Teaching a Foreign Language

Why teach students another language at the elementary level?

Learning a Foreign Language Broadens Learning

There are many benefits to learning a foreign language at the elementary level. Incorporating a FLES program into the curriculum not only promotes learning about a new language and culture, but allows for cognitive development, as well.

The Importance of FLES

Getting down to business, children are eager to learn. Dr. Susan Curtiss, a professor at UCLA states that, "The power to learn language is so great in...young child[ren]" (Curtain & Dahlberg). The National Commission on Excellence in Education also believes that the "study of a foreign language introduces students to non-English-speaking cultures, heightens awareness and comprehension of one's native tongue, and serves the nation's needs in commerce, diplomacy, defense and education." All in all, grades K-8 need to have a foreign language program for the betterment of the students. Learning a foreign language expands knowledge in all realms from cognitive development, to communication, to cultural enrichment.

Paulo Freire's Take on Foreign Language

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Paulo Freire was a fierce believer of “sharing knowledge and life experiences” as well as “the raising of political and social consciousness (conscientization)” (Graceffo). Incorporating foreign language at the elementary level allows children to start becoming aware of their surroundings, and provides international knowledge and skills within the classroom. Learning about a world outside of theirs encourages children to learn about different cultures, histories, and civilization.


The National Standards for Foreign Language Education offers their own beliefs about students learning a foreign language in a "pluralistic world."

Scotland's View on Foreign Language

The Scottish Government is implementing foreign language programs in their schooling, as well. Children in their primary schooling are learning at least one-two foreign languages in order to prepare themselves for the multi-lingual world.

Security within Our Country

According to the National Research Council, Center for Education, "A Pervasive lack of knowledge about foreign cultures and foreign languages threatens the security of the United States as well as its ability to compete in the global marketplace." Considering economics and global security, implementing a language program prepares children for the diplomatic world, as well as enhances their listening abilities. Learning another language in school enriches the mind and promotes international awareness (National Research Council, Center for Education).

Paulo Freire:

...because we are "programmed to learn," we live, or experience, or we find ourselves open to experience the relationship between what we inherit and what we acquire. We become genetic-cultural beings. We are not only nature, nor are we only culture, education, and thinking (Lyons).

Works Cited

Curtain, Helena, and Carol Ann Dahlberg. Languages and Children. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2010. Print.

Graceffo, Mark. “Literacy to liberate: a bibliography of Freirean pedagogy.” Scholarly Journals 2001: 113-118. Proquest Research Library. Web. 28 Jan. 2013.

Lyons, John. “Paulo Freire’s Educational Theory.” 18 Jul. 2011: np. New Foundations. Web. 26 Jan. 2013.

“National Standards for Foreign Language Education.” American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. ACTFL, n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2013.

“School pupils could be taught a second language from a primary one.” STv. STV Productions, 2013. Web. 26 Jan. 2013.

The Connecticut State Department of Education. The Benefits of Second Language Study. Dec. 2007. PDF File.