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Student Opinion

How Important Is Knowing a Foreign Language?

learning a foreign language is very useful essay

By Jeremy Engle

  • March 29, 2019

Have you ever studied a foreign language ? Do you think it’s still necessary to do so?

Isn’t it easy to find people who speak English in other countries if you really need to communicate with someone? And aren’t there translation apps for your phone you can download anyway?

What is the value of knowing more than one language in the 21st century? Is it really worth the time, effort and investment?

In “ Do You Speak My Language? You Should ,” Bénédicte de Montlaur writes:

In January, the Modern Language Association made an astonishing announcement in The Chronicle of Higher Education: From 2013 to 2016, colleges across the United States cut 651 foreign language programs . French was the hardest hit, losing 129 programs, followed by Spanish with 118, German with 86 and Italian with 56. Once these programs close, they are very hard to reopen. According to a Pew study from last year , only 20 percent of K-12 students in America study a foreign language (compared with an average of 92 percent in Europe), and only 10 states and the District of Columbia make foreign-language learning a high school graduation requirement. The decline in language education could have devastating effects for generations to come. With fewer options for learning a foreign language in school, a sharp decrease in interest is likely to follow. According to the Modern Language Association, enrollment in college-level foreign-language courses dropped 9.2 percent from 2013 to 2016. The association says these changes are most likely a direct result of the 2008 recession, which hit foreign-language degree programs harder than many other humanities programs. As programs shrink so does the supply of qualified teachers . It’s a vicious cycle. And yet, knowing a foreign language is becoming ever more essential. The freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is Spanish-English bilingual, recently tweeted , “Bilingualism is a huge advantage in the economy and the world.” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, who at age 29 is already one of the best-known members of the Democratic Party, is a case in point. Her sentiment is shared by many. In response, some educators and parents are rethinking the way language is taught and calling for expanded access to language education. Nationwide, parents and teachers have been leading grass-roots initiatives to provide foreign-language learning in public schools, and some universities have instituted innovative language programs. From pre-K to graduate studies, there is a move toward holistic language education, based on the notion that learning a language should be grounded in the real, everyday use of that language.

The article concludes:

If Americans want the next generation to be active participants in a multilingual world, dual-language and multicultural education is crucial. Government spending on foreign-language education and the education of qualified foreign-language teachers needs to increase. More states need to enforce language-education requirements. Colleges need to recognize the importance of their foreign-language education programs. In turn, more parents, students and teachers need to lobby for language programs. The necessity of foreign-language education could not be clearer right now. The future in America, and everywhere, is multilingual. And so is the present.

Students, read the entire article, then tell us:

— How important is knowing a foreign language?

— What languages can you speak, read or understand? If you know more than one language, how did you learn these additional languages? Was it hard? Fun? How has knowing another language affected and benefited your life?

— If you speak only one language, have you ever wanted or tried to learn a new one? What challenges did you face in acquiring a new language?

— How persuasive is Ms. de Montlaur’s argument that Americans need to study a foreign language? Do you agree with her that the future is multilingual? Should schools require that students learn a second language?

— If you were to study a new language, what would it be and why?

— How much is foreign-language education emphasized at your school? What would you recommend to improve the foreign-language program at your school?

Students 13 and older are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.

Benefits of Knowing a Foreign Language

There are numerous advantages of learning a foreign language. Essay sample is focused on social, health, and other foreign language benefits, as well as reasons to learn another language.

Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language Essay Introduction

Benefits of learning a second language essay body, benefits of learning foreign language essay conclusion, works cited.

Why are foreign languages in demand and popularity? Not everyone probably thinks about it until they face a particular situation. Let us consider several reasons for bilingualism, such as advantages in career, travel, unlimited communication, cultural content, and the fact that knowing at least one foreign language makes the person smarter.

The first cause of foreign language usefulness is professional opportunities. You need to know a foreign language to increase your employability, work in a prestigious fast-growing company, and get the appropriate payment. It also applies to study and internships in foreign countries because plenty of companies are trying to learn from the experience of their foreign colleagues. In the case you know the foreign language, you can help in the translation of texts, preparation of documents, or during negotiations with foreign partners. Besides, you can learn some interesting and helpful information by reading foreign professional literature.

The second reason concerns traveling. Knowing the foreign language, you will be happy to listen to guided tours in original, chat with people with great ease and pleasure, and, who knows, maybe the foreign language you can speak will save the life of someone. Traveling around the world, you can always find your way, talk to the locals, learn about their lives and culture, and perhaps, receive a useful lesson (“Ten Amazing Reasons Why You Should Learn a Foreign Language,” par. 8). In other words, knowing the foreign language allows penetrating the traditions of the other culture.

The third reason in favor of knowledge of a foreign language is communication. Usually, to learn a foreign language well enough, it is necessary to plunge into the environment of living in that particular culture. In turn, such a dive does not pass entirely but forms certain personal qualities. For example, some studies have shown that people, who know more than one language, expand their horizons and are more likely to empathize taking the first steps in communication. Communication in a foreign language with native speakers will significantly strengthen your communication skills and develop life-long friendships (“Ten Amazing Reasons Why You Should Learn a Foreign Language,” par. 14).

Moreover, a foreign language helps you to enrich yourself culturally by watching movies in their original, listening to the voice and intonations of actors, and avoiding translators. You can listen to your favorite songs of foreign singers and understand their meaning with great pleasure. Despite the considerable amount of translated literature, the knowledge of a foreign language opens the door to the world of original literature. It is also essential to point out that by learning a foreign language, you can improve your native language as well. When people start to talk in a foreign language, which has its grammar, logic, and exceptions, they choose words and phrases in the native language to translate, which helps to increase the speech culture and vocabulary of the native language.

Besides, if you are interested in the events taking place in the world, the knowledge of the foreign language would be your advantage. You can easily understand the news as many world newspapers and Internet posts are published in a foreign language. Consequently, you will be able to understand the meaning of the above, taking into account all the details. It is much more objective than hearing a translation, where a lot can be unsaid or translated inappropriately. Thus, knowledge of a foreign language provides access to information, while it is commonly considered that he who owns the information – owns the world.

Finally, the last but not the least reason is probably, the most important. Knowledge of a foreign language expands consciousness. According to Merritt, “speaking a foreign language improves the functionality of your brain by challenging it to recognize, negotiate meaning, and communicate in different language systems” (par. 3). Your mind will be reconstructed to understand completely new concepts. In this sense, learning foreign languages is highly efficient due to switching codes. Switching from one language to another is a challenging job for the brain that is undoubtedly useful. Several studies have shown that among patients with dementia, symptoms began four years later in people who know two languages than in people who know one language (Merritt par. 6). In other words, the brain of bilinguals was struck but continued to operate at a higher level for a longer time.

In conclusion, I would like to emphasize that people are blacksmiths of their happiness, and a lot in life depends on them. Knowledge of foreign languages gives people plenty of advantages. It is the opportunity to travel around the world without an interpreter, to read foreign literature, to watch foreign films in the original, and to have friends from different countries. If you are willing to change something in your life for the better, then learn a foreign language, and maybe somewhere, there is a pleasant surprise waiting for you, such as an exciting journey or attractive employment.

Merritt, Anne. “ Why Learn a Foreign Language? Benefits of Bilingualism. ” The Telegraph . Telegraph Media Group, 2013.

“Ten Amazing Reasons Why You Should Learn a Foreign Language.” Lingholic . n.p., 2014.

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12 Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language

In today’s hyper-connected, fast-paced world, there are  many reasons to learn another language.

Perhaps you’re one of the lucky ones who grew up speaking two languages as a native bilingual. If so, you have some unique advantages compared to the rest of us.

However, if you’re looking to become bilingual, you’ve got good things going for you too.

Below are 12 awesome side effects of becoming bilingual — or multilingual !

Why Learn a Second Language?

1. you can talk with more people., 2. it’s a major advantage in the workforce., 3. traveling is easier and more fulfilling., 4. you gain cultural knowledge and perspective., 5. you have access to more information and entertainment., 6. it improves your communication skills., 7. it makes other languages easier too., 8. you can help more people., 9. it improves a ton of cognitive functions., 10. it delays the effects of aging., 11. it boosts your creativity., 12. your self-confidence will soar., which language should i learn, how do i get started.

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

people using a second language to talk

What’s the fastest way to make 1.2 billion friends?

Learn Chinese !

But seriously—learning another language gives you uncountable opportunities to meet and connect with others due to the simple fact that you can talk to more people.

Of course, learning another language allows you to meet people who already speak that language, too.  For one, you can connect with fellow language learners .  Another way is to find a language exchange partner .

Or chat with your taxi driver. Make small talk with the store clerk. Get to know the man who sits next to you on a long bus ride.

These people might have the potential to become your new business partner, best friend or soul mate. That’s pretty thrilling!

You don’t even need to be fluent to get started.

When I traveled around Myanmar, I spent a couple weeks in a city called Yangon. I only knew the basics of the Burmese language, but I was determined to practice those few phrases at every opportunity.

One street vendor was so taken with my efforts that he spent 30 minutes trying to communicate with me about his family, work and life philosophy. Not only did I leave that conversation with new language skills, but also with a free bag of food and a hug!

But the conversations are just the beginning.

Communicating in someone’s native language  also shows respect, and it allows you to connect on a deeper level. You might be surprised how open people are when you speak their mother tongue.

diverse employees giving a presentation

Adding a second (or third, or fourth) language to your CV gives you an unparalleled advantage in today’s global economy.

More and more employers are looking for people who speak multiple languages . This is especially true for fields like customer service, hospitality, health care, information technology and administrative work.

Multilingual people can communicate and interact with diverse communities. This is a valuable asset in an employee’s skill set.

You definitely up your professional value if you can negotiate with manufacturers in another country or communicate with customers who don’t speak your native language.

Plus, fluency in a foreign language opens up opportunities abroad which simply are not available to monolingual job hunters.

Your ability to speak another language also conveys that you’re motivated and driven to learn new skills.

It’s possible that you could be compensated for maintaining your language skills through foreign proficiency bonus pay, too—take the US military for example.

Which language is best? Try learning Spanish, Arabic or Mandarin Chinese to give yourself an edge !

lady ordering food in japan

Traveling—whether for business, vacation or visiting family or friends—is much easier if you speak the language of your destination:

  • Restaurants. Most non-speaking travelers resort to the “point and hope” method of ordering food. But when you know the local language, you can order specific foods you know you like or want to try. 
  • Transportation. If you’re in a big city, you might hear some English translations. But the farther away you get from the capital, the less likely you are to hear any familiar words. Where you are, where you’re going and how you get there is all going to be communicated in the country’s native language.
  • Signs.  If every sign you see is just random squiggles, there are bound to be problems. Where’s the bathroom? Which way is the subway? What’s the name of this road? Which side of the road should I be driving on? Signs are everywhere, and they’re often important.
  • Avoid miscommunication.  Most visitors who don’t speak the language struggle to communicate even the simplest things to locals. Suddenly, trying to buy a shirt or deposit money at the bank becomes lost in translation.

Language helps you understand the world.

Learning another language isn’t just about words and grammar. Knowledge of the society and culture behind that language is necessary to achieve any degree of fluency.  The history and  culture  of a people are reflected in the language,  and vice versa.

It’s important to remember that languages aren’t simply different sets of words to express the same ideas—they’re entirely different outlooks on the world.

Linguistic relativity  is the concept that  language dramatically shapes the way we think about, perceive and interact with the world around us.  Most people who speak multiple languages will tell you there’s a profound spiritual and emotional element to it.

Allow this to open you up to the world, broaden your horizons and bring you closer to people of all races and nationalities.

You may develop a deep appreciation for another culture, fall in love with a native speaker or become unlikely friends with someone totally different from you.

boy reading book with flashlight

Perhaps the most fun perk to learning another language is consuming native media .

You’ll have access to a whole new selection of music, movies, TV shows, books, news programs, podcasts, websites and more.

Of course, it takes time and effort to reach a level where this is comfortable. But there’s plenty of multilingual content to get you started!

For example, people who speak Spanish and English can understand every word of the songs of Enrique Iglesias, Shakira, Pitbull and other internationally-successful Latin pop stars.

Japanese and English speakers hold claim to some mind-blowing “Kill Bill” scenes and the cultural miscommunication in “Lost in Translation.”

It may take a while, but try not to get frustrated on your path to understanding— consistency is key.

One day you’ll be reading or listening to something in your target language and suddenly realize that you understood it with no extra effort at all.

Of course, learning a second language improves your listening and speaking skills.

You’ll learn to listen more effectively and to be as clear as possible when you’re talking. The ability to clarify intended meanings will benefit you in any situation and any tongue.

You’ll likely gain reading and writing skills as well. You’ll think more carefully about the words you use and the meaning you’re expressing in your non-native language.

In fact, your acquired language literally helps you think more logically, process information and speak more evenly .

Learning another language will also make you more adept at piecing together information and interpreting context, whether it’s an unclear situation or cross-cultural communication.

The ability to look at things from various angles and understand someone else’s perspective means you’ll be able to communicate more respectfully and more effectively in any language.

world flags

Learning your first language happens naturally through observation, so many people don’t explicitly know the underlying rules or logic of it.

To learn a second language, though, you pretty much have to learn the rules .

Many people who learn another language discover that they also gain unanticipated benefits in their first language, like becoming more conscious of and knowledgeable about their native grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation.

If you learn another Indo-European language (such as French ) as a native English speaker, you’ll likely discover significant amounts of borrowed vocabulary, which will help you better understand how English became English .

What’s more, the acquisition techniques you use to learn your second language can be applied to subsequent languages too.

Learning a language trains your brain to analyze and process various linguistic structures. Your brain learns to identify language-learning techniques and break them into steps—and will do the same with other foreign languages!

So, studying your second language increases your ability to replicate this “metalinguistic awareness” process later. Your brain’s increased knowledge of syntax, grammar and sentence structure will give you a head start on learning your third language.

Studying a foreign language doesn’t have to be all about you!

Perhaps it’s obvious, but speaking another language allows you to help more people.

For example, if you’re a certified teacher with multilingual abilities, consider using your unique language skills to teach others. You could help out refugees in your home country, tutor students while living abroad or simply teach your friends and family the language(s) you speak.

If you can’t or don’t want to teach, there’s volunteer programs around the world where multilingual speakers are a particularly valuable asset to the team. Medical assistance programs, educational consultancies and cultural events are good places to find volunteer opportunities.

Being the bridge of communication between cultures is a great feeling, and the joy you’ll get from helping someone in need will make all the hard work of learning the language worth it.

Learning another language makes you smarter—and not just because you’ll know more words and grammar structures.

Acquiring a second language improves memory, increases attention span and strengthens problem-solving abilities.

Check out this video by the British Broadcasting Corporation that breaks down the advantages of learning new languages.

In fact, studies have shown that multilingual people:

  • are more logical
  • use more of their brains
  • have better working memories
  • can switch between tasks more quickly
  • have greater self-control
  • are more focused
  • make better financial decisions

All of these executive function benefits are likely the result of the bilingual brain’s constant need to choose the correct language and words to speak at any given moment, as well as its ability to detect which language it’s hearing.

Of course, the younger you are when you begin learning a second language, the easier it will be and the quicker you’ll see the effects. And for children especially, learning another language can help build social, cognitive and emotional intelligence,  as well as lead to higher standardized test scores .

Learning a foreign language may also teach children to be more culturally accepting—just as it helps adults broaden their perspective and cultural knowledge.

Further, not only do these advantages make it easier to learn more languages, as mentioned above, they make it easier to learn anything .

It’s thought that all this is because learning languages helps your brain exercise, sort of like how bodybuilders grow and tone their muscles . And who wouldn’t love to be strong?

If picking up a language as an adult looks good, doing it as a senior is even more impressive!

Having multiple languages under your belt as you age can also have major advantages.

In particular, research has shown that knowing more than one language can potentially reduce the risk of dementia and delay Alzheimer’s Disease.

Regardless of education level, gender or occupation, multilingual subjects in this study experienced the onset of Alzheimer’s about four and a half years later than monolingual subjects.

Study results also show that speaking more than one language increases the amount of neural pathways in the brain.

This allows information to be processed through a greater variety of channels and can keep your brain sharp as you age.

woman holding a pencil and a notebook

Anyone learning a language has experienced moments of serious linguistic problem solving.

You know what you want to say, but not in the language you’re currently speaking. You can’t move forward without the word, so you have to get creative.

Using your second language requires you to learn how to give clues, context, explanations and/or gestures to get your point across. It improves your skills in divergent thinking—the ability to identify multiple solutions to a single problem.

Because, on top of your limited language and mental roadblocks, you usually need to consider different linguistic and cultural nuances too.

All of this helps you think outside the box.

As a matter of fact, researchers are also concluding that multilingual speakers are more creative than monolingual speakers. This is likely because learning a foreign language gives you leeway to experiment with new words and phrases.

So, every time you stumble over those words and phrases, remember that you’re actually training your brain and developing skills that benefit every aspect of your life.

Confidence increases as you learn a new skill—like speaking a foreign language!

Some of this may come from learning something you enjoy, but language instruction also relies heavily on social interaction. Conversations with native speakers are essential to mastering your target language.

At first, speaking can definitely cause some anxiety . But don’t be afraid to let your conversation partners know that you want to practice. It’s a great way to break the ice and start making new friends.

Because English is such a global language, native English speakers who make the effort to learn a foreign tongue are often received with gratitude and curiosity. You might be surprised how many people will want to help you practice!

And remember that practice itself can be a confidence builder.

As you learn and get better at the language, you’ll find that you have increased self-awareness and more confidence wielding your second language… which can also make you more attractive to others!

Truly, people will respect the fact that you’re learning another language. Native speakers will be impressed with your dedication, friends and family will be proud of your motivation and strangers will be interested in your story.

So get learning and build up that confidence!

While there’s advantages for learning any language, some are inevitably more useful than others .

You can check out this post for a more detailed guide to answering this question, but if you’re really not sure where to start, check out the benefits of the languages below to see if any strike your fancy:

  • Spanish : As one of the most widely-spoken languages in the world, Spanish comes with plenty of benefits.
  • French : Learning French has many pros—like becoming fluent in the language of romance.
  • German : If you’re interested in central Europe at all, German is a great way to get familiar with the area and culture.
  • Japanese : Learning Japanese is likely an opportunity to discover a completely different culture and way of thinking.

Gone are the days when the only way to learn a second language was becoming stranded in a foreign country or going back to high school language classes.

These days, there are many ways to learn online to become proficient in the language of your choice.

For example, maybe you plan to study on your own . Set yourself up for success by setting goals, being consistent and making sure you get lots of language input.

Depending on the language you choose, you may need to learn a new alphabet system . You’ll definitely need to learn a lot of vocab .

Just because you have to learn grammar doesn’t mean you can’t have fun though! You can absolutely make your studying as enjoyable as possible — try watching movies , for example!

If you don’t feel ready to watch full-length movies in your target language, don’t worry. Try shorter ones first, like Disney movies dubbed in your preferred language.

You can also prepare with FluentU.

FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons .

With FluentU, you hear languages in real-world contexts —the way that native speakers actually use them. Just a quick look will give you an idea of the variety of FluentU videos on offer:

learn-a-language-with-videos

FluentU really takes the grunt work out of learning languages, leaving you with nothing but engaging, effective and efficient learning. It’s already hand-picked the best videos for you and organized them by level and topic. All you have to do is choose any video that strikes your fancy to get started!

learn-a-language-with-music

Access a complete interactive transcript of every video under the Dialogue tab, and easily review words and phrases from the video under Vocab.

You can use FluentU’s unique adaptive quizzes to learn the vocabulary and phrases from the video through fun questions and exercises. Just swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you're studying.

learn-a-language-with-adaptive-quizzes

The program even keeps track of what you’re learning and tells you exactly when it’s time for review, giving you a 100% personalized experience.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

Obviously, there’s many benefits of learning a second language. So no matter which tools you use to learn it, you won’t regret doing it!

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learning a foreign language is very useful essay

Learning Foreign Languages: What Are the Benefits? Essay

Have you ever wondered why some people have certain flexibility of mind? They can see problems from various standpoints, understand many views on a matter, and can find a suitable solution to a problem relatively easily. Good command of a foreign language is the major contributor to the person’s flexibility of mind, memory capacity, and ability to adapt to ever-changing circumstances.

While it is true that there are numerous study areas for a student to become proficient in, having a good command of a foreign language enhances the overall learning capacity and may even improve your health.

  • Studying any foreign language improves your memory and can even prevent a possible onset of Alzheimer’s disease (Jha par. 2).
  • Studying a foreign language improves your ability to understand complex concepts and ideas in other fields of study (Bialystok and Martin 1).
  • Studies have shown that learning foreign languages modifies the gray matter, responsible for processing the information in the brain (“Learning Languages ‘Boosts Brain’” par. 3).
  • People with a good command of a foreign language can manage their daily schedules more effectively and even make smarter financial decisions (Woodruff par. 1).

(Speaking a foreign language not only improves your overall learning capacity but is also an asset to your professional resume.)

Learning a foreign language enhances your career prospects, including potentially higher salary (“What Is a Foreign Language Worth?” par. 9).

  • Speaking at least one foreign language gives you a competitive edge in comparison with other candidates for the job position you choose.
  • Speaking a foreign language improves your decision-making process (Caldwell-Harris par. 2), thereby enhancing your ability to reach a compromise in difficult situations.
  • It can boost your confidence regarding your professional performance.
  • It can improve your teamwork skills, which is extremely useful in a work setting in your future career.
  • Being proficient in a foreign language may result in getting an internship position abroad, which will improve your professional competence.

(However, the advantages of learning a foreign language are not at all limited to the areas of your life involving work and studies. A foreign language opens up a whole new world of experience, the most exciting of which is traveling.)

Speaking a foreign language gives you an opportunity to discover foreign cultures while traveling.

  • Speaking the local language when traveling is a unique opportunity to learn about a particular foreign culture in a profound way.
  • By communicating with locals in their language, you can gain insights into their thinking patterns and mentality.
  • The local people will appreciate your efforts, whether you speak fluently, or not.
  • By befriending the locals, you will gain an opportunity to witness their culture on the inside, as they might invite you to spend some time in their home.
  • By learning about another nation’s mentality, you have an opportunity to find out new ways of looking at familiar things, shift your perspective, and broaden your horizon. (Speaking the local language has many practical advantages. It can come in handy when buying souvenirs and other products at the local market.)
  • By haggling in the local language, you gain the vendor’s respect and save money you would normally spend by paying the “sticker” price. (Finally, being proficient in a foreign language is an advantage in almost every area of your professional activities, studies, and leisure. This skill will enrich your life from many perspectives.)

Having a good command of a foreign language can enrich your personality and lead to many exciting and pleasant experiences.

  • Speaking a foreign language makes you a well-rounded person who can share interesting insights into the mentality and culture of another nation.
  • Thanks to this skill, you will be seen as a far more interesting and extraordinary person, which will, in turn, boost your confidence and self-esteem.
  • Learning about foreign traditions and customs allows you to make comparisons with your own cultural background.
  • These comparisons help better understand your culture.
  • Moreover, it helps you see the influence of other cultures on the one of your own and understand the underlying reasons for the particular beliefs and values.
  • By learning more about a foreign culture and the culture of your own, you will feel like a citizen of the world and a part of the global fabric of cross-cultural experience.
  • The ability to speak a foreign language will not only make you an attractive employee but also more appealing to the opposite sex.

As you can see, learning a foreign language has multiple advantages. It improves your learning capacity, preserves your health, enhances your career prospects, enriches your traveling experience, and makes you a well-rounded and interesting person to encounter. Overall, these innumerable benefits outweigh the difficulties that we might have while studying the language. Isn’t it truly worth the effort?

Works Cited

Bialystok, Ellen and Michelle M. Martin. “Attention and Inhibition in Bilingual Children: Evidence from the Dimensional Change Card Sort Task.” Developmental science 7.3 (2004): 325-339. Print.

Caldwell-Harris, Catherine. How Knowing a Foreign Language Can Improve Your Decisions . 2012. Web.

Jha, Alok. Being Bilingual May Delay Alzheimer’s and Boost Brain Power . 2011. Web.

Learning Languages ‘Boosts Brain’ 2004. Web.

What Is a Foreign Language Worth? 2014. Web.

Woodruff, Mandi. Here’s Why Bilingual People Make Better Financial Choices . 2012. Web.

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IvyPanda. (2021, April 8). Learning Foreign Languages: What Are the Benefits? https://ivypanda.com/essays/learning-foreign-languages-what-are-the-benefits/

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Student Essay: The Value of Foreign Languages

learning a foreign language is very useful essay

One of the most practical ways to make use of your spare time nowadays is to start learning a new skill. 

People who always succeed are those who are keen to learn something new every day - be it learning about other cultures or learning a second language.

At Middlebury Language Schools, we are strong advocates for the importance of mastering a second language. Both personally and professionally, being bilingual can bring you several advantages.

In this article, we will break down some of the benefits of learning a second language and why this skill is one of the most overlooked skills in the world.

LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE !

Why is it important to know more than one language

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.

There are tangible benefits to being bilingual:

  • It can help you in your career;
  • It can improve your memory and brain functions;
  • It can help increase your understanding of the languages you already speak.

A second language can drastically change your career. Living in an interconnected world means that more and more jobs are advertising positions where knowing more than one language is essential. 

As more companies trade internationally and create relationships with other countries, employees are often asked to travel for work, enhance these relationships, or be relocated abroad. 

Besides having more chances of landing a good job or advancing in your career, learning a second language can also give you an insight into other cultures. You will be more prepared and confident to travel the world and explore other people’s ways of living.

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. 

Learning a second language opens up the opportunity for being part of a community with a different culture, and learning more about the world around us. 

Did you know that being bilingual can also help you master your own language? For example, learning a new language with similar roots can help you learn other languages as well. Take Spanish , Italian , and French from one summer to the next!

LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR LANGUAGE PROGRAMS !

What are the benefits of learning a second language

As mentioned before, learning a new language is a wonderful benefit in a globalized world. Let’s have a look at some of the benefits of learning a second language.

1. It improves your memory

The more you use your brain to learn new skills, the more your brain’s functions work. Learning a new language pushes your brain to get familiar with new grammar and vocabulary rules. It allows you to train your memory to remember new words, make connections between them, and use them in contextual situations.

2. Enhances your ability to multitask

Time management and multitasking are two skills that will always help you. Multilingual people have the ability to switch between languages. Their ability to think in different languages and be able to communicate in more than one language helps with multitasking.

3. Improves your performance in other academic areas 

Fully immersing yourself in a language learning environment means not only learning the basics of that language. It means learning how to communicate in another language with your peers or participating in extracurricular activities in that specific language. 

Take2

What languages are the most useful to learn? Middlebury Language Schools recommends 3 of our 13 languages

Since 1915, Middlebury Language Schools has been one of the nation’s preeminent language learning programs. 

Whether you’re a beginning language learner or working toward an advanced degree, our time-tested programs offer a range of options and opportunities.

Taking the Language Pledge at Middlebury Language Schools means committing to communicate only in the language of your choice for the duration of the program. You will live, play, and learn in a 24/7 environment. 

We offer a wide range of languages you can choose from. Here are just a few of the languages we offer.

Due to many geopolitical reasons, the Russian language is not very closely related to English. It is a very challenging language to learn, with complex grammar and syntax rules. However, it is an extremely culturally and politically relevant language. 

At the School of Russian , you can experience the most effective method for rapid language acquisition. An immersion environment is a promise that you will read, write, speak, and listen only in Russian throughout the duration of the program. Some of the benefits of learning Russian at Middlebury Language Schools include interpreting poetry, learning about the culture, and mastering the Russian etiquette.

LEARN RUSSIAN !

Arabic has been one of our most popular languages. It is a high demand language because it can get you ahead in a government career, but also give you endless opportunities in business and international relations. 

Arabic is spoken by more than 300 million people and is one of the top 5 most spoken languages in the world. Learning Arabic as a second language can help you learn about the Arabic culture and religion. It not only gives you opportunities to expand your connections, but also offers great travel opportunities. 

A summer at the Arabic School will help you experience the immersive environment on campus. At Middlebury Language Schools, the focus is on Modern Standard Arabic, with optional Arabic language classes in dialects such as Egyptian, Syrian and Moroccan.

Check out our Arabic graduate programs and Arabic 8-week immersion program for more information.

LEARN ARABIC !

A lot of people agree that Spanish is one of the easiest languages to learn, due to the fact that you read words as they are written. Spanish is the most spoken language in the world after English and is used by more than 400 million people. 

Spanish skills can be a strong asset for communicating and creating relationships not only in Spain, but also in Latin America. 

At the Middlebury School of Spanish , you can engage your mind with topics of interest, from Spanish history to arts and cooking. 

Ready to learn Spanish? Check out Middlebury Language Schools’ 7-week immersion program or the graduate programs .

LEARN SPANISH !

Reminders on why you should learn a second language now

We have broken down the benefits of learning a second language and becoming bilingual in a highly globalized world. 

The truth is, learning new skills every day enhances all aspects of your life. By learning new skills, you can increase your career opportunities, find out more about the world around you, and be a better person overall.

We highly encourage you to start learning a new language as early in your life as possible. However, you are never too old to learn! The world moves fast, and we must keep up with the changes - by developing new skills, learning more about ourselves, and also, learning a new language!

ENROLL NOW !

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Why is it Important to Learn a Foreign Language?

Kendall Dick

Kendall is a travel junkie, sustainability activist, nutrition guru, personal chef, writer, ...

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The advantages of learning foreign languages are mushrooming as the world becomes increasingly globalized and bilingualism is now perhaps the most useful real world skill to ever exist, rather than just being a nifty party trick. If you’re thinking about making the effort to learn a foreign language rather than expecting the world to accommodate your monolingualism, you are a rare breed indeed. Blossoming into the impressive polyglot you aspire to be is 100% feasible with the right approach and mindset.

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.

man and woman chatting

How are you going to make friends if you don’t know how to talk about memes in Spanish?

Why learn a foreign language?

So, why is it important to learn a foreign language? Basically, the advantages of learning foreign languages have the ability to set you up for success in nearly every aspect of your life (NBD). Check out these seven reasons to study a foreign language:

1. Learning a foreign language is sexy

With its warmth and voluptuous sounds, hearing someone speaking a foreign language is like the sound of gold coming to embrace you. Speaking a foreign language is incredibly sexy and it can make you more attractive, interesting, and gives you an air of intelligence. A lot of people find a certain language or accent to be really sexy—think Penélope Cruz’s Spanish or Monica Bellucci’s Italian—you get the picture. 

Learn a foreign language and you might just have that certain someone hypnotized and drawn to your exotic prowess. Some of the more romantic languages like, Spanish, the language of undying love containing rhythm that can make any person swoon , or suave French that is soft as silk and feels as warm as a lover’s stroke, and Italian that massages your ears into ecstasy. But really, the rich textures of almost any foreign language can be incredibly sexy.

[ Get matched with foreign language study abroad programs ] 

graffiti that reads jexiste

You’ll gain a new appreciation for the hidden (or not-so-hidden) words around you.

2. Travel becomes cheaper and easier when you learn a foreign language

It’s 10 p.m. You just got off a 14-hour flight and all you want to do is fall face-first into your pillow. If you are solely armed with a smattering of navigational terms in the local language, finding your place to crash could turn into a painfully slow process. Without the right lingo, you are limited to expensive or slower options. So you save yourself some time, money, and grief when you learn a foreign language. Just as a few key phrases will make transportation that much faster and cheaper, and the same is true for choosing a place to stay. This means lower rates and a better (even more authentic) experience. 

Oh, and the food. When you learn a foreign language, you don’t need to be Anthony Bourdain to find the best 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.

[ Get a discount on language classes with Lingoda ]

3. learning a foreign language opens up a world of job opportunities.

It’s no secret that learning a foreign language can improve your employment prospects. More companies than ever are doing business in several—often dozens of—countries around the world, but they can’t do it without hiring people who have a grasp on at least one foreign language. Even in small, local companies, chances are that the ability to speak a second language will set you apart from other applicants. And in an increasingly competitive job market, why not give yourself every possible edge? 

But, it’s not just about padding your resume. With globalization in full swing, there’s a good chance you’ll be working with people whose first language isn’t English. Maybe it’s a development team in India, or a manufacturing plant in China, or an alternative energy supplier in Germany. Being able to communicate in other languages makes you much more valuable to an employer and having that competitive edge on your resume is without a doubt an eye-catcher. 

[Save and compare foreign language programs side-by-side with MyGoAbroad ]

sake barrels in Tokyo, Japan

Now you can sake it to all those mono-lingual losers.

4. Foreign language study grows your brain

Studies have demonstrated the cognitive benefits of learning another language, no matter how old you are. These studies have shown that bilinguals tend to have bigger brains, better memories, are more creative, better problem solvers, etc. Not only do these advantages make it easier to learn yet more languages, they also make it easier to learn, well, anything. The ability to quickly switch between tasks is especially important in today’s busy multitasking world. Bilinguals can switch between tasks much faster than their monolingual counterparts and can handle many more tasks at once.  

5. Form meaningful friendships when you study a foreign language

Meeting new and interesting people and developing lifelong friendships are certainly objectives well worth aspiring for, and learning another language is a sure way to expedite that process. Language helps express our feelings, desires, and connect with other humans around us and forms meaningful relationships. Speaking a foreign language not only opens up a massive pool of potential friends, but it also acts as an instant common denominator when you meet native speakers. Plus, speaking in a foreign tongue can be like speaking in secret code with your new besties. This approach is not exactly a foolproof Enigma machine, but it can make discussing the sordid details of Friday night’s debauchery a little less embarrassing.

[ How to Prepare for Intensive Language Programs Abroad ]

6. studying a foreign language makes you more open-minded.

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 become an open-minded, understanding, tolerant individual, and that is absolutely priceless. 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 behavior, you are ready to consider others in a more favorable light. Seeing the world from a different perspective, and understanding where you and others come from, is a fantastic, eye-opening experience.

Stop sign

Pare. Foreign language study time.

7. Foreign language study helps you better understand your own language and culture

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 impart to former monolinguals.

Next steps to foreign language study

Ready to take the next step to foreign language study? If Duolingo isn’t cutting it, check out these additional resources to help you get the ball rolling: 

  • Get matched with language study programs at MyGoAbroad
  • Compare and contrast language study programs with OnlineAdvisor
  • 10 Best Ways to Learn a New Language
  • Check out available Language Schools Abroad
  • Study Foreign Languages Abroad
  • Some Tips for Language Learning Abroad  

For even more insider info, remember to always read foreign language study program reviews and reach out to a program advisor with any and all questions you may have.

german pastries and bread

How are you going to order your baked goods if you don’t know what they are?!

Now you’ll parlez with the best of ‘em! 

Learning a foreign language is of the utmost importance and the reasons to study a foreign language are innumerable. Studying (and ultimately fluently speaking) a foreign language helps break barriers and connects human beings on a deeper level of mutual understanding. Plus, reaching this mutual understanding will inevitably open a series of doors leading to a more interesting and satisfying personal and professional life!

Find foreign language study abroad programs

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Explore Language Immersion Programs on GoAbroad.com

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Why should you learn a new language?

Learning a new language is a complex task, but the benefits of language learning include social and cultural connections, as well as health and cognitive advantages . Research shows that it's never too early or too late to start learning a new language -- our brains are far more adaptive and flexible than previously thought, and our brains are built for language learning! Whether you are 8 or 80, learning French or Korean, studying a new language for the first time ever or for the first time in 50 years, there's never been more reason and more support for learning a new language.

Drawing of Duolingo characters Lucy and Lin, who are grandmother and granddaughter, sitting together at a table. They are looking at each other and both have chopsticks in their hands and are eating from a plate piled high with food.

Connect to people and cultures

Language is all about communication and connection, and studying a new language brings people and cultures closer to us. At the beginning, learning a language might feel like all vocabulary and grammar, but it doesn't take long to build up the skills to make meaningful connections in the new language. In fact, the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (or CEFR ) prioritizes personal, family, and descriptive language for beginners.

Learners today have more access to more languages -- Duolingo has courses in 40 languages -- and so the importance of personal and cultural reasons for language study is becoming clearer. A recent report shows that interest in culture drives learners to Korean, and this trend is likely linked to the rise of Korean entertainment and media, including K-pop and Korean dramas. The study also shows that family reasons are especially important for those choosing to study Chinese. Language is such a strong link to heritage that in some places we see the local language has become more popular on Duolingo than languages like Spanish and French: Hawaiian and Japanese are now the second and third most popular languages to study in Hawaii, and Irish has overtaken Spanish as the most popular language to study in Ireland.

Challenge your brain

Adults' brains may not be quite as flexible as children's, but they are still really adaptable and ready to learn! Most learners can reach their communication goals without striving for the vaguely-defined concept of "fluency," and your adult brain is definitely equipped for that kind of language learning. Even after just a few months of language study, adult learners' brains show changes and even some processing patterns like those of native speakers. And after a year of learning, adults show improvements in the kind of cognitive adaptations that make bilinguals successful in switching between their languages.

illustration of a brain with gears turning in the background

Being bilingual trains your brain to perform a cognitively complex task: turning one language "down" while turning the other "up," in every interaction, for every word! Bilinguals' brains treat languages like a seesaw, raising one up higher when it's needed, and pushing lower the one not being used. This push-and-pull in their brains gets bilinguals practicing a specific kind of attention and control .

Bilinguals who codeswitch , or use both their languages in the same conversation , are getting another kind of cognitive workout by keeping their language seesaw balanced: they might move from all one language, to all another language, and then to really sophisticated systems of mixing that use both languages at once!

Support healthy aging

For older adults, language learning can serve as an engaging activity that promotes problem solving and strategizing, which research shows can improve cognitive functioning .

Languages provide new ways of interacting with people in our communities and around the world. While students may have the option of learning a new language in school, technology makes it easier than ever before for older adults to learn, too. Apps, virtual language meet-ups like Duolingo Events , and online forums give adults ways to engage directly with language practice partners and native speakers. Exploring new cultures, travel, and making new social connections with people around the world can also have a positive impact on older adults. For example, research shows that interacting more regularly with more people has benefits for older adults' health and quality of life .

Bilingual adults who use their languages regularly may even show a delayed onset of dementia symptoms compared to monolinguals -- bilingual brains are better able to resist the disease and function healthily for longer!

It's never too early or too late to start learning!

From your brain's perspective, people of any age can learn new languages -- but it's typically harder for adults to find the time and resources to get the learning to stick. Language learning takes time and patience, and it should also be enjoyable.

illustration of a variety of ways to learn and practice a new language. From the left: a pencil, an open book, a Duolingo exercise with avatars having a conversation, the kind of nametag you'd get at an event with a lot of new folks, an open laptop with a Duolingo exercise with a character from another language on the screen, a dropped pin like on Google Maps, headphones, a speaker icon with sound coming out, and Duolingo open on a cell phone.

The best way to learn a language is whatever method motivates you to keep at it! Here are some ways to start your learning journey today:

  • Use free tools and resources to try different things and discover what works for you.
  • Find ways to practice a little bit at a time, every day. It's better to study 5 minutes every day than an hour one day a week!
  • Link your study time with other parts of your schedule to help you remember and fit in language practice. You could do lessons with your morning coffee, read a bit on your afternoon commute, or listen to music in the language while working out.
  • Label household objects with stickers of the words in the new language. You can go room-by-room or focus on the objects that you interact with the most.
  • Watch shows on your favorite streaming service with audio in the new language and captions in your own language. This will help train your ear, and it won't even feel like studying!
  • Find or create a playlist with songs in the language you're studying . This is a great way to get used to common phrases, and the repetition in songs is great for learning. The language will really get into your head!
  • Follow social media accounts that post in the language you're learning, enabling you to see posts about your favorite topics in the language as you scroll.
  • For languages you have some experience with, change your phone's interface to the language. You'll learn tons of useful vocabulary really quickly.

For more tips and learning ideas, check out the rest of the Duolingo Blog ! You'll find posts with activities for kids and the young at heart , ideas for staying motivated , and ways to improve specific skills, like speaking and reading !

Español: ¿Por qué deberías aprender un nuevo idioma?

Aprender un nuevo idioma es una tarea difícil, pero hacerlo trae beneficios como aumentar tus conexiones sociales y culturales, además de numerosas ventajas para tu mente y tu salud. Según estudios, nunca es demasiado tarde o demasiado temprano para empezar a aprender un nuevo idioma: nuestros cerebros son mucho más flexibles y pueden adaptarse más de lo que solía creerse, ¡y además están hechos para aprender idiomas! Ya sea que tengas 8 u 80 años, que estés aprendiendo francés o coreano, o que estés aprendiendo un nuevo idioma por primera vez o desde hace 50 años, nunca ha habido más razones para aprender y más formas de respaldar tu aprendizaje de un nuevo idioma.

Dibujo de los personajes de Duolingo Lucy y Lin, quienes son abuela y nieta, sentadas juntas a la mesa. Están mirándose la una a la otra. Ambas tienen palillos en sus manos y están comiendo de un plato repleto de comida

Conéctate con personas y culturas

Lo esencial en los idiomas son la comunicación y el conectarnos, y aprender un nuevo idioma nos acerca más a otras personas y culturas. Al principio, aprender un idioma puede sentirse como solamente una repetición de vocabulario y gramática, pero no tardamos mucho en desarrollar las habilidades necesarias para formar una conexión importante con el nuevo idioma. De hecho, el Marco Común Europeo de Referencia ( MCER, o CEFR , en inglés) da prioridad a un lenguaje más personal, familiar y descriptivo para los principiantes.

Hoy, las personas que aprenden idiomas tienen un mayor acceso a más idiomas (Duolingo ofrece cursos en 40 idiomas), por lo que cada vez es más clara la importancia de los motivos personales y culturales para aprender idiomas. En un reporte reciente vimos que el interés en la cultura coreana conduce a las personas a aprender coreano, lo cual está seguramente ligado con el ascenso de los medios y entretenimiento coreanos, entre los que están el k-pop y los dramas coreanos. El estudio también demostró que los lazos familiares son uno de los factores más importantes a la hora de optar por aprender chino. El idioma tiene una conexión tan fuerte con la herencia que vemos que en algunos países es más común que las personas aprendan el idioma local en Duolingo que otro idioma como el español o el francés: el hawaiano y el japonés son ahora el segundo y el tercer idioma más popular para aprender en Hawái y el irlandés superó al español como el idioma más popular para aprender en Irlanda.

Desafía a tu mente

Quizás los cerebros de los adultos no sean tan flexibles como los de los niños y niñas, ¡pero aún así tienen una alta capacidad de adaptación y están listos para aprender! La mayoría de las personas que aprenden idiomas pueden alcanzar sus metas comunicativas * sin la necesidad de recurrir a un concepto tan vago como la “fluidez” y, además, el cerebro de los adultos tiene todo lo necesario * para ese tipo de aprendizaje de idiomas. Incluso después de unos pocos meses * de aprendizaje de idiomas, el cerebro de los adultos presenta cambios y hasta ciertos patrones de procesamiento comparables con los de un hablante nativo. Después de todo un año de aprendizaje, los adultos muestran el tipo de adaptación cognitiva que permite a los hablantes bilingües alternar entre sus idiomas.*

una ilustración de un cerebro con engranajes que gira en el fondo

Ser bilingüe entrena a tu cerebro para realizar una tarea cognitiva compleja: “bajar” un idioma mientras el otro “sube”... ¡en cada interacción, para cada palabra! Los cerebros de las personas bilingües tratan a los idiomas como un sube y baja, donde uno queda en alto cuando es necesario y el otro queda debajo cuando no es utilizado. Este movimiento en sus cerebros permite que las personas bilingües practiquen un tipo específico de atención y control .*

Aquellas personas que pueden poner en práctica la alternancia de código ; es decir, usar ambos idiomas en una misma conversación, están realizando un ejercicio cognitivo * diferente, al mantener equilibrado ese sube y baja de idiomas: quizás no pasan completamente de un idioma al otro del todo ¡o quizás emplean un sistema sofisticado * donde mezclan ambos idiomas para utilizarlos al mismo tiempo!

Un envejecimiento lleno de vitalidad

En el caso de los adultos mayores, el aprendizaje puede servir como una actividad entretenida que promueva la resolución de problemas y el pensamiento estratégico, los cuales pueden mejorar el desempeño cognitivo ,* según indican los estudios.

Los idiomas nos proveen de nuevas formas de interactuar con los miembros de nuestras comunidades y con comunidades en todo el mundo. Aunque se puede elegir aprender un nuevo idioma en una escuela, la tecnología hace que aprender hoy sea más fácil que nunca, incluso para los adultos mayores. Las apps, las reuniones virtuales de idiomas como Duolingo Events * y los foros en línea dan a los adultos nuevas maneras de interactuar directamente con otras personas que aprenden idiomas y con hablantes nativos. Explorar nuevas culturas, viajar y establecer nuevos lazos sociales con personas en todo el mundo también puede tener un impacto positivo en la vida de los adultos mayores. Por ejemplo, los estudios demuestran que interactuar con una mayor regularidad con personas ha beneficiado la salud y calidad de vida de los adultos mayores .*

Los adultos bilingües que utilizan sus idiomas de forma regular incluso podrían retrasar el inicio de los síntomas de demencia , en comparación con los adultos monolingües: los cerebros de las personas bilingües son mejores al momento de resistir la enfermedad y funcionan de forma sana por más tiempo.

¡Nunca es muy tarde o muy temprano para empezar a aprender!

Si pensamos desde tu cerebro, las personas de cualquier edad pueden aprender un nuevo idioma, pero en general es más difícil para los adultos hacerse del tiempo y los recursos para retener lo que aprendieron. Aprender idiomas lleva tiempo y paciencia, y también debería ser algo que disfrutar.

una ilustración de una variedad de formas de aprender y practicar un nuevo idioma. De izquierda a derecha: un lápiz, un libro abierto, un ejercicio de Duolingo donde los personajes están conversando, una etiqueta con nombre como las que encontrarías en un evento con muchos desconocidos, una marca como las de los mapas en Google Maps, un par de auriculares, un ícono de parlante con sonido que sale de él y un celular con la aplicación de Duolingo

¡La mejor forma de aprender un idioma es utilizar el método que más te motive a seguir aprendiendo! Aquí hay algunas formas de empezar hoy tu nueva aventura de aprendizaje:

  • Usa herramientas y recursos gratuitos para intentar diferentes cosas y descubrir qué funciona mejor para ti.
  • Encuentra formas de practicar un poco cada vez y cada día. ¡Es mejor aprender durante 5 minutos cada día * que una hora por semana!
  • Inserta tu tiempo de aprendizaje en otros momentos de tu día para recordar e incluir la práctica de idiomas en tu día a día. Podrías hacer lecciones mientras bebes tu café por la mañana, leer un poco mientras usas el transporte público por la tarde o escuchar música en el idioma que estás aprendiendo mientras estás ejercitándote.
  • Etiqueta los objetos de tu casa con calcomanías que incluyan cómo se dicen esas palabras en tu nuevo idioma. Puedes ir cuarto por cuarto y enfocarte en los objetos que más utilizas.
  • Ve programas en tu televisor o servicio de streaming favorito con el audio configurado en el idioma que estás aprendiendo y subtítulos en tu propio idioma. Esto te ayudará a entrenar tu oído... ¡y además no se sentirá como que estás estudiando!
  • Busca o crea una lista de reproducción con canciones en el idioma que estás aprendiendo. Es una gran forma de acostumbrarte a las frases más comunes. Por otra parte, la repetición en las canciones es genial para aprender. ¡El idioma realmente entrará en tu cabeza!
  • Sigue cuentas en redes sociales que hagan publicaciones en el idioma que estás aprendiendo, de forma tal que veas publicaciones sobre tus temas favoritos en ese idioma mientras lees las publicaciones de tus contactos.
  • Si ya tienes algunos conocimientos, cambia la interfaz de tu teléfono a ese idioma. Aprenderás una gran cantidad de vocabulario útil muy rápido.

Para más tips e ideas para aprender, ¡no dejes de leer el resto del blog de Duolingo ! Podrás encontrar publicaciones con actividades para niños y niñas y para todos aquellos que son jóvenes por dentro ,* ideas para que mantengas tu motivación y formas de mejorar habilidades específicas, como hablar y leer .

  • Enlace en inglés.

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Why is it important to study a foreign language?

Why Is It Important to Study a Foreign Language?

Whether you love learning language or hate it, there are compelling reasons to put foreign language skills on your list for personal or professional development. 

Language skills are practical for your career and have benefits far beyond simple communication. Here's what you need to know to add a foreign language to your development plan today.

1. Improves native language understanding

Studying a second language helps students better understand their own native language. As students learn the grammar, structure, and quirks of a second language, they begin to notice "what they know" about their first language. This helps students command their first language with more skill.

2. Enhances analytical skills

Studying a foreign language may also improve analytical skills. To learn a new language, people engage with multiple cognitive strategies such as problem-solving and abstract concept visualization. This process builds cognitive strategies students can use in other areas.

3. Improves job prospects

A 2019 study suggested that 32% of U.S. employers needed employees with second language communication skills, and one in four employers surveyed lost a business opportunity due to language challenges. Learning a second language can provide job-seekers with a stand-out resume.

4. Can help improve attention span and focus

Some evidence suggests that learning languages improves executive function and attention. Executive function is a set of skills required for everyday behavior—examples of executive functions include memory, flexible thinking, self-control. A literature review found evidence that suggested potential links between attention span, focus, and bilingualism or multilingualism. It might be the case that learning a new language helps to improve many executive functions.

5. Slows cognitive decline

A long-term study on monolingual and bilingual persons discovered that learning a second language seems to prevent cognitive decline in later age. The study began in the 1940s when participants were 11 years old, and speakers were retested between 2008 and 2010. Participants who became bilingual in those intervening years showed less decline in attention and cognition-related tests.

6. Builds multitasking skills

Current advice suggests multitasking isn't the most efficient way to complete tasks. However, job-seekers will definitely face some situations where multitasking is inevitable. Studying a foreign language could help improve multitasking skills because language switching helps to create new pathways as the brain switches from one language to another.

7. Improves memory

Learning a new language may contribute to better memory. Some studies conducted on bilingual children found them better at memory games than monolingual children. Other studies on new language learners—even those who hadn't mastered another language yet—showed a better capacity for memory tasks. It could even help delay the onset of memory-related age disorders such as Alzheimer's.

How does studying a foreign language benefit a career?

How does studying a foreign language benefit a career?

Language learning can directly benefit career searches, especially in a competitive job field. Organizations are increasingly integrated with the global economy; companies are now looking to internationalize and operate in areas where knowing a second language is not only beneficial, but also necessary.

In data science, for example, a company might need a data scientist who can read studies and documentation in Chinese. Another company may need speakers for a new office in Mexico.

In the United States, millions of people speak a language other than English at home. Companies that want to localize and are able to reach these speakers in their native language will have a competitive edge over companies that lack access to speakers of a local language.

What is the importance of language in education?

Studying foreign language is important in education.

Language learning has been shown to have a host of benefits in education, including enhancing students’:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Memory functioning
  • Creative thinking
  • Verbal abilities
  • Communication skills
  • Listening abilities
  • Cultural awareness

Students who learn a second language tend to enjoy these cognitive benefits that, in turn, lead to higher academic performance and language abilities.

Students who can speak a second or multiple languages may also read studies and materials in a different language. They can help conduct research with global colleagues, and they have access to knowledge banks in multiple languages—unlike monolingual students who must rely on available translations. Translations take time, and a lot of valuable information can get lost in translation.

How does learning a language help with cultural awareness?

Learning new languages helps foster cultural awareness.

Foreign language programs help to inspire greater cultural awareness. Studying different languages not only equips students with vital business skills, but also encourages students to explore new cultures, connect with native speakers, and travel. History and culture underlie language; in the process of learning new languages, students pick up on cultural traditions and improve their cultural awareness.

Do all students need to learn a foreign language?

All students don't need to learn a foreign language to get by, but all students should strongly consider another language anyway. There are too many benefits to think about the short-term necessity. Mathematics students may not need a second language to master math skills, but second language study can improve analytical skills in the long term. The budding mathematician may have better job prospects in the future and will gain access to expanded research.

What language is easiest to learn?

Which language is easiest to learn?

The easiest language for someone to learn will depend on a student’s first language and current living situation.

Languages that mimic the structure of a student’s native language or stem from a similar/the same common language are often easier to learn. The structures will be familiar to the student, and the language may have some vocabulary in common. Similar languages may also come from similar cultures, making the practice easier.

For instance, Spanish, French, and Italian are all Latin languages that have similarities with English. A native English speaker will often find it easier to learn these languages than, say, learning Japanese .

That said, language similarities aren’t everything. Proximity to other speakers will determine how fast a student can learn a language. For instance, in the United States, students will have an easier time finding native Spanish speakers than native speakers of, say, Portuguese. This access alone is very helpful for language mastery.

What language is hardest to learn?

Which language is hardest to learn?

Like the previous question, this also depends. All languages are easy and difficult because languages are made of multiple components. Students can consider the elements of their own language to make their decision. These considerations are a good start:

  • Syntax: The syntax (grammar and structure) of a language could prove challenging. Some languages have more complex tenses or retain cases, while others have more straightforward rules.
  • Pronunciation: Languages don't all produce the same sounds. Certain sounds may be difficult for some speakers—Japanese speakers may struggle with the English "th" sound while English speakers struggle with the Arabic guttural "h." A language with vastly different sounds can challenge learners. Languages like Chinese add additional challenges with aspects like voice tones.
  • The number of speakers: If a language has relatively few speakers, mastering it could prove difficult, as the student may have a hard time finding people to communicate and practice with. However, if a student lives close to a community of speakers, that language may be easier to pick up.
  • Synthetic versus analytic languages: Synthetic languages like Turkish rely on inflection or added components to a root word to express meaning. Analytic languages like Chinese rely on word order and addition to change meaning. Students moving from one type to another may experience challenges at first.
  • Formality: Languages with a heavy emphasis on formal or informal forms, such as Korean, may be challenging for speakers of languages with minor differences, such as English.
  • Writing system: Students should also consider both written and spoken languages. Languages with unfamiliar scripts may take more time to learn than languages that share the student's mother tongue pronunciation and writing.

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learning a foreign language is very useful essay

  • April 8, 2024
  • Education Advice

9 Benefits of Learning a Second Language

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With the English language being the world’s lingua franca, many English speakers may think it’s not necessary to learn a new one. They aren’t necessarily right. Learning a language never goes to waste. You can use it while in a new country to communicate with the locals so they can help you find your destination or to maybe feel at home after you moved there to teach English to non-English speakers . It can even help you in your job, and your business travels.

Knowing a second language means a whole new literature is in your hands. However, these aren’t the only benefits of learning a second language . There are many more. Here’s our list of nine of them.

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Why Is Learning a Second Language Important?

In today’s increasingly interdependent world, speaking a second language is an essential skill that gives you the ability to communicate and connect with people from all over the world in a quicker and more meaningful way. Connections are now more important than ever, considering the continual globalization of the world’s economy, and knowing a foreign language will always give you a significant advantage.

There are tangible benefits to being bilingual—it can improve your brain and memory functions, boost your creativity and self-esteem,  help in your career opportunities, as well as increase your understanding of the language you already speak. Read on to find out more about the benefits of learning a foreign language.

1. It Stimulates Your Brain

Learning a new language undoubtedly helps your gray matter grow . Acquiring a new language means that you’re going to learn a whole new set of rules of grammar and lexis (whether you find this part amusing or not). While your brain is trying to keep up with the new language’s complexities and take in the new patterns, new developments are happening in the brain. Just like muscles, the brain gets stronger and bigger the more you put it to use.

Nothing challenges the brain like learning a language does. Scientists have established that we use the left side of the brain when speaking our native language. Whereas, second language usage isn’t limited to a specific hemisphere. It uses both of them, increasing the size of the white and grey matter of the brain.

But that is not all; acquiring a new language also helps to stave off cognitive decline and mental aging. Recent research shows that multilingual adults experienced the first signs of Alzheimer’s and dementia at a later age compared to monolinguals. They also researched other variables like health, economic status, educational level, and gender, but none of them contributed as much as the number of languages that person spoke.

2. It Improves Your Attention Span

benefits-of-learning-a-foreign-language

With the human attention span seemingly narrowing more and more every day, according to many studies, deciding to learn a new language may be the antidote to this situation.  Recent studies show that the average attention span of a person has reduced from twelve to eight seconds. Researchers suggest that learning a new language helps the brain maintain focus and block distractions . This is a result of regularly switching between languages.

When speaking, bilinguals or multilinguals are constantly switching between two or more languages in their head, and this juggling improves the brain’s ability to concentrate on one thing while ignoring other irrelevant information. As one study notes:

“The need to constantly control two languages confers advantages in the executive system, the system that directs cognitive processing. These effects have been demonstrated primarily using visual stimuli and are heightened in children and older adults. Specifically, bilinguals, relative to monolinguals, are better able to monitor conflicting sensory information and tune into a relevant stimulus or stimulus features amid irrelevant information, via a process known as inhibitory control.”

3. More Career Options to Choose From

We are living in a multicultural world; many companies are opening offices overseas to extend their market. So the need for bilingual candidates is greater than ever. By acquiring a foreign language, you will double the number of available jobs for you and climb the career ladder much faster.

In the highly competitive job market , employers are looking to hire someone who stands out from the rest of the candidates. Knowing a foreign language could help you be chosen among many other job applicants. Having a foreign language listed in your CV might be what a potential employer is looking for.

Also, nowadays, people who are proficient in more than one language are high in demand in the job market in all sectors and industries, as the employers consider them to be better communicators and problem solvers. Skills that one master by acquiring a second language.

4. It Boosts Your Creativity

Knowing a foreign language isn’t beneficial only to the brain; it also influences your level of creativity. As a person starts to learn a language, they get familiar with the culture of the place where that language is spoken. The more you learn about new cultures, the more you’ll look at the world around you from different perspectives. The change of views will make you more original, elaborate, and flexible—all qualities of being a creative person.

In addition, learning a new language forces your brain to put words together in creative ways, which stimulates your brain and boosts your creativity. This creativity will spill over into other aspects of your life too. Plus, experts say that being creative improves your well-being , And who are we to argue with experts?

5. It Improves Your First Language

benefits-of-learning-a-new-language

One learns the mother tongue intuitively and without any formal education. Being raised in a society where a particular language is spoken, children start to pick up the language they hear.

However, learning another language is a whole different deal. From the beginning, you’ll get introduced to grammar, vocabulary, idioms, and sentence structure. As you learn more about the second language, you become more conscious of what you know in the first language. While before you couldn’t quite explain the abstract rules and language structure, learning a new language helps you put names to what you learned instinctively in the first language.

Furthermore, you become aware of the differences in structure, vocabulary, grammar, idioms, and sentence structure between the two languages. All of these factors improve comprehension and conversation and can make you better at your first language.

6. You Build Multitasking Skills

Not many people are good at multitasking. However, this often doesn’t apply to bilingual people. They are some of the most experienced when it comes to multitasking. Their brain has been practicing in switching from one language to the other daily. When the brain gets used to this demanding job of switching from one language to another, it isn’t difficult for them to use this skill in other tasks, too.

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A study done by the National Institutes of Health concluded that bilinguals switch tasks faster than monolinguals. They found that bilingual children in their research responded quite well to their multiple computer tasks in comparison to their monolingual fellows.

Other research also found that bilinguals demonstrate more efficient brain functioning than non-bilinguals, and a bilingual person’s brain maintains better task-switching even as they get older.

7. It Slows Down Cognitive Decline

If you still haven’t started and needed another incentive to start learning a new language, here’s one. Learning a language may reduce your chances of getting early onset of cognitive impairments. More than 16 million people in the United States live with cognitive impairment , be it Alzheimer’s, Dementia, or any other disorder. The latest study on the effect of bilingualism in cognitive aging found that people who spoke more than one language regardless of their gender, ethnicity, and occupation experience the onset of cognitive decline four years and a half later than the ones who spoke only one.

While knowing a second language is not exactly the fountain of youth, it definitely helps keep your brain younger.

8. It Improves Your Memory

The brain is compared to muscles for one reason. Seeing that the more physical exercises you do, the more the muscles strengthen and get larger. This aspect applies to the brain too. The more you challenge it, the more the brain expands, and the better it functions.

You can think of learning a language as an exercise for the brain. Having first to understand and then later recall multiple grammar rules and vocabulary, strengthens the memory muscle. That’s why people who know more than one language are more likely to retain information. They’re way better at remembering lists, names, cell phone numbers, and directions than monolinguals.

Don’t believe that? There is actual evidence that learning vocabulary boosts memory . So, delve into another language and give your brain a good workout to strengthen your memory.

9. It Boosts Your Self-Esteem

No one wants to be put in the spotlight, especially when talking in a foreign language when the chances of making mistakes are quite high. Yet, this is what characterizes language learning. It breaks you out of your shell again and again that eventually, you’ll feel comfortable in every situation regardless of whether you’re making mistakes or not.

Nothing beats the confidence you feel when talking to a native speaker in their language. That’s when your self-esteem will sky-rocket. Becoming proficient in a language is like mastering any other skill. Once you’re there, you’ll feel confident and nice about yourself.

The benefits of learning another language are innumerable. Those that we mentioned in our list are just a part of them. Yet, no matter how many lists are out there, no one can convince you of the benefits as much as your own language learning experience will. With that in mind, choose a language that you find exciting and appealing and open the door to the many benefits that come with language proficiency.

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The Bottom Line

Learning a second language is a valuable investment in yourself that can provide numerous benefits, from enhancing cognitive abilities to broadening career opportunities and facilitating cultural exchange. By exploring the world through language, you can gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for different perspectives and cultures. 

If you’re interested in pursuing language learning, the University of Potomac offers a range of courses and programs to help you achieve your goals. Don’t hesitate to explore your options and take the first step towards expanding your horizons.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the benefit of learning a second language.

Learning a second language has numerous benefits, such as improving cognitive abilities, enhancing communication skills, broadening career opportunities, facilitating travel and cultural exchange, and even delaying the onset of age-related mental decline.

How can I learn a second language?

There are several ways to learn a second language, such as taking classes, using language learning software or apps, practicing with native speakers, watching movies or TV shows with subtitles, listening to music or podcasts, and reading books or news articles in the target language.

What is the most useful 2nd language to learn?

The most useful second language to learn depends on your personal goals and interests and the cultural and economic context you are in. However, some of the world’s most widely spoken and influential languages are English, Spanish, Mandarin, French, Arabic, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Japanese.

What are the two hardest languages to learn?

Mandarin Chinese and Arabic are often considered the two hardest languages for English speakers to learn due to their complex writing systems, tonal pronunciation, and grammatical structures that differ significantly from English.

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Why Study a Foreign Language?

Over the past decades our world has become more interdependent and new technologies have allowed us to work in close contact with people all over the world. As relationships with countries grow, so does the need to speak a foreign language.

We have an enhanced need for an enlightened citizenship that is both culturally and linguistically prepared to function in today's world.

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Twenty-five Reasons to Study Foreign Languages

  • Foreign language study creates more positive attitudes and less prejudice toward people who are different.
  • Studying a foreign language will improve your chances of getting a job.
  • Studying a new culture helps you meet new and interesting people.
  • Dealing with another culture enables people to gain a more profound understanding of their own culture.
  • The study of foreign languages boots confidence.
  • Graduates often cite foreign language courses as some of the most valuable courses in college because of the communication skills developed in the process.
  • International travel is made easier and more pleasant through knowing a foreign language.
  • Skills like problem solving, dealing with abstract concepts, are increased when you study a foreign language.
  • Foreign language study enhances one’s opportunities in government, business, medicine, law, technology, military, industry, marketing, etc.
  • A second language improves your skills and grades in math and English and on the SAT and GRE.
  • Analytical skills improve when students study a foreign language.
  • Foreign languages provide a competitive edge in career choices: one is able to communicate in a second language.
  • Foreign language study enhances listening skills and memory.
  • One participates more effectively and responsibly in a multi-cultural world if one knows another language.
  • Your marketable skills in the global economy are improved if you master another language.
  • Foreign language study offers a sense of the past: culturally and linguistically.
  • The study of a foreign tongue improves the knowledge of one’s own language: English vocabulary skills increase.
  • The study of foreign languages teaches and encourages respect for other peoples: it fosters an understanding of the interrelation of language and human nature.
  • Foreign languages expand one’s view of the world, liberalize one’s experiences, and make one more flexible and tolerant.
  • Foreign languages expand one’s world view and limit the barriers between people: barriers cause distrust and fear.
  • Foreign language study will completely chance your traveling experience.
  • As immigration increases we need to prepare for changes in the American society.
  • One is at a distinct advantage in the global market if one is as bilingual as possible.
  • Foreign languages open the door to art, music, dance, fashion, cuisine, film, philosophy, science…
  • 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.

* Credit to Auburn University for compilation of reasons

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List of languages by number of native speakers by "Jroel" - Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

learning a foreign language is very useful essay

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IELTS essay, topic: Is learning a foreign language essential or a waste of time (opinion)?

  • IELTS Essays - Band 9

This is a model response to a Writing Task 2 topic from High Scorer’s Choice IELTS Practice Tests book series (reprinted with permission). This answer is close to IELTS Band 9.

Set 5 Academic book, Practice Test 25

Writing Task 2

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

Some people feel that learning a foreign language is an essential component of a child’s education. Others feel that learning a foreign language is often a waste of time that can be better spent on learning about technology and other more vocational subjects.

Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your knowledge or experience.

You should write at least 250 words.

learning a foreign language is very useful essay

Sample Band 9 Essay

Throughout the history of education, learning a foreign language or languages has been a constant component. Of course, many people feel that this is really an unnecessary part of education for everyone, but this is not a point of view that I share.

The opponents to learning a foreign language might argue that most people do not travel that often outside their own country. In addition to this, out of all the countries of the world, comparatively not many share the same language. Therefore, learning a foreign language will only be useful for the very limited time that one spends in a country where this language is used. For some people, the language might never be used in their entire lives. When one thinks about how much time and money are spent training language teachers, buying resources, going on trips and delivering lessons for such a negligible benefit, this would seem to be a very inefficient allocation of resources.

However, the benefits of learning a foreign language go further than just the ability to use it from time to time on a holiday or business trip. Firstly, through learning one language, one gains an understanding to some extent of how all languages work. Thus, no matter where people might end up around the world, the knowledge of language can be of use. Secondly, with the study of a foreign language, one also opens oneself up to other cultures. This allows in turn an appreciation for different points of view and belief systems. With an ever-shrinking world due to globalisation, the ability to empathise and understand the people from other countries is vital to reducing conflict and creating a more tolerant society. Finally, quite simply learning languages is excellent for the improvement of general cognitive skills.

It seems to me that learning a foreign language, therefore, is more than just gaining the ability to speak a few words of a foreign tongue. It is part of intellectual and social development and needs to be continued for everyone in today’s schools.

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3 thoughts on “IELTS essay, topic: Is learning a foreign language essential or a waste of time (opinion)?”

Education today is an essential key to becoming successful in the future. The curriculum in these institutions should be designed in such a way that it is helpful in the overall development of a child. In this essay I will talk about if foreign language as a component of child’s education is beneficial or not. Learning a foreign language as a part of curriculum doesn’t have so many benefits when a child is growing up because they don’t have opportunities to go abroad and converse with people who speak that language. Sometimes these extra subjects create a burden on a child as there is already a lot to study, if time management is not done appropriately, they can lag in important subjects. Rather the focus of educational institutions should be on including more vocational and technology driven subjects as they make students more curious and innovative in approaching different things in life. But as said learning a foreign language has positive sides as well, as it makes a child open to other cultures and creates curiosity in them to learn more about that culture. Also, in future whenever they visit that place, they can have better communication with them without feeling helpless. Also, globalization has opened different spectrums in the world, a new language can always be beneficial to use it for your advantage in opening a new business or working in partnership with people of that country. In conclusion I would like to mention that learning a foreign language doesn’t come with lots of advantages when a child is growing up. If parents feel a need that their child should know a foreign language, then they can opt it as an additional subject which students can study in summer or winter breaks without jeopardizing their regular curriculum.

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Why is Learning a Foreign Language So Important?

7 reasons to learn a foreign language.

In this day and age where the world is so easily connected via technology and social networking, being at least bilingual is becoming more and more commonplace as it opens so many more doors to all kinds of different opportunities. Learning a foreign language is so important, and comes with many benefits that you might never have expected. Of course, learning a foreign language comes with its own inherent challenges and difficulties. As you may have heard, language learning is a marathon, not a sprint. Sure, it’s something that takes a considerable amount of time and effort, but at the end it will be well worth it.

With Glossika, you’ll be able to learn a language significantly faster than if you were to rely solely on traditional language learning methods. So if you were on the fence with learning a foreign language before, here’s why you should make no delay in getting started on your journey!

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1. It opens you up to tons of new people

It can be hard to get started with learning a foreign language. Especially if you’re learning by yourself! Sometimes, you might just be in a slump and can’t work up the motivation to finish what you set out to do. This all takes a turn for the better when you start meeting native speakers and/or fellow learners of your target language. There are plenty of language exchange sites out there that connect you with people from all over the world who are more than willing to give you a helping hand. Take advantage of this and meet some new friends while you’re at it!

Not only does knowing another language enable you to communicate with more of the world’s people and befriend them, but the practice of learning will also expose you to like-minded people. You’ll meet lots of great people that you otherwise likely wouldn’t have had the chance to meet if it wasn’t for language learning.

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2. Learning about different countries’ cultures

By learning a foreign language, you are essentially learning about one of the most important elements of a country’s culture. By learning the language of a particular country, you are opening yourself to all kinds of new cultural insights that you hadn't known about before. There’s so much more than meets the eye that you’ll get exposed to when you start to adopt their language. Music, food, theatre, literature, and history are just a few things among many others that you’ll be able to learn more about as you learn more about the language.

3. It opens the door for new opportunities

Whether this be a study abroad, a new job, a romantic partner, a business venture, or any other opportunity that involves you moving to a new country, there’s no doubt that knowing another language opens doors that you might not have known were even there in the first place. If you’re a student looking to study abroad in either a student exchange program or an international student program, you’ll find that you’ll be much better off knowing the language of that country. Quite a few international student programs are actually in that country’s language, so you’ll have to know it anyways in order to keep up. And also, when you’re going about your daily life, it’s much easier to get around and perform your everyday activities when you know the language.

From a business standpoint, it’s always going to be easier for others to communicate with you when you know their language. Whether they be potential clients, business partners, or coworkers, things are likely to go much more smoothly when there are no language barrier issues. Plus, knowing another language is a big boost to your resume even for domestic jobs as many businesses value candidates who are bilingual and have had experience with international markets.

learn a foreign language to get new job opportunities

4. Becoming a smarter and more well-rounded person

Not only does learning a new language impact the kind of person you are in the sense that it gives you a new perspective on a lot of things in life, but it also impacts the way your brain actually works. Those who learn another language become better able to retain and process new information, which leads to better results even in completely unrelated aspects.

Language learning and its effect on the brain has been likened to how lifting weights builds muscles. Learning new languages helps increase our brain’s functionality and ability to learn just about anything better and more efficiently. This makes us better able to remember things, process information, think, and become more knowledgeable across the board.

5. Adding to your repertoire of skills

Who wouldn’t find it impressive if you could nail the pronunciation of each item on Italian restaurant’s menu or effortlessly converse with someone in France about recent events? This is the difference between simply being fluent and sounding like a native speaker. And of course, if you’re able to speak several languages fluently among other skills, you will seem much more capable overall. Nothing impresses people more than being able to do all kinds of things and having many different skills.

6. Boosting your confidence

It has long been said that learning a foreign language is a source of happiness, pride, and confidence for many people. Learning new languages and using them in the real world can be very effective in teaching confidence-boosting skills that we may not have known we needed. Some of these include public speaking, thinking on your feet, and initiative.

learn a foreign language to boost your confidence

7. Traveling or living abroad

Last but not least, the obvious benefit to learning a new language is that your itinerary will get a serious boost when you travel! One of the great parts of travel is the people that you encounter along the way. By learning the language of the country, your travel experiences will become much more authentic, and really give you a feel for that country and its people.

Get Started on Your Language Learning Journey

Language a new language is so much more than meets the eye. In addition to the obvious benefits, there are so many more intrinsic aspects of various countries' cultures that you would otherwise be missing out on. Language helps you in many more ways than you’d expect, as this list shows, that are not necessarily limited to foreign experiences. You never know how a new language may change your life for the better, so it's time to get started on your language learning journey today.

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learning a foreign language is very useful essay

The Role of Writing in the Process of Learning a Foreign Language

Writing and teaching have always been the main drivers of my identity. Doing both at the same time has been, in one way or another, a recurring theme in my life. That is why for my self-study I’ve chosen to focus on how my own experience as a writer has impacted my teaching career throughout the years, making me develop a language program that uses writing as a central component of the practice and acquisition of a foreign tongue.  

The first teaching experience I had was already intrinsically linked to my writing. With an adolescent passion, I had written a short essay on the crucial importance of literacy, inspired by my own experience teaching an illiterate sixty-year-old couple to read and write. I was so moved by their progress and being able to bring them the miracle of the written word that I couldn’t help it and wrote about it. My seventh grade literature teacher asked me to sit in her chair, read my essay to my classmates, and share that inspiring teaching experience with the entire class. That day both the teacher and the writer that I am were born in that classroom.

learning a foreign language is very useful essay

Many years have passed since that presentation in class. An infinity of events have shaped my life in multiple ways, as it happens to everyone. I became a true writer and teacher, lived and worked in various countries, traveled around the world, experienced the intensity and struggles of living under completely different socio-political systems, and expressed myself in various languages. But the only thing that has not changed is my commitment to teaching and writing, which has stayed with me in all those stages. Even when I used to think of them as two independent parts of my professional life, they have never really been separated from each other. After teaching many different types of students in truly diverse contexts, ranging from European universities to American journalists to the business world, twenty-four years ago I joined the high school faculty at LREI. From day one, writing was at the center of my language teaching program. Here, these two important parts of my identity came home once again, and they have made sense to me only as an inseparable unit.

learning a foreign language is very useful essay

As a teacher with almost five decades on the job, I have always been aware that my practices and perspectives need to keep changing constantly in order to continue to be relevant and effective to the new generations of students. In the current society, which tends to enshrine the image as the main means of cultural exchange, the deficiencies of linguistic competence of young people when communicating with each other and with the world around them is a growing problem even in its first tongue. This in itself is a total challenge when it comes to the teaching or learning of a foreign language, where the significance of words and how they are used to carry out effective communication acquire an even greater proportion.

learning a foreign language is very useful essay

I have worked throughout my years at LREI to design a language program based on advancing the written skills as a point of departure for developing the rest of the skills needed to achieve real fluency in the target language. This idea has been the central piece of my pedagogical process, and it is my intention to illustrate in this self-study how it works. After years of trial and error, I have come to learn that by focusing the teaching on activities that promote writing and the analysis of literary texts, it is possible indeed to achieve the full practice of the linguistic structures that allow communicative competence, the correct use of the grammar, and the acquisition of the necessary vocabulary for the oral communication in a foreign language.

At the same time, the emphasis on writing also contributes to the development of creativity and critical thinking of students. Using writing as an insightful systematic tool in a language class becomes of utmost importance for the learning process when not only linguistic fluency but also true respect for the culture and the different ethnicities and identities represented by the target language is what is expected.

The key questions of my self-study are:

  • How does a full time language teacher find the time to produce his own work as a writer?
  • Why must l let go of teaching in order to continue my work as an author at this point in my professional life?
  •   Could my personal perspective of teaching through writing be useful in the future work of the World Language department at LREI?

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One thought on “The Role of Writing in the Process of Learning a Foreign Language”

Antonio, I love how you have tied this reflection to the very beginnings of your work as a teacher. I think it will be equally powerful to explore how that deep personal connection to the value of the work is made manifest in the practices that you have developed over time. The dual focus of how these connections can orient you into your next adventures and how they can also provide an ongoing foundation for practice at LREI is quite powerful.

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Foreign Language IELTS Essay: IELTS Writing Task 2 Essay Samples

  • Updated On December 14, 2023
  • Published In IELTS Preparation 💻

Writing Task 2 of the IELTS exam has displayed a large variety of questions over the years. However, there are still some general themes and topics that are often repeated in Task 2 of this English proficiency test. One of these recurring themes is the new language or the foreign language theme.

Table of Contents

In this theme, you can be asked to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of learning a different language belonging to any of the foreign countries. Additionally, you can also be asked to express your own opinion on the topic. This blog shares detailed information about Foreign Language IELTS Essay. Before we get deeper into the topic and start discussing model answers, let’s walk through some general tips that can help you in leaving a good impression on the examiner about your English language skills in task 2.

Foreign Language IELTS Essay

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Tips to Ace the Foreign Language Essay Writing Task 2 IELTS

Although you can find an endless number of relevant examples for the essay writing task in IELTS, there really is no fixed format that can guarantee you a good band score in the writing section. So, what really works in helping you get a good score in task 2?

  • A strong introduction and conclusion that are in coherence with the topic assigned: This will immediately get your examiner hooked onto the paragraphs written inside your piece and will leave a great impression on them!
  • Use of refined vocabulary along with excellent use of grammar: Making use of good (and sometimes complex) vocabulary accompanied by an accurate usage of the English grammar is a pre-requisite for getting a good score in writing. It shows the examiner that your own knowledge of the language is vast.
  • Providing relevant examples from different parts of the world: Many aspirants miss out on supporting their arguments along with good examples from either their own country or a different country. This leads to them losing out on marks in task 2.

Following these three tips will really catapult your writing task 2 score, which will have a greater impact on your overall band score for the writing section. To make the application of these tips more clear, let’s take a look at some of the sample answers for the foreign language theme.

Foreign Language IELTS Essay Samples

Question – Some people believe that the only reason for learning a new/foreign language is for travelling or working in a foreign land. While others argue that there are many more reasons as why someone should learn a new language apart from their native language. You have to discuss both these arguments and give your own opinion on the following topic. Make sure to give reasons for your answers and provide examples. Minimum word limit – 250 words

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Foreign Language IELTS Essay: IELTS Writing Task 2 Essay Samples

Sample Answer 1

Learning a second language or a foreign language is linked to many advantages that far surpass the sole reasons of learning a new language for travelling or working in a foreign land. However, for the sake of playing the devil’s advocate, I’ll say that some people belonging to a different school of thought consider better job opportunities and travelling to be the only motive behind learning a foreign language. I am of the opinion that there are other reasons like learning about a foreign culture, and the bright prospect of cognitive development that propel many monolingual people to study a new language. With ever-increasing globalization and the opening up of international barriers, more and more people choose to emigrate to new and foreign lands in the hope of better job prospects. This often requires them to learn a new tongue. For instance, many people prefer learning languages like English, Spanish, and French, rather than the Russian language because countries speaking the former tongues have shown more affinity towards emigrants and provide a multitude of better job opportunities. This makes many people believe that jobs and sometimes travel are the only driving forces for learning a new tongue, especially for a young learner. On the other hand, some people including myself have researched the pros and cons of learning a foreign language thoroughly and have found that the pros far outweigh the drawbacks. The onset of memory ailments like dementia can be slowed down by cognitive development that comes with learning a foreign language. Furthermore, multilingual people are more confident and can easily acclimate themselves to new and alien surroundings by the virtue of their communication skills that have been expanded and upscaled. They find it easy to overcome language barriers and truly become global citizens speaking the global language. In conclusion, to go through the tough process of honing effective communication skills in a third language or a second language, people realise that it is not just for the sake of travel or work that they are doing this process. Instead, it stems from a deeper love for the language and the confidence that speaking a new tongue instills in them. Question – When living in a foreign country where you have to speak a new language, you can face serious social and practical problems. To what extent do you agree or disagree? Give reasons and examples in your answer and write at least 250 words.

Foreign Language IELTS Essay

Also Read: SAT Writing & Language Test 2022

Sample Answer 2

Language barriers arguably form the backbone of the biggest social and practical problems that people living in a foreign land have to face and overcome often. In my personal opinion, it can also spark serious problems in various countries, however, the widespread use of technology in curbing these issues to a certain extent over the past few decades. People belonging to different cultures can have issues in understanding each other because of speaking different languages and sometimes even because of different ways of pronunciation of the same words. Migration is not on the rise in the twenty-first century and people often move to distant lands in hopes of jobs, travel, and sometimes studying. In such a scenario not speaking the land’s language can become a basis for social problems like discrimination, racism, etc. Interestingly enough, technology has played a pivotal role in curbing the extent of practical problems faced by people when moving to a new land without being savvy with the foreign language. For instance, there are many web-based applications that do the translation job for people and save them the trouble of having to explain their point to the natives merely through vague hand gestures.

By way of conclusion, I stand firm on the point that social problems can far exceed practical problems when migrating to a foreign land without being fluent in the foreign language and perhaps, some language learning could really help in becoming a part of the foreign culture quicker and better. Although, as far as practical problems are concerned, technology is a boon that is eliminating most of them.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. how do i practice the ielts writing at home.

Ans: The best way to  practice  writing for IELTS is by looking at sample answers and practising as many themes as you can. You can also show this to a tutor or an online learning platform’s mentors like the ones at  Leap Scholar  to ensure that you are on the right path.

2. What is the ideal format for IELTS writing task 2?

Ans: There is no single ideal format for writing. As you practice you will notice that for different themes, you can have many different formats. You should use the one you’re most confident with in the exam.

3. Is IELTS writing formal or informal?

Ans: IELTS writing should be formal.

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15 Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language

Learning to speak a foreign language is often times considered a necessity of successfully integrating and functioning in a particular community.

Communicating effectively helps you to get the most out of your foreign experience. Imagine being lost in a country where you don’t speak the language and the locals don’t speak yours. You have to retort to signing, pointing and google translate.

The need for communication is essential and quite evident in these kinds of scenarios. The same can be said for someone who has moved to a different country for a new job, vacationing in a foreign country or an English teacher teaching abroad.

Benefits of learning a new language

In all these cases knowing a foreign language would prove to be quite useful in day-to-day life. There are a number of benefits attached to learning a foreign language , and here are just a few of them.

1. Learning a foreign language accelerates brain power

Speaking a language helps you to access multiple areas of your brain, this is because each language requires differing skills with regards to pronunciation, etymology, structural rules and varying degrees of complexities. It therefore makes sense that the more languages you speak the more brain power you exude. Think of a foreign language as a gym session for your brain. The result? Quicker and clearer processing of information, enhanced reading techniques, and accelerated problem-solving skills.

2. It helps your brain develop how to multitask

Have you ever watched someone switch between two or more languages? It is something quite awe-inspiring. It could be equated to watching a juggler juggling a bunch of clubs with intense precision, switching back and forth between languages creates the same effect. Your brain is essentially tapping into each language’s specific mechanics, simultaneously. Your brain is exercising and stretching its multitasking abilities, therefore speaking a foreign language could help you increase your ability to switch back and forth between various daily activities with ease.

3. The onset of Dementia and Alzheimer’s is stalled

Studies that focus on the onset of Alzheimer’s found that the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s amongst multilingual individuals was delayed. According to the study, Alzheimer’s symptoms only start developing at the age of 75 or more amongst those who were multilingual compared to the age of 71 or less for those who only spoke one language. This outcome was concluded considering that all other factors were held equal. This means factors such as overall health, diet, economic status, and education level weren’t considered.

4. It improves memory and retention

learning a foreign language

Learning a new language requires you to retain a great amount of new information. This includes an excess amount of vocabulary, structural rules and pronunciation requirements. Not only are you learning and memorising all these new concepts you are also making your brain use them as a communication tool. As such, learning a foreign language essentially strengthens your brain’s memory as it forces it to recall newly learned information, the brain is then required to associate this information with mnemonics resulting in better retention.

5. Gives the mind a slight information processing edge

Learning a new language can prove to be a rather challenging task. This is because languages tend to be linked to more than just learning vocabulary but also have historic and cultural links to their country of origin. This makes learning a new language quite difficult and challenging and as such requiring strong will, discipline and focus, ultimately building critical thinking skills. These skills can then be aptly used in an online course for passing IELTS .

6. Improves decision-making abilities

When you learn a foreign language not only are you learning new vocabulary you are also learning idioms and phrases that are nuanced and specific to that language. This means learning a new language is not simply about knowing vocabulary but also knowing how appropriate and relevant the words you have learned are in a social construct. Multilingual people not only have to weed through different languages in their minds, they have to decide which words to use appropriately in any given conversation. This requires critical-thinking, decision-making skills and on the spot problem-solving.

7. Improves ability to speak first language

One of the tools used for learning a new language is translating words back to the learner’s home language or first language. This means that the foreign language is first introduced through the lens of your home language, as a result, you are forced to expand your own home language skills. It also means you might need to search for the appropriate home language words to accurately translate the foreign words you are learning.

8. Enhances performance in various academic areas

learning a foreign language

Knowing a foreign language while tackling academics could prove to be quite a magic trick to pull out of the hat. As already stated, learning a foreign language requires intense focus and self-discipline. This means when it comes to studying techniques such as cramming and memorisation your brain has already been basted. You have exercised brain muscles that monolinguals haven’t even accessed yet. This will of course translate to test and exam scores that have been affected by your brain’s ability to study and retain information. Learning a foreign language also helps you to improve your comprehension abilities as your brain has to not only learn new words but also understand them. As such, studying and comprehending what you have studied becomes a lot easier. As a result reading and understanding exam vocabulary becomes easier and correcting written work such as essays requires less effort.

9. Allows individuals to be more open and receptive of other people’s cultures

As previously mentioned learning a foreign language requires you to somewhat understand the history and culture of the language’s origins. This means delving head first into the language’s associated culture; including foods, political associations, music, dance, and history. In order to successfully immerse yourself; you will need to have an open mind and receptive energy. This allows you to be appreciative of differences and less fearful of learning how different people do things.

10. Speaking a foreign language opens up various career opportunities

Well this one makes total sense, earlier we mentioned moving to a foreign country for a new job. Even though you don’t need to speak a country’s language to get the opportunity to work there, knowing the language certainly gives you an advantageous edge. Corporates want to know that you will do well in your role before hiring you, knowing the language strongly signals that you would be in the best position to perform your role well.

11. Builds self confidence

learning a foreign language

Successfully mastering a concept that is foreign and completely new to you is reason enough to feel extremely accomplished within your own abilities. Learning a new language helps you prove to yourself that you have enough self-discipline, perseverance and strong-will to produce results, which is certainly a confidence booster. Every time you are able to flex your language skills you are essentially injecting a new dose of confidence into your life.

12. It helps in self-discovery and self-actualization

Proving to yourself that you are completely capable of achieving something that you put your mind to helps you come to terms with yourself and all your capabilities. As you dive into all the intricacies and complexities that go with learning a foreign language you get to know yourself a little more, and finally having a full conversation in that language allows you to reach a state of self-actualization.

learning a foreign language

13. It opens doors to different forms of expression

This benefit is especially perfect for those who express themselves in some form of artistic expression. Whether this is poetry, music, writing or singing, learning a new language gives you a new form of self-expression. You allow your brain to tap into a new artistic wave length where you can produce your art in a different and new way.

14. Expands your potential pool of dating candidates

A language barrier is absolutely not a sufficient reason to eliminate a potential dating candidate as history proves that people from different backgrounds and languages can successfully fall in love and live happy lives. However, knowing your potential love interest’s language promises a much smoother romantic interaction.

15. Allows you to successfully integrate yourself into a different culture

Moving locations and starting over is certainly not an easy feat, in fact, it is one of the most difficult things one might ever have to do. Knowing the foreign language of the country you will be calling your new home will make this transition much easier. You won’t struggle with basic things such as asking for directions or reading road signs. The challenges of moving won’t disappear but they certainly won’t feel all-encompassing.

learning a foreign language is very useful essay

British Council

The benefits of new technology in language learning, by gary motteram, 18 september 2013 - 11:22.

Current word processors allow us to create and re-create our texts until they are fully comprehensible to others.

Gary Motteram, editor of the British Council publication   Innovations in learning technologies for English language teaching , explains how the arrival of digital technologies in the classroom has helped learning.

Technology is very much part of language learning throughout the world at all different levels. We are as likely to find it in the primary sector as much as in adult education.

I no longer need to make the case for computers to be provided in education, because computers are there in abundance in all their modern forms.We may see traditional computers in labs, teachers and students walking around with laptops or tablet PCs, and many people will have a mobile phone in their pocket that is capable of doing rather more than the mainframe computers that started computer-assisted language learning in the 1960s. I do recognise that there are many kinds of digital divide, and that this is not true everywhere.

What can put teachers off using technology

What is still sometimes an issue is the reliability of these technologies for classroom use. This can discourage teachers from making use of technology as often as they would want to. It's compounded by the fact that, if these teachers are working in schools, they are faced with classes of learners who may, on the surface at least, appear to be more digitally competent than their teachers are. Learners can therefore challenge their teachers, in ways that put the latter off using the technologies that could potentially make such a difference to what happens in the classroom.

How technology can help learners test their skills

In my recent book for the British Council,  Innovations in learning technologies for English language teaching , I argue that digital technologies are ideally placed to help teachers working with learners, and learners working independently, to do the necessary ‘languaging’ ( M. Swain ) that makes their language development possible. We are talking here about doing things with language rather than just learning about language. Swain argues that learners can’t simply develop based on input.  We must engage with other people using that language, and try to make meaning together. Whenever I speak or write something, if I don’t produce language with someone else in mind, I have no way of knowing whether others can understand what I say or write. Of course, I need to read and listen as well, but unless I progress to this further stage, I can’t complete the process.

If we take writing as a starting point, technology in the form of word processors (and the many other ways we now have of producing text) allows us to work at the language. We go through a process of creating and re-creating text until it is fully comprehensible to others and is accurate. We can create a draft, show it to others and, based on feedback, can make changes to improve the text. The tools can also help us by showing that our spelling or grammar needs work, too. Technology makes this much easier, and makes it more likely that learners will engage with the editing process to produce the highest-quality text that they can. This writing can then be displayed for others to look at and comment on.

Trying to find ways for people to do meaningful spoken language practice in a class can be very challenging, particularly if, as a teacher, you lack confidence in your own spoken language skills. Linking your class to other classes around the world, using tools such as video conferencing, can give a reason for a learner to ask a question and then try to understand the response. It might also provide support for the teacher, too. The technology mediates the process, getting language out there and giving feedback that shows whether someone has or hasn’t understood what you have said.

The benefits of technology in language learning that is integrated with project work

Another area that technology supports very effectively is project work. We have always tried to encourage learners to learn about things through language. Getting learners to do work about topics that are of interest to them, or topics that are taught in other parts of the curriculum (sometimes called Content and Language Integrated Learning or CLIL) is a great way to improve their skills. Technology makes this possible wherever you are in the world. Teachers and learners can go online to read or listen to material about different areas of interest, and can then write or speak about what they have discovered, telling others in the class or other classes elsewhere in the world.

In the book, there are plenty of examples of case studies of teachers doing these kinds of activities, so you can see how technology can be effectively used to support the language development process.

The publication   Innovations in learning technologies for English language teaching  was presented at a British Council seminar for English language teachers in the UK yesterday. Book your seat at our  next seminar  in the UK.

You might also be interested in:

  • Teaching English online – opportunities and pitfalls
  • Mobile learning: improve your English anytime, anywhere

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Learning English as a Foreign Language Writing Skills in Collaborative Settings: A Cognitive Load Perspective

1 School of Foreign Languages and Literature, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China

Slava Kalyuga

2 School of Education, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Associated Data

The raw data supporting the conclusions of this article will be made available by the authors, without undue reservation.

Learning to write in a foreign language is a complex cognitive process. The process-genre approach is a common instructional practice adopted by language teachers to develop learners’ writing abilities. However, the interacting elements of procedural knowledge, linguistic knowledge, and generic knowledge in this approach may exceed the capacity of an individual learner’s working memory, thus actually hindering the acquisition of writing skills. According to the collective working memory effect, it was hypothesized that teaching writing skills of English as a foreign language by adopting a process-genre approach in collaborative conditions could lead to better writing performance, lower cognitive load, and higher instructional efficiency. The reported experiment compared learning writing skills of English as a foreign language in individual and collaborative instructional conditions from a cognitive load perspective, a rarely adopted approach in this field. The results indicated that the collaborative instructional condition was more effective and efficient than the individual instructional condition in improving the quality of written products as well as in optimizing the cognitive (working memory) load experienced by the learners. Measures of cognitive load were used to support the cognitive load theory’s interpretation of the results, which is the unique contribution of this research study to the field.

Introduction

Learning to write in a foreign language is a complex problem-solving process, requiring not only a range of skills from writing English letters to composing complete essays but also the ability to make claims and provide appropriate supporting details ( Kirkland and Saunders, 1991 ; Bruning and Horn, 2010 ; Howell et al., 2018 ). Students need to develop the skills of generating, organizing, and refining ideas by being involved in complex activities, such as brainstorming, discussing, outlining, drafting, monitoring, and revising ( Raimes, 1992 ; Hyland, 2003a ). Cognitive load theory aims at designing effective instructional materials and procedures to facilitate learners’ acquisition of complex knowledge and skills based on the mechanisms of human cognitive architecture ( Van Merriënboer and Sweller, 2005 ; Sweller et al., 2011 ). According to this theory, learners can build new knowledge about writing processes not only with the help of explicit formal instruction or through personal reading but also using problem solving via individual or collaborative efforts (through personal introspection or pair/group discussions).

The collective working memory effect in cognitive load theory refers to the working memory space created by communicating and coordinating knowledge by each collaborator ( Kirschner et al., 2011 , 2018 ; Sweller et al., 2011 ). An individual who studies alone processes all the interacting elements of the instructional material in his or her working memory. By contrast, under a collaborative learning condition, all the interactive elements can be distributed among the working memories of group members. This effect allows a better understanding of cognitive processes in collaborative learning environments and the conditions under which such environments provide more efficient instructional options.

However, to our best knowledge, differences between the effectiveness of individual and collaborative instructional approaches in learning writing skills of English as a foreign language from a cognitive load perspective have never been investigated ( Kirschner et al., 2011 , 2018 ). Moreover, despite that collaborative writing as a teaching strategy has been actively implemented in foreign language classrooms since the 1990s ( McDonough, 2004 ; Shehadeh, 2011 ), the issue of how developing writing skills in collaborative settings impact learners’ cognitive characteristics has not been investigated extensively. In addition, more empirical research should be done to examine how learners in collaborative learning conditions would perform on individual writing tasks rather than on co-authoring tasks in the post-intervention phase ( Storch, 2005 ; Chen, 2019 ). Accordingly, the experimental study reported in this paper was conducted in an attempt to fill these gaps.

Models and Approaches to Teaching Writing Skills

Cognitive model of writing processes.

Writing involves a range of cognitive activities. Flower and Hayes (1981) proposed a cognitive model of writing processes, which regarded writing as a decision-making process, consisting of a range of cognitive activities orchestrated in cyclical or recursive rather than linear orders ( Racelis and Matsuda, 2013 ). Flower and Hayes (1981) argued that a writing process “involves three major elements which are reflected in the three units of the model: the task environment, the writer’s long-term memory, and the writing process” (p. 369). This cognitive model generally corresponds to the three phases of writing: planning, translating, and revising phases. The three cognitive processes do not necessarily appear in a linear order but can happen at any moment in the writing process ( Berninger et al., 1996 ; Baaijen and Galbraith, 2018 , p. 196). Jones (2014) highlighted that the cognitive model of writing processes emphasized the functions of planning (i.e., generating ideas) and translating ideas into texts. Even though Flower and Hayes (1981) stressed that the three types of cognitive activities were recursive, they did not identify the “distinctions involving the temporal dimensions (before, during, or after translation) and spatial dimensions on which the planning and reviewing/revising processes operate (whole text or a portion of it)” ( Berninger et al., 1996 , p. 198). The distinctions are of great significance to instructions as an awareness of stages or phases in writing could help learners internalize the phases of writing, which was evidenced in Jones’ (2014) study that some of the participants were not fully aware of making distinctions between planning and translating while others were struggled with how to organize ideas in the writing process. It can be assumed that explicit instruction in planning and organizing ideas in the pre-writing stage could improve writing quality. Orchestrating the cognitive activities into stages or phases in this study attempted to actualize these abstract activities for instructional purposes. However, as Bizzell (1982) and Atkinson (2003) noted, this post-cognitivist approach to writing may neglect the genre nature of writings—shared features of texts shaped through social conventions. Therefore, it is of equal significance to teach genre knowledge when adopting the cognitive model of writing processes in teaching writing skills.

Approaches to Teaching Writing Skills

The genre approach and process approach to teaching writing skills have been used extensively to promote learners’ abilities to write in English ( Hyland, 2003a , b ; Muncie, 2009 ; Keen, 2020 ). The process-based approach in writing instruction, which was introduced in the 1980s, usually consists of four stages: prewriting, writing, revising, and editing ( Tribble, 1996 ). Participants in Keen’s (2020) study adopted a process approach to learning skills: discussing topics in small groups, writing ideas about the topic, writing first drafts, carrying out peer reviews, writing second drafts, and sharing their accounts with the whole class. It was found that the participants developed a sense of ownership and learned how to write more effectively. Even though Keen (2020) used young learners of English as a first language as research subjects, he identified the beneficial role of procedural learning in cultivating students’ writing abilities. However, it should be noted that such approaches demonstrate “how some writers write, they do not reveal why they make certain linguistic and rhetorical choices” ( Hyland, 2003b , p. 19), as the process-based approach “is seen as predominantly to do with linguistic skills such as planning and drafting, and there is much less emphasis on linguistic knowledge” ( Badger and White, 2000 , p. 154). In a response, ( Hyland, 2003b , 2008 ) put forward a genre-based approach to teach writing skills, in which genre is conceptualized as “a term for grouping texts together, representing how writers typically use language to respond to recurring situations” (p. 544). The genre-based approach emphasizes explicit instructions for communicative purposes, key language features, and structural patterns.

Graham and Sandmel (2011) advised that “advocates of process writing instruction integrate other effective writing practices into this approach” (p. 405). Researchers (e.g., Flowerdew, 1993 ; Badger and White, 2000 ) have endeavored to integrate the process-approach and genre-based approach in teaching writing skills of English as a foreign language as the two approaches could be mutually complementary ( Raimes, 1991 ; Badger and White, 2000 ; Racelis and Matsuda, 2013 ; Deng et al., 2014 ; Huang and Zhang, 2020 ; Jiang et al., 2021 ; Rahimi and Zhang, 2021 ). For example, Flowerdew (1993) introduced a process consisting of six types of activities to explicitly teach the process of learning specific genres. Badger and White (2000) proposed the process-genre approach to teaching writing skills, which consists of several stages starting from understanding a situation to completing a draft. By process-genre approach, Badger and White (2000) emphasized the significant roles of language skills, situational knowledge, and processes in cultivating writing abilities. Learning to write also means learning the techniques of self-regulating cognitive activities and procedures. Students who learn how to regulate the writing procedures collaboratively could transfer the knowledge when writing independently ( Teng, 2020 ).

Learning English Writing Skills Through Collaboration

Taking a social stance, a process-genre approach to teaching writing skills encourages interactions and collaborations, which involves some kinds of collaborative activities such as “modeling, eliciting, supporting, probing, and suggesting alternatives or extension” to a learner’s initial attempts ( Wette, 2017 , p. 72). Dillenbourg (1999) and Prince (2004) defined collaborative learning as an instructional method through which students work together in small groups to pursue common learning or writing goals. Although collaborative learning, in general, has a long history of research, learning writing skills through collaboration was not actively implemented in foreign language classrooms until the late 1990s ( McDonough, 2004 ). Learning writing skills through collaboration, with a primary aim of learning curricular content, focuses on both deconstruction and construction processes ( Karnes et al., 1997 ). Granado-Peinado et al. (2019) found that participants who received collaborative practice and explicit instructions about writing synthesis identified more proportions of arguments and higher levels of integration of different sources than those in the collaborative practice conditions without instructions about writing synthesis. However, their research showed that providing collaboration opportunities does not sufficiently warrant effective learning, which also needs not only guides about how to collaborate but also explicit instructions about learning tasks. Accordingly, Teng (2020) investigated the effect of collaboratively modeling text structure and explicitly teaching self-regulated strategies on younger English learners’ abilities to write summarizations and essays. After 1-month intervention, it was found that participants who adopted self-regulated strategies and collaboratively modeled text structures demonstrated better performance than the participants in the control group in terms of the three measurements. It should be noted that the available research studies have reported mixed results about whether learning writing skills through collaborations could effectively improve the quality of written products or not ( McDonough, 2004 ; McDonough and De Vleeschauwer, 2019 ; Matos, 2021 ). For example, some studies (e.g., Storch, 2005 ; Fernández Dobao, 2012 ; Hsu and Lo, 2018 ) indicated that texts written by collaborative learners were more grammatically accurate than those by individual ones. However, it has also been reported that learners in the individual learning conditions produced more syntactically complex text than collaborative learners ( McDonough et al., 2018 ). The divergent findings in the collaborative learning of writing skills can be related to the following three issues: the lack of explicit collaborative tasks in the learning phases, not considering cognitive aspects in the experimental designs, and not evaluating individual writing outcomes. Accordingly, Kirschner et al. (2009) recommended that research in collaborative learning should directly measure learning outcomes in a test condition, focus on one aspect of the learning goals at a time, and investigate the performance of individual learners instead of the group as a whole. They also advocated that research studies need to consider human cognitive architecture to better understand and compare individual and collaborative learning. In addition, ( Berninger et al., 1996 ) noted that “working memory, and not only long-term memory, is involved in writing development” (p. 199), as the cognitive activities in relation to the task environment and writing process should be carried out in working memory.

Cognitive Load Theory

Cognitive load theory aims at designing effective instructional materials and procedures to optimize learner cognitive resources in the process of acquiring complex knowledge structures ( Sweller, 2010 ; Sweller et al., 2011 ). Cognitive load refers to the working memory resources needed for completing a particular learning task. Theoretically, learners may experience two types of cognitive load: intrinsic cognitive load and extraneous cognitive load ( Van Merriënboer and Sweller, 2005 ; Sweller et al., 2011 ). Intrinsic cognitive load is defined as the working memory resources demanded by the innate complexity of information that a learner must learn ( Sweller, 2010 ). Extraneous cognitive load, conceptualized as the working memory load that is unnecessary and extrinsic to instructional goals, is generated by the presentation manner and structure of the instructional material ( Van Merriënboer and Sweller, 2005 ; Sweller et al., 2011 ).

The level of cognitive load experienced by the learners is determined by the level of element interactivity which refers to the degree to which information elements or components of a learning task should be processed simultaneously for meaningful learning ( Sweller et al., 2011 ). For example, learning new vocabularies in a list can be considered as low in element interactivity, as individual vocabularies can be acquired without reference to other information in the list. By contrast, most writing tasks have high levels of element interactivity, as the writing process involves a relatively large number of interconnected elements of information, as well as cognitive, metacognitive, and socio-affective activities ( Negari, 2011 ).

The levels of cognitive load that learners experience can be measured by subjective rating scales of effort, a simple and reliable instrument first adopted by Paas (1992) . In this type of rating method, learners were asked to recall, reflect, and report the level of mental effort during their previous learning after they completed instructional activities. Even though subjective rating scales were capable of measuring the overall cognitive load, researchers also needed information about the levels of particular types of cognitive load that learners experience ( Paas et al., 2003 ; DeLeeuw and Mayer, 2008 ). Leppink et al. (2013) proposed a more recent version of subjective rating scales: three items on intrinsic cognitive load, three items on extraneous cognitive load, and four items on germane cognitive load. However, the results of confirmatory factor analysis in Jiang and Kalyuga’s (2020) study showed that the two-factor (intrinsic and extraneous) model was an acceptable fit. Therefore, the cognitive load rating questionnaire in this study, which was developed on the basis of Leppink et al.’s (2013) version, adopted the two-factor model.

Cognitive load ratings are frequently combined with learning performance measures to calculate the relative instructional efficiency for different learning environments. Instructional efficiency in this study was calculated using Paas and van Merriënboer’s (1993) formula E = ( P-R )/√ 2 , in which E stands for efficiency, P for performance z-score, and R for cognitive load rating z-score. In this study, the average of intrinsic cognitive load and extraneous cognitive load ratings were used to calculate the cognitive load z-score. According to this formula, higher values of instructional efficiency are achieved in situations where learning performance is high and cognitive load is low; lower values of instructional efficiency occur under conditions where learning performance is low and cognitive load is high.

Collective Working Memory Effect

Cognitive load theory considers a social interaction situation as a collective working memory system and extends the instructional focus from individual learning to collaborative learning. A collective working memory system can be developed from individual cognitive systems through collaboration, coordination, and communication. The collective working memory effect happens when learners acquire knowledge more effectively and efficiently through collaborating with others than through learning individually ( Sweller et al., 2011 ). The collective working memory space constituted by multiple working memories has a larger capacity and longer duration than any of the constituents in individual working memories. This concept was supported by Dillenbourg (1999) who argued that in the collaborative conditions, “the horizontal division of labor into, for instance, task-level and strategy-level tasks, reduces the amounts of processing performed by each individual” (p. 10). Villarreal and Gil-Sarratea (2019) found that the texts produced by pairs were more accurate and grammatically complex than those by individual learners. They attributed the difference partially to collective scaffolding.

Collective working memory refers to the working memory space created by communicating and coordinating knowledge by each collaborator ( Kirschner et al., 2018 ). An individual who studies alone processes all the interacting elements of the instructional material in his or her working memory. By contrast, under a collaborative learning condition, all the interactive elements can be distributed among the working memories of group members. The multiple working memories constitute a collective working memory space that has a larger capacity and longer duration than individual working memory. As a result, an individual learner in the collaborative instructional condition may experience lower levels of the cognitive load than a learner who studies alone. The collective working memory effect, a recently developed cognitive load theory effect, occurs when learners learn better through collaborating with other learners than through learning alone ( Sweller et al., 2011 ). This effect assumes that “students working in groups have more processing capacity than students working individually” ( Janssen et al., 2010 , p. 139). Even though interacting with group members in the collaborative learning condition may generate extraneous cognitive load, the interactive process should be beneficial as elaborating and eliciting could result in forming more advanced knowledge ( Dillenbourg, 1999 ).

Under the individual learning condition, all the interacting elements of the learning task are processed in the individual learner’s working memory. By contrast, learners who collaborate with others in their learning distribute all the interactive elements among the working memories of group members. Consequently, a collaborator would experience lower levels of the cognitive load than an individual learner. This assumption was supported by Zhang et al. (2011) , who compared the effectiveness of collaborative and individual instructional approaches in learning the complex tasks of designing web pages. They found that the participants in the collaborative learning condition demonstrated better performance and experienced a lower level of the cognitive load than the individual learners.

Task complexity or element interactivity can influence the effectiveness of collaborative learning. For simple learning tasks, individual learning is expected to be more effective and efficient, as the transaction costs associated with sharing knowledge and coordinating communication will nullify the benefits offered by collaborative learning. By contrast, for complex tasks, the benefits offered by the collective working memory could be higher than the transaction costs, thus fostering efficient learning. Kirschner et al. (2009) found that individual learners performed better in remembering biological knowledge (simple tasks) than learners in collaborative conditions, whereas collaborative learners performed better in transferring the skills to solving similar problems (complex tasks) than individual learners. Similar findings were reported by Kirschner et al. (2011) who found that learning low-complexity biological tasks individually was more effective and efficient while learning high-complexity tasks benefited more from the collaborative approach.

Experimental Study

Learning writing skills of English as a foreign language has long been regarded as a complex process that usually generates a heavy cognitive load ( Vanderberg and Swanson, 2007 ; Kellogg, 2008 ). Based on the review of literature on cognitive load theory and writing learning, the study was conducted to examine the following research hypotheses:

  • (1) Participants taught through the process-genre approach in the collaborative learning condition would demonstrate better individual writing performances than participants in the individual learning condition.
  • (2) Participants taught through the process-genre approach in the collaborative learning condition would experience lower levels of the cognitive load than participants in the individual learning condition.

The reported experiment focused on the effect of collaboration in creating a collective working memory among the members of a group. Previous research studies seldom included controlled randomized experiments and assessed learners’ writing products as a means to evaluate the effectiveness of collaborative learning. Therefore, according to the collective working memory effect, the reported experiment was designed to test the hypotheses that learners of English as a foreign language in the collaborative process-genre instructional condition would achieve better individual learning outcomes in terms of writing skills, experience lower levels of cognitive load, and have higher instructional efficiency than learners in the individual process-genre instructional condition.

Materials and Methods

Participants.

The study adopted a purposive convenience sampling method; 64 undergraduate students (29 females) voluntarily participated in this experiment after reading the recruitment notice. They studied at a technological university in Shandong Province, China. They were also briefed about the aims, the procedures, their rights through the study, and their rights to access the research results. They were requested to return the signed consent form if they determined to participate. These college students were on average 21.5 years old and had spent 11 years learning English as a foreign language at the time of the experiment, so they could be regarded as having an intermediate level of English proficiency. They were randomly allocated into the individual learning condition (IL) ( n = 32) and the collaborative learning condition (CL) ( n = 32). The participants in the collaborative learning condition were further randomly allocated into eight groups with four members in each. This arrangement was based on the rationale that groups consisting of no more than six members could maximize participation by all group members ( Herner et al., 2002 ).

The participants were required to write an essay as a pretest. The design of the pretest was based on Task 2 of the writing section in International English Language Test System (IELTS): General Training . Two independent raters examined their writings by complying with the IELTS writing band descriptors . These raters were proficient IELTS tutors with experience in applying the band descriptors in evaluating IELTS essays. An independent samples t -test indicated that the pre-test scores of the IL group ( M = 5.16, SD = 0.91) were not significantly different from the CL group ( M = 5.00, SD = 1.02), t (58) = 0.61, p > 0.05.

The instructional material was about how to write complaint letters. The development of the teaching material was based on the book The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS authored by Cullen et al. (2014) . The experimental materials included four teaching components (structural features teaching, language features teaching, model essay teaching, and essay planning teaching), one essay planning phase, one testing phase (essay writing), and one subjective cognitive load rating phase ( Appendix ).

The instruction was delivered in seven phases (see Figure 1 ). The participants in the individual learning condition were allocated to a lecture room. Each participant sat with at least 1-m distance from other participants to prevent collaboration and interference. The 84-member CL instructional groups were put in one lecture room. Each group kept a distance of at least 5 m from other groups to prevent collaboration and interference between groups, if any. The participants in the IL condition were required to complete all the seven phases individually; on the other hand, the participants in the CL condition completed the first five learning phases collaboratively, but the last two phases were completed independently. Associated questions were provided for thinking (for individual learners) and discussing (for collaborative learners) as Proske and Kapp (2013) argued that “learning questions might also be suitable to support the construction of a richly interconnected situation model of a writing topic which in turn may allow writers to produce better text products” (p. 1340). As it was generally believed that cognitive activities involved in writing procedures were recursive and dynamic ( Flower and Hayes, 1981 ), the participants were reminded that they did not necessarily treat the phases as absolute linear orders and had the freedom to revisit the previous phase or skip to next one when they feel necessary.

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Seven phases of the research study.

The first part of the instructional materials (10 min) introduced the purposes and structural features of complaint letters, as well as the functions of each structural component. The structural features of complaint letters covered in this study include the following: the introductory paragraph elicits the purpose of complaint letters; the body paragraphs elaborate on the problems that letters are about and the suggested solutions; and the conclusion paragraph generally states the expectations and closes the letter. The associated questions for thinking (for individual learners) and discussion (for collaborative learners) were: How do structural features reflect communicative purposes? and Are there alternative structures for this genre? The second part (10 min) elaborated on the common language features of complaint letters, such as phrases and sentence structures for specifying the problem, outlining the consequences, making and justifying a specific claim, and so on, with the questions for thinking and discussion being: Are there alternative ways to give reasons and solutions? By using graphic organizers, the third part (10 min) showed the essential steps in planning writing. The question for introspection and discussion in this phase was: If there exist alternative structures, how can these steps in essay planning be adapted to suit those structures? The fourth part (15 min) introduced a model letter, in which the participants were required to identify the structural features, explain the functions of each feature, and the language features that were used for achieving the purposes. The associated questions in this phase were: What tenses have been used mainly in each paragraph? and Why tenses were used in these ways? The fifth instructional phase (10 min) required the participants to plan a letter on a given topic and scenario. In these five phases, the participants in the collaborative instructional conditions were encouraged to learn the materials through collaboration, share their understandings, ask questions, and provide responses, while the individual learners were encouraged to talk to themselves or engage in an internal conversation. In the sixth phase (15 min), the participants were required to individually write a letter on the topic they discussed in the fifth phase by using the skills learned in the first four phases. The last phase of the experiment (5 min) was a subjective cognitive load rating questionnaire ( Appendix ).

Traditionally, subjective ratings of working memory load have proven to be able to collect reliable and valid estimations of mental load in a non-intrusive way ( Jiang and Kalyuga, 2020 ). The cognitive load rating questionnaire was developed from the questionnaires designed by Leppink et al. (2013) , with the first six items on intrinsic cognitive load and the last six items on extraneous cognitive load. The questionnaire was written in Chinese, the research participants’ first language. The participants were asked to evaluate the appropriateness of a certain aspect of the instructional design that could orchestrate their mental resources to facilitate learning by choosing a number on a Likert-type scale, ranging from 0 (not at all the case) to 10 (completely the case). In addition, the instructor was available to clarify and explain puzzles and queries, if any.

The quality of the letters was assessed according to the IELTS General Training Writing Task 1: Writing band descriptors published by the British Council. The band descriptors cover four categories: task achievement, coherence and cohesion, lexical resource, and grammatical range and accuracy. Each category has the 9-point scale, ranging from one to nine. Each letter was given one score for each category, and the sum of the scores in the four categories was the rater’s score for the letter. The highest mark for a letter was 36. Two independent raters assessed students’ letters. The average value of two raters’ markings was used as the final score of the letter. The inter-rater reliability was calculated using a Person intra-class correlation (ICC). The ICC measure of 0.92 indicated a high degree of inter-rater reliability.

Table 1 shows means and standard deviations of the letter scores, the scores of each category, the ratings of intrinsic, extraneous, and overall cognitive load, and the instructional efficiency for the two instructional conditions. The reliability of the subjective cognitive load rating scale as measured by Cronbach’s alpha was 0.76.

Means and standard deviations for essay writing performance scores, individual category score, subjective ratings of cognitive load, and instructional efficiency for two instructional groups.

An analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was conducted to compare the two instructional groups’ letter scores, scores of each subcategory, the ratings of intrinsic cognitive load, extraneous cognitive load, and overall cognitive load, as well as the indicators of instructional efficiency. Levene’s test was conducted ( p > 0.05) and the assumptions were satisfied. After controlling for the effect of pretest, it was found that the participants in the CL instructional condition demonstrated significantly better letter writing performance [ F (1, 61) = 27.40, p = 0.001, partialη 2 = 0.31] and significantly higher instructional efficiency [ F (1, 61) = 31.97, p = 0.001, partialη 2 = 0.34] than those in the IL instructional condition. In terms of category scores, the learners in the CL teaching condition significantly outperformed those learners in the IL teaching condition in all the four subscales: task achievement [ F (1, 61) = 15.72, p = 0.001, partialη 2 = 0.21], coherence and cohesion [ F (1, 61) = 30.64, p = 0.001, partialη 2 = 0.33], lexical resource [ F (1, 61) = 17.86, p = 0.001, partialη 2 = 0.23], as well as grammatical range and accuracy [ F (1, 61) = 41.76, p = 0.001, d = 0.41]. The participants in the IL instructional condition experienced significantly higher levels of intrinsic cognitive load [ F (1, 61) = 7.68, p = 0.007, partialη 2 = 0.11], significantly higher levels of extraneous cognitive load [ F (1, 61) = 5.83, p = 0.020, partialη 2 = 0.09], and significantly higher levels of overall cognitive load [ F (1, 61) = 12.02, p = 0.001, partialη 2 = 0.17] than the participants in the CL condition.

The covariate, which is pretest in the study, was significantly related to the letter writing performance, which means that the participants in the CL condition had significantly better performance than the students in the IL condition in terms of the overall scores [ F (1, 61) = 143.44, p = 0.001, r = 0.84] as well as the four subscales: task achievement [ F (1, 61) = 127.86, p = 0.001, r = 0.81], coherence and cohesion [ F (1, 61) = 128.09, p = 0.001, r = 0.82], lexical resource [ F (1, 61) = 125.52, p = 0.001, r = 0.82], and grammatical range and accuracy [ F (1,61) = 146.29, p = 0.001, r = 0.84]. In addition, cognitive load ratings and instructional efficiency were related to the covariate, pretest. The correlation to the covariate, pretests, was also observed in intrinsic cognitive load, overall cognitive load, and instructional efficiency. Students in the CL instructional condition had lower cognitive load ratings and higher instructional efficiency than the participants in the IL condition: intrinsic cognitive load [ F (1, 61) = 5.49, p = 0.02, r = 0.28], overall cognitive load [ F (1, 61) = 4.58, p = 0.036, r = 0.07], and instructional efficiency [ F (1, 61) = 62.88, p = 0.001, r = 0.51]. However, it should be noted that the covariate, pretest, was not significantly related to extraneous cognitive load [ F (1, 61) = 0.42, p > 0.05], which indicates that the differences in participants’ perception of extraneous cognitive load could be largely attributed to the dependent variable, instructional conditions.

The reported experiment was conducted to test the hypotheses generated by cognitive load theory that learners of English as a foreign language in a collaborative instructional condition would show better writing performance, lower levels of cognitive load, and higher instructional efficiency than learners in an individual learning condition. Even though relations to the covariate, pretest, were observed, the results of the study generally supported the hypotheses. As for the first hypothesis, this randomized experimental study found that the students in the collaborative learning condition demonstrated higher overall post-test letter writing scores and higher subcategory scores (task achievement, coherence and cohesion, lexical resource, as well as grammatical range and accuracy) than the participants in the individual learning condition. The second research hypothesis was also supported as the participants in the collaborative learning condition indicated lower overall cognitive load ratings than the participants in the individual learning condition. It was also found that the collaborative learning condition generated higher instructional efficiency in terms of developing writing skills than the individual learning condition. Moderate and significant negative correlations were found between the ratings of intrinsic cognitive load and the letter-writing performance scores for both instructional conditions. The results demonstrated the collective working memory effect ( Kirschner et al., 2009 , 2018 ; Sweller et al., 2011 ) in the domain of learning writing skills by learners of English as a foreign language. As predicted by cognitive load theory, in the case of complex learning tasks such as writing in a foreign language, the benefits of collective working memory exceeded the possible disadvantages of dealing with transaction costs involved in coordinating individual working memories.

First, the study contributed to the research area of writing in a foreign language by conceptualizing the research and interpreting the findings from the perspective of cognitive load theory. In an attempt to account for the role of specific cognitive mechanisms in improving writing performance, it is possible to assume that the collaborative instructional approach had created an effective pool of knowledge about language and a pool of cognitive resources that beneficially influenced the quality of written products ( Storch, 2005 ; Strobl, 2014 ). The interactions in collaborative instructional conditions could trigger more learning-relevant cognitive mechanisms, for example, knowledge elaboration and internalization which are essential for meaningful and effective learning. These learning mechanisms could enable learners to organize information into ordered structures and integrate new information with prior knowledge structures ( Dillenbourg, 1999 ; Kalyuga, 2009 ). In the process of collaborative learning, theme-related knowledge structures would be retrieved from learners’ long-term memory and function collectively as distributed cognition including “internal minds, external representations, and interactions among individuals” ( Klein and Leacock, 2011 , p. 133). The distributed cognition could evolve through members’ contributions using stating claims, supporting or challenging others’ opinions, providing supporting details, and so on. The mental activities in sharing, understanding, and negotiating meaning involve expressive or introspective elaborations, resulting in conceptual changes in group members ( Dillenbourg, 1999 ). As more sources of information come to the group memory, learners would exercise more knowledge elaborations to establish links between new information and the existing knowledge structures, leading to better performance measures. The multiple learning phases in the collaborative conditions offered collaborators more opportunities to use the language-related episodes (LRE) and task-related episodes, which were supposed to benefit their writing.

Second, the findings are consistent with the collective working memory effect, in that learning English as a foreign language writing skills in the collaborative instructional condition is more effective and efficient than in the individual learning condition ( Kirschner et al., 2009 ; Retnowati et al., 2018 ). As learning tasks used for teaching English as a foreign language writing skills are high in element interactivity, and multiple factors (such as linguistic and situational knowledge, understanding of audience and purposes, etc.) affect the learning process, it can be assumed that the participants in each collaborative group would provide collective scaffolding, resulting in learning more sophisticated writing skills in terms of lexical accuracy, grammatical complexity, logic organization, and so on, in the learning phases and consequently in the better performance of these learners in the testing phase than the participants in the individual learning condition.

In addition, this study also indicates that adopting a process-genre approach in a collaborative condition could lead to significantly better writing performance than in an individual learning condition, which is particularly consistent with research studies on developing self-regulation of writing processes and generic knowledge through collaborations (e.g., Graham and Sandmel, 2011 ; Jones, 2014 ; Wette, 2017 ; Villarreal and Gil-Sarratea, 2019 ; Teng, 2020 ). According to the genre approach to teaching writing skills, effective instructional practices should “offer writers an explicit understanding of how texts in target genres are structured,” teach “the lexico-grammatical patterns which typically occur in its different stages,” and cultivate writers to command “an awareness of target genres and an explicit grammar of linguistic choices” ( Hyland, 2003b , p. 26). However, if all lexical, syntactical, structural, and logical contents were taught without appropriate sequencing and prioritizing, high levels of cognitive load could be generated. Therefore, segmenting a learning task into several phases can ameliorate the complexity of information as the number of interacting elements would be reduced. For example, in a controlled randomized experiment, Klein and Ehrhardt (2015) found that organizing instructional tasks into manageable parts helped learners generate more balanced claims and reduced high-achieving students’ cognitive load in writing persuasion texts as measured by the perceived difficulty of their learning.

Furthermore, the results of the reported study are also consistent with previous research in the field of collaborative learning of writing skills (e.g., Shehadeh, 2011 ; McDonough et al., 2018 ), in that the learners in the collaborative instructional condition had better qualities of prewriting/writing performance than the learners in the individual instructional condition. Still, this study contributed to the area of collaborative writing research in two novel ways. First, differently from most of the previous research which required all learners in a collaborative group to write a common single text, this study required every member in a collaborative condition to write a separate text, and the quality of individual texts was assessed to compare the effectiveness of individual and collaborative learning conditions on the same grounds. This method of measuring learning gains by assessing the quality of individual writing products is more valid and reliable according to Kirschner et al. (2009) , as it better fits the learning goals. Second, the use of subjective ratings of participants’ cognitive load in learning and the calculation of instructional efficiency provided additional evidence to support a cognitive load interpretation of the results as the case of the collective working memory effect.

The reported study still has some limitations that require further research. First, this study did not consider the foreign language proficiency of the participants as a variable in collaborative teaching of English as a foreign language writing skill. According to the expertise reversal effect in cognitive load theory, the effectiveness of specific instructional techniques and procedures depends on the levels of the learner’s prior knowledge in the domain ( Kalyuga et al., 2003 ; Kalyuga, 2007 ; Sweller et al., 2011 ). This effect has been demonstrated with all other instructional methods developed by cognitive load theory. It is likely that this effect also applies to the collective working memory effect. For example, Storch (2011) claimed that second language proficiency should be taken into consideration in implementing collaborative learning of writing skills. Therefore, future research studies may need to recruit learners at different proficiency (prior knowledge) levels to investigate possible interactions between levels of learner expertise in the area of English as a foreign language writing skills and the effectiveness of individual versus collaborative learning conditions. Second, this study examined the effectiveness of learning approaches (individual or collaborative) by primarily assessing the quality of learning products (i.e., essay). Future studies need to consider and measure other possible contributing factors and performance indicators, such as interactions in the writing processes, the quality of jointly drafted essays, and learners’ perceptions. In addition, as a way to manifest how collaborative learning affects the development of collective memory, future research should record and analyze learners’ interactions during the collaborative learning phases. Furthermore, more research should be done to investigate how learners develop their writing skills in other genres (such as argumentative, informative, and descriptive ones) in individual and collaborative instructional conditions.

In conclusion, the results of the reported experimental study supported the hypothesis generated by cognitive load theory. Learning English as a foreign language writing skills through a process-genre approach in the collaborative instructional condition was more effective and efficient than in the individual instructional condition. Subjective ratings of the cognitive load supported the interpretation of results within a cognitive load framework. The findings have implications for the innovations of teaching approaches, the developments of course materials, and curriculum designs in the field of teaching foreign language writing skills.

Data Availability Statement

Ethics statement.

Ethical review and approval was not required for the study on human participants in accordance with the local legislation and institutional requirements. The patients/participants provided their written informed consent to participate in this study.

Author Contributions

DJ: conceptualization, methodology, resources, data curation, writing – original draft, and review and editing. SK: supervision and writing – review and editing. Both authors contributed to the article and approved the submitted version.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Publisher’s Note

All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article, or claim that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.

Subjective Rating of Cognitive Load

All of the following questions refer to the learning activity that you just finished. Please respond to each of the questions on the following scale (0 meaning not at all the case and 10 meaning completely the case).

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    Sample Answer 1. Learning a second language or a foreign language is linked to many advantages that far surpass the sole reasons of learning a new language for travelling or working in a foreign land. However, for the sake of playing the devil's advocate, I'll say that some people belonging to a different school of thought consider better ...

  17. IELTS Writing Task 2: 'language learning' topic

    Nowadays, foreign languages are just as important as native language for communication. It is very essential to learn a foreign language especially the English for non-English speaker countries to make their life better and easier in this globalization era. Several Specialists trust that primary school is suitable for learn a foreign language.

  18. Learning a Foreign Language Essays

    essay comments - learning a foreign language at primary school Essay. by: Helen ESL. Generally, the grammar in this essay does not have errors that would cause strain for the reader. Also, there is a wide range of vocabulary used and the structure and tone appropriate.

  19. Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language

    As such, learning a foreign language essentially strengthens your brain's memory as it forces it to recall newly learned information, the brain is then required to associate this information with mnemonics resulting in better retention. 5. Gives the mind a slight information processing edge. Learning a new language can prove to be a rather ...

  20. The benefits of new technology in language learning

    Gary Motteram, editor of the British Council publication Innovations in learning technologies for English language teaching, explains how the arrival of digital technologies in the classroom has helped learning.. Technology is very much part of language learning throughout the world at all different levels. We are as likely to find it in the primary sector as much as in adult education.

  21. italki

    ESSAY - Learning Foreign Language is very useful for young people today. Learning Foreign Language is very useful for young people today It is known by everyone that nowdays English is the most common language in the world.

  22. IELTS Writing Task 2 Sample 64

    However, learning a second language is not easy and takes time, which is why it is suggested that everyone should start learning a foreign language from the very beginning of their academic life. Being able to speak more than one language would bring many opportunities, not to mention the freedom to choose a future career path in a developed ...

  23. Learning English as a Foreign Language Writing Skills in Collaborative

    Introduction. Learning to write in a foreign language is a complex problem-solving process, requiring not only a range of skills from writing English letters to composing complete essays but also the ability to make claims and provide appropriate supporting details (Kirkland and Saunders, 1991; Bruning and Horn, 2010; Howell et al., 2018).Students need to develop the skills of generating ...