“The importance of learning a second language and doing it from an early age lies in the ease that children have to absorb and assimilate information,” Canadian psychologist Ellen Bialystok said. Bilingual schools provide students with the opportunity to learn both a foreign language and, usually, their mother tongue. Nevertheless, there are also cons. “Since non-bilingual students are dedicating more than 4 hours a week to learn e.g. Maths, bilingual students are investing part of this time in learning the local school language,” argued Susan La Ferver, a teacher from Brains International School in Spain.
At an older age, Erasmus allows students to spend part of their studies in a different country, and university staff members to teach or train abroad. In fact, more than 90% of mobile students experienced an improvement in intercultural competences, adaptability and knowledge of the host country, and communications and language skills. English is the lingua franca at the host Higher Education Institutions and the companies receiving students on mobility programmes. After English, the most widely spoken language on these exchanges is Spanish, followed by German, French and Italian.
The Bologna Process has made a step forward towards mobility and the mutual recognition of diplomas. “Between 80 to 85% of Erasmus exchange students still do not get full recognition”, according to Sophia Eriksson Waterschoot, Director for Youth, Education and Erasmus+ at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture. Nevertheless, some Erasmus alumni found love during this experience. About 33% had a life partner of a different nationality and 27% met their life partner while abroad. Needless to say, sharing your life with a foreign soul mate/partner is motivation for improving a language!
Learning a language is also possible e.g. attending courses or staying with a host family, but it’s also possible to learn from home by watching and listening to stations in their original language. Tandem language learning allows you to join forces with someone who speaks the language you want to learn, so you can both benefit from each other’s skills. Learning through exchange began in the UK in the 1800s. By the end of the 70s, Jürgen Wolff organized individual Spanish-German tandem partnerships in Madrid. Take note of where the method’s name came from: a tandem is a bicycle made for two that needs two people to move forward!
Written by Víctor Mir – Robert Schuman Communications’ Trainee at TermCoord. Víctor, who hails from Spain, studied in a German School and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Translation and Interpreting, a University-specific degree in Linguistic Mediation and a Master’s degree in Edition, Production and New Journalistic Technologies
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