LEXINGTON, Kentucky — Most people have heard of volunteers going abroad to teach English to people of all ages in developing countries. There has been some debate over whether or not volunteer programs that teach English are worthwhile and culturally respectful, but recent studies have shown that both concerns are of little merit.
On the purely economic side, knowing English in foreign countries is a continuously growing demand due to global trade and commerce. A study on the economic impact of knowing English found that the power and economic success of a person in developing countries increases by 25 percent if he or she can communicate in English. This research that the British Council commissioned is the first statistical research proving the beneficial results of knowing English in developing countries.
This same research, however, found that in order for such success to be widespread, more teachers who can thoroughly teach English are needed before it makes any significant difference.
There is more to it than just economics, though. A recent study found scientific evidence that knowing multiple languages improves mental health and increases intelligence.
In the study, researchers observed the amount of grey matter in vital brain regions to compare monolingual and bilingual speakers. The bilingual speakers proved to have much more grey matter in these vital, executive control areas. The executive control “refers to the management of memory, reasoning, planning and problem solving,” according to Psychology Blog.
With this new research and evidence, the case for teaching second languages to children around the world has become stronger. By improving their cognitive reasoning and understanding, it would give children the ability to make healthier choices in all areas of life.
Many citizens in developing countries want further education in English, and with economic and mental health evidence such as this, it is not difficult to see why.
Although the volunteers that teach English are of high priority and make significant improvements, the growth of English is not limited to them. There are many options to advance English teaching in developing countries that extend from a teacher visiting developing areas.
Computers have been tested out and used in developing countries since the 1980s. Though typically not the most advanced or timely computers, the technology would still allow for programs that teach English to be used.
Language games such as “Who is Oscar Lake?” and “Reader Rabbit” would allow people to immerse themselves in the language through application and fun in order to win the games. Options such as language packs are also an alternative style of learning that would provide the appropriate material for people in developing countries.
These styles of learning may seem questionable, but like most things, being immersed into the language proves to be a more effective way of permanently learning a language.
The advantages proven through this research leave little up to question. Teaching English in developing countries has the potential to improve the economic standings of not only individuals, but of entire countries that reap the benefits from economically stable households.