ECTACO Info | ¿Como te llamas? - Knowing a second language improves cognitive abilities, memory

by, By William Axford

English may still reign supreme as the language of choice in America, but other languages like Spanish, French and Mandarin continue to grow in popularity, especially inside of homes. The Pew Research Center reports that a record 37.6 million people 5 years and older speak Spanish, with 2.8 million speaking Mandarin and another 2.1 million speaking French.
 In a world dominated by globalization and the Internet, knowing a second language is becoming a factor for success rather than a novelty. “Learning a language can be accomplished at any age,” said Amy Pardee, a Spanish teacher at Lake Fenton High School. “We live in a global community where communication can be accomplished instantly between countries. Therefore, it is especially vital to know other languages for the sake of communication. If you are bilingual, it opens many opportunities in various occupations.”
 But other than increasing success career-wise and widening opportunities for college acceptance, knowing another language can improve your health. Trends in Cognitive Sciences magazine has published reports that indicate being bilingual can delay Alzheimer’s and dementia in life by nearly five years. Knowing more than one language also improves memory and critical thinking skills.
 In Pardee’s class, Spanish is taught by comparing word structure to English words. Students who can hardly speak a word of Spanish at the beginning of the year are writing essays and carrying on full conversations in Spanish by the end of the year.
 Languages do more than expose students to new words. The culture of Spanish speaking countries is also included in Pardee’s class, further expanding student’s knowledge of the world.
 “When you familiarize yourself with other cultures, languages and countries, you benefit in so many areas,” Pardee said. “As a student, employee and on a personal level, it allows you to become more understanding of the global community.”
 Second language courses are offered at each high school in the tri-county area. Learning another language also reinforces the structure of language, which can help improve understanding of the English language.
 “Students with a second language are ultimately a great benefit to the job market,” Pardee said. “Plus, I feel that learning another language strengthens the understanding of your native language and it is always interesting to learn about different cultures around the world.”
 In case you were wondering, ¿Como te llamas? translates to, “What is your name?”