Language connects our human society through a system of communication that consists of sounds, grammar, and words. However, the importance of language skills is much more than just conveying one’s thoughts and emotions. It is an imperative part of human civilization. As it helps us to preserve our culture and allows us to explore ways of life other than our own. From social norms to acceptable value systems, and taboos, language affects all aspects of our lives across all stages. It has helped us to make scientific advancements. And made us social beings through the power of expression.
Let’s unfold some interesting aspects of language skills today, starting with the global figures!
How many Languages are spoken around the world?
If we go by statistics, there are over 7000 languages spoken around the world. And almost 40% of these are now in the category of endangered (with just less than 1000 speakers left).
Interestingly, nearly half of the world’s population speaks 23 languages. And almost 88% of the people speak one of these ‘Top 10 most spoken languages’ (also depicted in the pie chart below):
|Top 10 most spoken Languages (as of 2022)|
Let’s move on to language skills now!
Importance of Language Skills for Young Students
As a tool of communication, language helps us to express ourselves effectively within a group. It allows us to create memories. And carries lasting impressions beyond time and social systems.
In the recent past, the importance of language skills has been acknowledged more than ever. And our policymakers attached a lot of importance to building these skills in the National Policy of Education, 2020 (by focusing on multilingualism). On the lines of leading international agencies like ‘World Bank’, Indian policymakers have also acknowledged the advantages of imparting instructions in the student’s native language (especially in the initial stages of education).
In this way, our education system has extended the scope to strengthen language learning from the foundation stage of a child’s education. Today, language learning is popularized by the top traditional and online schools. And is delivered in a highly engaging manner.
Moving on, let’s explore more dimensions of this topic & Figure out why this skill is important for students across stages of their educational journey
Importance of Language Skills for Students
1. Improved cognition
A renowned American linguist, Nom Chomsky came up with one of the most credible and impactful theories about language. He explained the process of language acquisition beautifully. And his term ‘Language Acquisition Device’ gained much recognition in the world of cognitive psychology. His work highlighted the innate capability of human children to acquire language.
He gave a detailed theory as to how a human child is born with a set of rules within the brain, as an innate template or blueprint for language. While language acquisition is easy for children, knowing more than one also has its own advantages.
Research supports that bilingualism changes one’s cognitive and neurological systems. Their brain is capable of matching the signal to guess sounds even before the speaker finishes speaking. Knowing more than one language activates a large number of sounds in the mind of a bilingual person. The executive functions of their brain and their cognitive abilities are always active. And this enhances overall cognitive abilities.
<Just to add in here, the adults too can make the most of this advantage (of improved cognition through language learning). As per Science Daily, adult brain can be retrained to learn second languages.>
2. Better Performance
The knowledge of more than one language is also associated with better performance of the brain due to a higher degree of memory and better speed of processing. Studies have supported the positive impact of bilingualism as a non-verbal cognitive feature. This consistent pattern of the brain and advanced reasoning ability also helps students to excel academically.
3. Intercultural understanding
Learning a language also improves inter-cultural understanding. They can explore different cultures. And eventually, this intercultural competence improves their employability prospects. Broad intercultural skills are an edge in the workplace. As these help an individual to understand the ways in which others think and behave. And makes him/her capable of collaborating with peers from all parts of the world.
4. Sharpens skills
Language learning also enhances skills like comprehension, planning, recognizing and transforming sounds, etc. And strengthens skills like critical thinking, conflict management, and concept understanding.
The importance of language skills is also associated with one’s communication skills.
Let’s move on and discover more.
Importance of Language Skills in Communication
Language is power and the basis for establishing communication ties. It supports all types of relationships (including business relationships), promotes cultural understanding, and makes an individual workforce proficient. Without the power of communication, we cannot address issues/problems. On the other hand, language barriers can further complicate situations. And hamper one’s ability to resolve challenges.
Owing to the importance of language skills in communication, top companies prefer employees with proficient language skills. Because their ability to communicate effectively makes them more confident in collaborating. And also improves inter-department coordination.
Now that we know enough about the importance of language skills, it’s time to discuss how to build these in students.
What are some ways to improve Language Skills?
1. Enhance Learning Opportunities
Language can open new opportunities in this age of digitalization. We can improve the language skills of the students by creating the right learning environment. Top traditional/online schools support the development of verbal and non-verbal communication skills by using the best pedagogies of the education system. High-quality teaching and learning processes and engaging online educational resources focus on grammar, vocabulary, and phonetics. All this enhances the quality of learning opportunities for students. And empowers them to develop effective communication skills.
2. Books and Print Media
Books, newspapers, magazines, etc. are some of the most effective ways to improve language skills. In this era of handheld devices, students have a lot of opportunities to read content and build knowledge. They should be encouraged to set aside some time in the day. And this should be dedicated solely to reading and finding meanings of unknown words. Reading is a wonderful way of improving language skills in students. Because it helps their brain to attach meaning to the symbols i.e. the language (words or phrases).
Presently, the advantages of reading are acknowledged globally. And top international organizations such as PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) consider reading assessments as an important parameter of its framework.
Another credible way of improving one’s language skills is to pen down thoughts or write comments. Writing is believed to be a powerful tool that helps the human mind to retain information better. Because when we write down something, we are more likely to recall it later. It is true that not all of us can be great writers. However, by developing this habit we can certainly improve the language skills in students. Simple habits like creating a diary or writing down comments/feelings hone language skills. It also helps students to express their thoughts with clarity. And supports them in building vocabulary.
Listening is a cooperative activity that helps us to develop language skills. An interesting article published by the BBC shared some unsung facts about listening and its advantages of building on people’s arguments. Being a good listener is a fantastic way of strengthening language skills in communication. And for students, it acquaints them with the appropriate use of colloquialism (informal words) and idiolect (a unique speech pattern or style used by an individual).
The most obvious use of this knowledge is to select the right words at the right place (or in the right company). And once this knowledge is built, students are able to develop language skills that could please one and all.
By listening to the language of other speakers, we can make some noteworthy changes in our own selection of words. Again, this helps us to improve our vocabulary. And also exposes us to divergent thinking by understanding varied viewpoints on the same issue/topic.
5. Educational Technology
New-age technology has also helped us to improve language skills in communication. With the opportunities of learning language through mobile applications, both students and adult learners can now hone their language skills through affordable and convenient choices.
Do you know that in the US, 67% of parents are happy when their child is learning about technology from a young age?
And the best part is that this growing use of technology is also exposing students to a world of opportunities for language learning.
Here are some quick statistics:
The mobile E-Learning market size was estimated to be around 19.5 billion USD.
Duolingo is the most downloaded language learning application with 2.5 million paid subscribers worldwide (as of 2021). This count rose by almost 56% year over year.
The importance of language skills for students is predominant across all age groups and generations. However, our young students certainly have an edge over the previous generation through the blessing of technology. The opportunities of learning new languages and working on one’s brain functions and now accessible at our fingertips. And luckily, the trend of teaching more and more languages have also picked up through the top traditional/online schools.
Like any other target, language learning requires focus and consistency. And once a solid foundation is built the roadmap to success is clearly visible!
Frequently Asked Questions:
- What is the importance of language skills for students in adolescence age groups?
Language learning and building these skills has a host of advantages for adolescents. They can unleash their creative side, improve their thinking skills. And go about exploring the world of literature to broaden their horizon.
- How do we improve language skills in communication as beginners?
You must try to read as much as possible. And work upon presenting information in short and comprehensive language. Listen to some of the great speakers. And identify how they make use of stress, intonation, pause etc. to make their speech appealing. Once you build sound foundation, you can experiment with more complex words and phrases.
- What can parents do to improve language skills in students in a young age?
You must give kids enough opportunities to watch content, read books /comics etc. In addition, try out some fun activities that can enhance their vocabulary (such as word of the day or star chart etc.). Simple reinforcement strategies such as appreciating efforts and making use of rewards (stars, smiley stickers etc.) can motivate kids to learn more new words and frame more sentences.