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Studies have shown that children who learn a foreign language develop stronger academic and intellectual skills in other subject areas. For example, one researcher found that students who had taken a foreign language in high school had a significantly higher grade point average in all high school subjects as well as in freshman English courses in college. Even "dead" languages such as Latin seem to have a positive impact. Novelist John Updike attributes the overall decline in the quality of writing over the last few decades to the disappearance of Latin from the general curriculum. As he put it, "In some curious way, the study of this dead and intricate language enabled writers to write a beautiful, clear idiomatic English."
The operative word here is "children." If one does not start learning a foreign language in childhood, one might as well forget about it. The LAD (Language Aquisition Device) is lost at about 12 or 13, and it is absurd to try to learn any foreign language in college. Everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE, with whom I have spoken who took four semesters of foreign language in college cannot speak it now--in fact, they admit they forgot what they did manage to learn in about 6 months. This is a ridiculous requirement in Arts and Sciences, and ought to be dropped-- (Incidentally, sp far as taking a foreign language improving one's other grades--sorry, it certainly wasn't true in my case--)
|Sheri Ann Richerson|