Language Learning and Learner Profile
This year, instead of outlining the topics we will be learning throughout the year, I started the lesson by asking the boys: WHY do we learn another language?
The boys from Year 2 and above shared their thoughts in their class. While some very ambitious boys mentioned how learning new languages can help them to “have a multinational company” and “do trade with other countries”, there are boys who suggested: to communicate with others who do not speak English, to make more friends, to speaker to waiters in a Chinese restaurant or to read menus. One of the Year 5 boys must have a great knowledge of the IB system! – he told the class the reason why we learn another language is because all IB school students are required to learn another language. He is right! But why?
Here are 10 reasons why IB learners should learn another new language based on the attributes of the Learner Profile
- To become a better communicator. The more languages you learn, the more people we can reach and better connect with. Nelson Mandela once said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. “
- To become a better inquirer. For example, if you need to research on “couplet”. Google returns 17,000,000 result when searched in English, while Google has 5,200,000 + 32,800,000 results in both simplified (春联) and traditional Chinese (春聯). For someone who uses all three, it’s a massive total of 550,000,000 results. But the most importantly, it fosters one’s curiosity towards the world.
- To become more knowledgeable. Knowledge is power!!!
- To become a better thinker. Language shapes the way we think. Some even suggested that using a second language can lead to better decision making.
- To become more principled. Showing respect is one of the examples of being principled. As a responsible global citizen, the language learner show respect to others, including the languages and cultures.
- To become more open-minded. Learning a language can help to broaden one’s mind. One of my favourite quotes is from Ludwig Wittgenstein.: “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”
- To become more caring. Because we understand the frustration when learning a new language, we can relate to the pain and frustration the English learners must have gone through. We learn to be more compassionate. If we find it difficult to learn another language, they do too. How would you like to be treated when you are learning a language?
- To become a risk-taker. There will be countless challenges in front of us during our lifetime. People who succeed in learning another language tend to take risks while learning. The “give it a go” mindset allows one to develop resilience!
- To become balanced. Bilingual/multilingual people constantly practice code switching in finding balance between languages.
- To become reflective. While learning another language we get to know another culture and we constantly compare and contrast against our own culture and reflect upon it.
During the Lunar New Year, all boys received a red pocket with three objects linking to the Learner Profile. The Learner profile is not something we assess, rather, it’s the quality we should all embrace as a lifelong learner and as a decent human being in this modern society.
Eva Angel – Mandarin Teacher