater depth, the culture of the language and its people.
  3. To reflect on how language is constructed and manipulated in order to achieve the intended outcome.
  4. To equip students with language that will allow them to engage in conversation.
  5. To provide students with an insight into the culture of the language.
  6. To reflect on how language is constructed and compare it to that of the learner.

But don’t just take our word for it! Here are some more scientifically informed reasons to study a second language:

Twenty-Five Reasons to Study Foreign Languages
(from Auburn University)

  1. Foreign Language study creates more positive attitudes and less prejudice toward people who are different.
  2. Analytical skills improve when students study a foreign language.
  3. Business skills plus foreign language skills make an employee more valuable in the marketplace.
  4. Dealing with another culture enables people to gain a more profound understanding of their own culture.
  5. Creativity is increased with the study of foreign languages.
  6. Graduates often cite foreign language courses as some of the most valuable courses in college because of the communication skills developed in the process.
  7. International travel is made easier and more pleasant through knowing a foreign language.
  8. Skills like problem solving, dealing with abstract concepts, are increased when you study a foreign language.
  9. Foreign language study enhances one’s opportunities in government, business, medicine, law, technology, military, industry, marketing, etc.
  10. A second language improves your skills and grades in math and English and on the SAT and GRE.
  11. Four out of five new jobs in the US are created as a result of foreign trade.
  12. Foreign languages provide a competitive edge in career choices: one is able to communicate in a second language.
  13. Foreign language study enhances listening skills and memory.
  14. One participates more effectively and responsibly in a multi-cultural world if one knows another language.
  15. Your marketable skills in the global economy are improved if you master another language.
  16. Foreign language study offers a sense of the past: culturally and linguistically.
  17. The study of a foreign tongue improves the knowledge of one’s own language: English vocabulary skills increase.
  18. The study of foreign languages teaches and encourages respect for other peoples: it fosters an understanding of the interrelation of language and human nature.
  19. Foreign languages expand one’s view of the world, liberalise one’s experiences, and make one more flexible and tolerant.
  20. Foreign languages expand one’s world view and limit the barriers between people: barriers cause distrust and fear.
  21. Foreign language study leads to an appreciation of cultural diversity.
  22. As immigration increases we need to prepare for changes in the American society.
  23. One is at a distinct advantage in the global market if one is as bilingual as possible.
  24. Foreign languages open the door to art, music, dance, fashion, cuisine, film, philosophy, science…
  25. Foreign language study is simply part of a very basic liberal education: to “educate” is to lead out, to lead out of confinement and narrowness and darkness.

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2023 Term Dates

We are pleased to share with you the term dates for the 2023 School Year at Melbourne Montessori School.