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Italian is also spoken like it is written. All kids should learn another language. In Europe many people are bi-lingual. They start learning another language in the 2nd grade, then they pick up another in middle school. The more languages the better.
Spanish is the easiest language to learn. The main reason it is easy, is because you pronounce the words the same way you write them. Besides, Spanish is the most spoken language in this country after English. However, students should have different choices because in America we have people that speak other languages, and would like their children to learn their language.
Living here in California we see a very diverse group of children in the public schools and my experience over the past 25 years tells me that the best way is bilingual & children need to learn the heritage language (home) first so that they always have a strong connection to their extended family....I am a strong advocate for biliteracy....children should learn to fully read, write, calculate, & of course become proficient orally as well. I would say that it is very important for biingual children to learn a third language, whether the language is Asian or Middle Eastern in origin ....we need global communication expertise!
The questions asks "what is the most practical language ..."
Considering what we often see, English needs to be much better learned!
I chose Spanish because except for English, that is the predominant first language spoken in the area I live. (California)
It doesn't matter too much which language a student learns first after his/her native one.
Learning the first foreign language is always the most difficult, because one has to learn both the language itself and how to learn a language. After that, subsequent languages can be picked up much more easily. My own experience was that after extensive formal instruction in French and minimal formal instruction in German, I picked up five other languages on my own, two of which I speak pretty well now, and from one of which I published a book translation into English.
First and foremost,all students should know English,real English,not "textspeak"or ghetto slang. I have had students answer questions on an assignment with "idk" or some other made up language.How can one express themselves by using mediocre speaking/writing skills? Our kids aren't dumb, just lazy!
I believe that everyone should learn the language of the country in which they live (or at least make an attempt to learn it. I am the granddaughter of immigrants and my grandparents never fully learned English). Those who know only the language of their country should learn a second language of their choice. If a person (unfortunately not me), has an “ear” for languages they should learn as many as possible. To me “learn” could be interpreted as everything from conversational to reading and writing. In my opinion, as the world shrinks knowing multiple languages will become imperative.
It depends on so many factors. For college bound students, probably French, but any romance language will help. For diplomacy, sports, French again. Most of the times for regular jobs in the U.S., Spanish. For psych majors, German.
Most importantly, learn a second one, then another, then another... English is my second language, but I also have French, Spanish, Greek, Latin, (I know, dead languages..). German, and I am now touching Japanese. My kids know at least three languages , two or three fluently. It allows them to travel and get a lot more real contact with local people.
I teach World Languages and English, and I don't understand the hangup about starting; it improves your mother tongue to learn another language, if anything.
Ultimately, it really doesn't matter which language a student learns. What's important is that they become fluent in a second language. The process helps a student think globally, understand other cultures and value the efforts of those who speak English as a second language. Learning a second language builds confidence, helps kids organize their thoughts, and teaches students to stretch their envelope of confidence.