It’s a cliché but it is true. We all live in a global village and as such we will find ourselves increasingly interacting and perhaps more importantly competing with a wider group of persons. This will not be evident to many at a younger age and so it is up to those with more experience and a wider perspective to ensure that these considerations are integrated into the school curriculum.
Studying a foreign language has benefits far exceeding the ability to converse with foreigners. In fact it has been suggested that very few persons ever bother to go away to study and vacations usually don’t require an in-depth knowledge of a foreign language. It’s interesting to note that in many other parts of the world e.g. Europe, persons not only speak their native language but are very conversant in English. They therefore have little difficulty adapting to and taking advantage of opportunities to study in a foreign country.
Fluency in any foreign language is a potential advantage. However, learning French is of particular importance. One should consider that French is the working language at international organizations like NATO, the United Nations, the International Olympic Committee and the International Red Cross. It is a dominant language at the European Court of Justice and the Press Room at the European Commission in Brussels. Learning French should therefore be seen as an asset. It is the most widely spoken language after English. Also, a significant amount of academic material is written and available only in French. Employees and colleges therefore look very favorably on applicants with this skill. It opens up so much of the world in so many areas from academics to business, that it will naturally be given much weight.
Learning a foreign language also opens up much of the culture to the student. The language introduces aspects of greeting, particular phrases, different foods and other peculiarities. It is so ironic that in a world that is increasingly a global village we remain still highly isolated from each other in these respects. The study of foreign languages is surely a good place to start to try and break down some of these barriers.
A lot of growth is expected in several foreign markets like China and Brazil. Others from outside these countries are going to need to communicate effectively with these businesses and their people in general so as to take advantage of mutual exchanges in this area. If we are aiming to educate our students to compete in the global economy, then speaking a foreign language in this situation will be of paramount importance.