Monday, January 31, 2011

Why should I learn a second language?

From the perspective of a socially conscious individual:

Some may question why it is important to preserve our world’s languages. They may hold the opinion that it would be easier if everyone just spoke the same language such as English. Perhaps they have not considered that when we lose a language we lose:

Cultural heritage - Language is one of the things that defines a culture, both through who speaks it and what it allows speakers to say. Words that describe a particular cultural practice or idea can never be translated exactly into another language. Many endangered languages have rich oral cultures, with stories, songs, and histories passed on to younger generations, but no written form of the language. Without speakers of these languages, an entire culture is lost.

Knowledge about the natural world - Most endangered languages are spoken by indigenous groups that have interacted closely with the natural world for thousands of years. These languages have developed words that hold huge amounts of information about the natural world, with information about species or natural phenomena that has not been recorded by scientists. Learning from these groups may be key to preserving species and ecosystems.

Knowledge about the human brain - Each human language teaches us about how the human brain can work. Without studying each language spoken in the world, we will never understand all the ways humans can communicate and store knowledge. Every time a language dies, we lose part of the picture of what our brains can do.
Why are languages going extinct so rapidly?
Languages are abandoned when speakers come to think of them as socially inferior, tied to the past, traditional/backward, or economically stagnant. The current rapid decline of approximately one every two weeks appears to be unprecedented in human history.

Although the languages being mentioned above are not usually the ones taught in Western schools, one must ask if this trend continues, what that will mean for the longevity of all languages not held in the highest prestige in today's globalizing world.

Personal reasons to learn a second/foreign language:
  • Opens the door to other cultures and helps a child understand and appreciate people from other countries (actfl).
  • Second language education significantly strengthens first language skills in areas of reading, English vocabulary, grammar and communication skills ( Alberta Education).
  • Students fluent in two language score higher in both verbal and non-verbal intelligence (Alberta Education).
  • Increases job opportunities in many careers where knowing another language is a real asset (actfl).

Second Language Prezi Presentation

Here is a copy of our Prezi that includes information on why it is important to take a second language. For further information the blog below also speaks to this topic and includes references for further investigation:

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Justification of Visuals/ Symbols approach

As teachers we believe that it's important to take measures to ensure that you show awareness of the various forms of technology that can be used in order to deliver information to students or colleagues. In presenting our advocacy assignment we decided to use Prezi and the creation of a blog. Prezi is a program which we discovered online that we believed was an effective way to present our information in a diverse way. We found Prezi to be a dynamic way to present our reasons for learning a SL and thought it would be beneficial to others in the class by introducing this new form of visual storytelling that seemed more enjoyable than PowerPoint. Moreover, we also decided to create blogs that contains information about teaching a second language and our personal reasons for learning our languages (German, Japanese and Italian). Blogs are great way to communicate with colleagues, students and other individuals and share ideas regarding the topic of the blog. We strongly believe that teacher collaboration is an important component of being an educator and blogging is also a great way for learners to be active throughout the course.

The visuals and images that were used within our advocacy assignment place emphasis on the importance of learning a second language and the diversity present in our multi-cultural society. The visuals demonstrate students from different cultures coming together and showing appreciation and respect for the different cultures and languages that are present within educational institutions. We decided to choose the symbols as they reinforce the idea of unity amongst different cultures and how the learning of a second language creates many opportunities for learners.

Learning Italian as a SL and its benefits

"Globalization and the multicultural society that we live in has increased the need for knowledge of other languages and cultures for effective communication, better human relations within a diverse Canadian society and for a competitive edge in the shrinking world of economics." (Alberta Program of Studies) As a teacher of a second language I believe it's an important in today's world to know a SL and to recognize and appreciate the differences across the variety of cultures. In addition, through the learning of a SL students are taught to respect and learn about the beliefs and values associated with certain cultures.

The learning of any second language introduces many benefits that give the learner a great advantage in a number of areas. Some of the benefits that present themselves through the learning of an SL are: a better global understanding, economic benefits, an enhancement of cognitive and life skills, opportunity to make travel experiences more enjoyable and further increasing understanding of one's self and own culture. Surely, there are many more advantages to learning a second language which is by individuals should learn a new language. Being a SL teacher I believe that it's an extremely important counterpart that should be given more attention in educational institutions. It provides a number of of benefits for the present and future of students and it is interesting to explore the language and lifestyles of another culture.

Teaching Italian as a SL I believe that learning about the culture and the language is beneficial as it gives students an opportunity to further understand the development of European culture. In addition, "The study of Italian also develops awareness of, and sensitivity to, the cultural and linguistic diversity of Canadian society. The Italian culture consists of a rich history that would be interesting for students to learn about. Furthermore, Italian is beneficial for communication with Italian speakers but it also brings forth the advantage of being able to learn about art, literature, music and the chance to travel the country and learn about the various monuments and attractions. Even if you are a native speaker of Italian it would be great to learn about the Italian culture as allows you to maintain the language skills and cultural connections as well as be subjected to historical information that you may not have known. From my perspective, I believe it's important to have fluency in more than one language, whether it be Italian or not. By investing the time to learn a language and about a culture there is a number of favorable circumstances that are advantageous in the diverse Canadian Society.

Alberta Education, Programs of Study

10 reasons to learning a foreign language