Today, public schools across the country offer dual language programs in a wide range of languages, including Chinese, Spanish, Greek, and Arabic. These programs—which have grown largely in response to demands from local communities—are a proven way of getting students more engaged in their studies, building literacy, raising academic achievement, and preparing children to live and thrive in a global, interdependent environment. The incorporation of an intensive focus on a foreign language in a school’s curriculum supports positive evidence-based learning and developmental outcomes in students.
There is ample research that points to the advantages children gain when they study a foreign language—particularly if they begin at an early age—not the least of which is their development as individuals who are bilingual and bi-literate. The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) has documented that language learning
- supports academic achievement
- provides cognitive benefits to students
- affects attitudes and beliefs about language learning and other cultures
Additional research shows that language learners develop a more positive attitude toward the target language and/or the speakers of that language, as well as speakers of languages other than their native language. In their groundbreaking work Cultural Proficiency: A Manual for School Leaders (Second Edition), Lindsey, Robins, and Terrell conclude that “educational leaders who are successful in creating culturally proficient learning communities will enable students to play vital roles wherever they go in the global community.”
In addition to these numerous benefits, the study of Hebrew offers several particular advantages: