As the Singapore education system changes to emphasise a more holistic exposure to foreign languages, it is important to understand the underlying structures of language that can help students learn effectively.
One of the most practical ways to make use of your spare time nowadays is to start learning a new skill. Learning a foreign language opens professional and geographic doors for Singaporeans. We live in a multilingual world, where connections are now more important than ever. The world is becoming increasingly globalized and knowing a second language can always give you an unfair advantage.
Language skills can be a significant competitive advantage that sets you apart from your monolingual peers. They are among the top eight skills required of all occupations—no matter your sector or skill level—and the demand for bilingual professionals is rising exponentially. Living in an interconnected world means that more and more jobs are advertising positions where knowing more than one language is essential.
Not in the workforce yet? Foreign languages are always a plus in your skill set. If not for professional uses, it might be that you would like to enter University in a foreign country and thus need certain qualifications.
Lack of integration is a real problem for most countries. More often than not, this is due to the language barrier. People outside of their home countries end up being isolated, hanging out only with people from similar communities where their language is spoken.
It grows your child’s brain
Studies have shown that people who are multi-lingual are better at multi-tasking and attention focusing than monolinguals. Scans have shown that these childrens’ brains have more gray matter in the regions that are involved in executive function. The hypothesis is that the effort to constantly choose the right language at the right time provides a “mental gymnastics” for multi-linguals which gives them extra practice in focusing their attention.
These benefits show up early – new research shows that even babies less than a year old who are exposed to multiple languages show different cognitive patterns in their brain compared to monolinguals. In fact, some researchers argue that the best way to have smarter kids is to expose them to multiple languages when they are young.
Foreign language study is all about learning how to truly communicate and connect with others—an incredibly important life skill that can only be cultivated by interacting with people. When you master a foreign language, you can exercise your new superhuman power of being able to understand what someone is saying, recall the proper vocab and grammar, put that vocab and grammar into the proper context, and reply back—all on the spot and in a timely manner. You’ve connected. And that is what it’s all about.
When travel opens up again, the mad rush to travel will resume. Long hours of travel, unfamiliar cultures and practices, and not to mention, the struggle to communicate basic questions. While this can all be an exciting adventure, it would also go much smoother if you knew key phrases or had a simple understanding of the language.
Oh, and lets not forget food. When you learn a foreign language, you don’t need to frantically search TripAdvisor just to find local grub. You can ask around for yourself. This valuable intel will usually lead you to far tastier and cheaper fare than any tourism board or guidebook ever could.
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. Learning a foreign language and getting soaked into an entirely new culture and worldview is the surest way to enhance your own freedom and expression of choice. Once you are aware of the fact that we are all cultural beings, products of our own environments, and that you recognize the cultural base for your own attitudes and behaviour, you are ready to consider others in a more favourable light. Seeing the world from a different perspective, and understanding where you and others come from, is a fantastic, eye-opening experience.
Learning a foreign language can actually pull a sort of reverse psychology on you and provide you with a better understanding of your own native tongue and culture. This is one of the most unexpected advantages of learning a foreign language. You will become much more conscious of not only cultural customs, but of the grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation patterns of your first language. This likely explains the improvements in listening, reading, and writing skills that foreign language imparts.
At the Agape School of Education (ASOE), we understand the differences between acquiring and learning a language. That is why we use custom educational materials, tailored structures and hire tutors who understand and appreciate this difference. Our students don’t just top their exams. We teach them to love the language. That’s the ASOE difference.