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Research: Second Language Learning

Literature Review on Impact of Second Language Learning

This 2017 literature and research review was conducted at the University of Calgary Language Research Centre. The report was prepared for and funded by Second Language and Intercultural Council of the Alberta Teachers’ Association and the Canadian Association of Second Language Teacher. Some of the many benefits the research identifies are that second language learning for children: 

  • Has a positive impact on the development of general cognitive skills of learners.
  • Enhances bilinguals’ focus and ability to ignore irrelevant information.
  • Often results in enhanced spelling ability as well as superior reading comprehension when learners are compared to their monolingual peers.
  • Often results in higher achievement in a range of subject areas, including mathematics, science and language arts.
  • Strengthens tolerance of ambiguity and awareness of different cultural perspectives and practices.
  • Encourages learners to embrace scientific, social and environmental ideas originating from other parts of the world.
  • Leads to enhanced communicative abilities, including the use of verbal and non-verbal skills, perspective-taking skills, and interpersonal understanding.
  • Enhances creative ability by promoting unique problem solving, flexibility, and creative thinking.
  • Promotes international dialogue, collaboration and engaged global citizenship.
  • Has potential for fostering intercultural dialogue and easing antagonism between conflicting sides.
  • Can contribute to increased connection to cultural identity and family history, and facilitate communication with relatives.
  • Can positively affect educational and careers opportunities.
  • Can act as a source of pride and self-esteem.