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I agree! All languages are important! Foreign languages should be part of the core curriculum in all schools beginning at the kindergarten level. In addition, schools should offer a wide variety of languages, not just Spanish!
I agree with several other people who answered. Of course it depends on WHY you are trying / hoping / planning to learn another language. Research in a field is an excellent motivation, travel to many places is a good motivating factor, having a critical view of your own culture and society is perhaps the best and most practical reason.
The language acquisition itself is the most necessary, I'm rehashing what's already said, but the process of learning a second language, as well as a second culture gives you a stereoscopic view of each.
Some concepts in English aren't as commonly used as in other languages, and vice-versa, and by looking at linguistic concepts from a second perspective, a student acquires a depth of knowledge as well as context.
As an example: when very young, one learns many tenses and sentence constructions. Usually, young learners aren't interested in, or have the context to acquire, the technical names for these parts of linguistics, so that aspect is forsaken in favor of teaching a child to use 'I' as a subject rather than 'my', or that 'whom' follows a preposition. By discussing these concepts in second language learning, those concepts: subjective-/possessive-pronouns, or direct-/indirect-object pronouns, are given names, and by extension, made more concrete to an older learner.
I'm an historian competent enough in 3 languages, but let's face it, the most practical language today is Excel. The world works in numbers and spreadsheets, and unless you're fluent in these, it doesn't matter if you're fluent in 10 world languages.
I'm an historian competent in 3 languages, but let's face it: the world comes down to numbers, and the ability to manipulate them using Excel. If you cant do this, it doesn't matter if you're fluent in 10 world languages.
French is second only to English, in terms of the number of countries in which it is spoken/written. You can go just about anywhere in the world, and you will understand what is going on if you know French. So, I vote for French!
Whatever second language a person chooses to learn, it will be a mind-expanding experience. It is so important to teach (children) that other people speak in a different way, have a culture different from ours... I know that learning different languages (personally: French, Spanish, Italian, Latin, Greek, German, Hindi) has made me a more compassionate person. When I teach French, I love that it gives me the opportunity to shape children's/young adults' lives---to make them better, more understanding people.
Though I am a French teacher, I feel it is essential for all Americans to learn a foreign language, regardless of which one. As a culture, we need to expand our horizons and learn that it is NOT "all about us." There is a global market out there from which we can learn and benefit. Combined with studying abroad during college, bi- and trilingual young adults are more marketable in the job market. They are also more empathetic as humans.
I belive Latin is the most practical for any students who lives in a Romance-speaking world. This applies to English as well, even though English is technically a Germanic-Romance hybrid. Latin understanding has been shown to greatly improve preformance on SATs, in English class, (as well as Spanish, Portugese, Italian, French, Romanian, and other Romance languages), and for careers in the Linguistic, Medical, Biological, and Scientific fields. Latin is a wonderful asset that has tragically slipped away from most high schools. I saw a figue a few years ago that stated that the average age of a high school Latin teacher in the United States was 51 years old. Where oh where have the young Latin teachers gone? Are we doomed to fade out, and woe to the young world?
For a child, I think learning a language totally different from his own is more useful in some sense (ie, Chinese or Japanese or Russian (yes it is Indo-European but it has a very elaborate grammar and pronunciation system)). They are much more difficult to pick up as an adult than Spanish, French, Italian.
Schools, parents and students often expend a considerable amount of energy trying to decide which language is the "best" language to learn. The answer in my opinion is ANY lcanguage in addition to your native tongue is a good language to learn. It doesn't matter which one. First, once you go through the langauge-learning experience learning any language becomes easier. Second, the process opens your eyes, mind and heart to a different way of thinking and viewing the world so the language choice itself is almost insignificant. Study a language that is interesting to you. Schools should start programs that they can do well for a sequence of several years. There's no such thing as a "bad" language to learn!