By Ann Wagner
¡Te amo! Je t’ aime! Ich liebe dich! Mahal kita! (That’s “I love you” in Spanish, French, German, and Tagalog.) Throughout the world, in many languages, there are words to express love. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone learned to say “I love you” in as many ways as we can? February is the month of love.
February is also Discover Languages Month, according to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).
What does research show about the benefits of language learning? Well, besides filling the world with a bit more love, three major areas have been identified. (More details and study sources can be found on the ACTFL website at www.actfl.org.) Language learning supports academic achievement. It correlates with higher academic achievement on standardized test measures and students’ ability to hypothesize in science, and is beneficial in the development of students’ reading abilities. Language learning provides cognitive benefits to students. There is evidence that early language learning improves cognitive abilities, and that bilingualism correlates with increased cognitive development. There is also a correlation between bilingualism and memory skills and problem-solving ability. Finally, research suggests that language learners develop a more positive attitude toward the target language and/or the speakers of that language.
The Santa Monica Public Library currently has world language collections for adults in eight languages: Chinese, Farsi, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Spanish. Our world languages collections for children include seven languages: Chinese, Farsi, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Russian. These materials include books [both fiction and nonfiction] and audiovisual formats. We also have materials for babies and children to learn sign language. Our extensive Spanish language collection includes books for both adults and children, DVDs for kids, music CDs, audiobooks, Ebooks and downloadable audiobooks. For children we also have Biblioteca TumbleBook, a digital collection of illustrated children’s books in Spanish (some of which are bilingual English/Spanish) that you can read, and read along with, on your computer or tablet. Our World Book Encyclopedia digital resources include Enciclopedia Estudiantil Hallazgos, for Spanish-speaking students. Also available is the LearningExpress Library database, which offers test preparation in Spanish and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) study guides, as well as other study guides for school and career.
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