Many scientific tests have been done around the subject of learning a second language. It has been determined that the optimal time for learning another language is during youth—basically, the younger a person is, the easier it is for him to learn to speak another language.
So, it is important for schools to begin teaching foreign languages in the elementary grades. The specific foreign language that a school district decides to teach is really not an issue—this can be Spanish, Japanese, French, Chinese, or any other language. But, more school districts should begin implementing a foreign language into the elementary curriculum.
Of course, this may be easier said than done because of the standardized testing guidelines. Standardized tests are given throughout the elementary grades testing mathematics and language arts; therefore, school districts have developed strict guidelines as to what teachers must cover during certain grade levels so that the children will learn the necessary material. It may be that there is no time left in order for a second language to be taught.
But, it should be considered that learning a foreign language can be helpful to learning language arts. After all, when teaching a second language, it is essential for a teacher to discuss grammar and sentence structure. A foreign language could also be used to help students learn vocabulary.
Learning a foreign language can also help students relate to other cultures, which is a part of social studies. Usually in the early grades social studies is more about people and cultures and ways of life—not about history. Foreign languages could easily fit into this subject category.
If the people developing curriculum guidelines get creative, they can find a way to fit a foreign language into the elementary grades. It certainly wouldn’t take anything away from the students, and it could be extremely beneficial.