Class doesn’t end when a bell rings; rather, it begins. The world is a textbook to those who learn a second language. They are no longer bound to a one dimensional world. Instead, with every language acquired a new dimension is added to students lives as they become more self-confident and globally aware.
Students at Dunwoody High School have reported that after taking a foreign language they were more self-confident. In the words of Mary Wildner, one of the top 20 students of Dunwoody’s graduating class: “The process of learning another language and any cultural immersion forces you to become more outgoing.”
Students no longer fear the possibility of failure. Rather, they learn from their mistakes and become “more patient,” as Juliana Fritts has realized, with themselves and others learning a new language. Wildner went on to add that “mistakes are embarrassing, but you have to practice in order to learn the language.”
Annie Lashinsky, who attended the Governor’s Honors Program this past summer for German, noticed that “learning a language makes you better understand all other school subjects,” she added that “It’s like math because there are rules you follow, then it’s like social sciences because there are exceptions.” Not only have second languages helped students learn from mistakes, but they have also allowed them to make connections between core subjects. These connections go on to help these students perform better in all academic areas.
At Dunwoody High School some of the top 20 students who have taken a foreign language beginning in elementary school, have reported college acceptances into Georgia Tech, the University of Georgia, Washington and Lee University, Georgetown, Samford University, Cornell, and Berry College. Others are anxiously awaiting letters from Dartmouth, Brown, Stanford, and Harvard. All of these students have at least a 4.0 GPA.
Having taken German at Austin Elementary, Jessica Andersen stated, “It’s hard to become truly fluent in a language without starting at a very early age.” She speaks from experience, herself being fluent in the language. Wanting to share her passion for the language, she tutors German and holds a class for Advanced Placement German students. Andersen realizes the long term benefits of speaking a second language noting that she will be “very valuable in the job market someday” because of her ability to communicate in German.
Learning another language has more than just academic benefits. Ryan Greenstein, who has traveled to more than 14 countries and speaks Spanish and Arabic, commented that his “favorite thing about all languages is the opportunity to experience the cultures of the people who speak them.” Studying a second language also helps end stereotypes. Annie Lashinsky reported that after learning German her family “opened [their] eyes to defy stereotypes a lot of Jews hold against Germans.”
The foreign language program at Dunwoody has allowed students to academically excel and see the world through a different lens. It has given them the opportunity to travel abroad, make connections, learn from mistakes, and understand the actions of others.