Learning another language is a highly beneficial initiative, especially among young students who are typically still forming cognitively and emotionally. Language experts have even come to determine that learning a language can improve brain function, create academic advantages, and foster compassion. But learning a language isn’t always an easy feat. For many students it can even come off more like a chore. Fortunately, we do have resources that can make language learning a happier and more fruitful journey. One of these resources, which also happens to be among the most effective, is none other than literature.
1. It Improves Language Awareness
Literature is a fantastic vehicle for language awareness. Unlike formal speech exercises, literature can gamify the practice and make students feel more at ease while doing so. According to speech researchers, because shared reading involves prosody, children can naturally learn intonation, rhythm, and pausing. All of which are key components in speech fluency. On top of this, literature can also be used to help children learn how to read in different languages, regardless if it’s their native tongue or a second language. As seen in school districts that use literature to revisit phonics, sounding out words in books helped students later identify these on their own. This works especially well in languages where the way words are spelled is vastly different from how they’re meant to be said. Even in digital settings, children can use literary works recorded by a native speaker to learn correct pronunciation. All in all, this helps children pick up a language’s nuances faster.
2. It Helps Explain Cultural Backgrounds
Knowing a language is one thing, but deeply understanding it is another. Inarguably, literature is one of the most effective mediums to achieve both. Since materials written by content creators such as authors and writers are designed to inform, inspire, and engage, this offers readers a first-hand glimpse into the cultural backgrounds from which their creators come. On top of this, since writers are skilled in research and developing original ideas, their readers can benefit from learning about unfiltered details which inform a language’s cultural identity. In many cases, reviewing literary works from a specific culture can even help students better understand the complexities of a vernacular which can only be learned from exposure rather than from classrooms. In the long run, this aids students in their language assimilation because they intimately understand the genesis and meaning behind every word, phrase, and slang.
3. It Encourages Further Engagement
Learning a language can be a deeply intimidating task. For some students, the challenges of learning a new language can even be frustrating or disheartening. Formal language lessons, too, can be a daunting experience that doesn’t work for every student. Alternatively, literature is universally accessible. No matter what level a student may be at, there is reading material that they can use at their own pace for their own needs. What’s more, reading has been shown to significantly improve engagement by strengthening a person’s mental health. Specifically, mental health studies have shown that reading can enhance confidence, increase empathy, and reduce stress levels in students. As such, reading literature can even become an outlet that helps students feel more compelled to further their language education.
Literature and language go hand-in-hand. Among students, literature can open their minds and hearts in a way that makes language learning more meaningful. Ultimately, while every student’s language learning adventure may look different, empowering them with literature and reading can make the process much more positive.
Specially written for FATHOMREADS.com