World Language Introduction
"The World brought to you by the World Language Educators of the Livonia Public Schools."
Learning World Languages is an essential goal for all students. Today’s interdependent world economy and our American society require that we interact with other people from other cultures. Regardless of the specific languages our students learn, learning another language gives them the tools they need to communicate across cultural borders. This is an invaluable gift.
To study another language and culture enhances one’s personal education in many ways. It is only in learning a new linguistic system that one acquires an objective view of one’s native language. For someone who has never learned a second language, this point is difficult to comprehend; for those who have learned one, it is extremely clear. The structural bones of one’s language, the limits to the range of ideas expressible in that language, the intense interdependence of language and culture—all these concepts become apparent only as second language acquisition takes place. The student becomes aware of the ways in which language speakers easily switch levels of discourse as the context of communication changes. The contributions of volume, pitch, speed, and tone of voice to the emotional layers of language become clear. The language learner also realizes that eye contact, facial expressions, and gestures play a vital role in enhancing the message that is being conveyed. With these understandings comes a new-found respect for the beauty and grace of others’ languages, as well as one’s own.
To study another language and culture also increases one’s ability to see connections. Since the content of a World Language course deals with history, geography, social studies, science, math, and the fine arts, it is easy to develop an interdisciplinary perspective at the same time one is gaining intercultural understandings.
To study another language and culture is to gain an especially rich preparation for the future. It is difficult to imagine a job, profession, a career, or a leisure activity in the twenty-first century which will not be enhanced by the ability to communicate efficiently and sensitively with others. While it is impossible to foresee which World Language will be useful at a later point in life, those who have once experienced the process of acquiring a second language have gained language learning skills that make learning another language easier. Possession of the linguistics and cultural insights which come with a World Language study will be a requisite for life as a citizen in the 21st century worldwide community.