Many high schools in the US require students to take at least one year of a foreign language. While this may inconvenience some, studying a foreign language is actually beneficial. In fact, it can result in improved performance in other academic areas.
Here are 3 ways foreign language studies can work in your favor on the SAT or ACT.
Vocabulary Complements Aptitude
Vocabulary and reading comprehension go hand in hand. If you are an avid reader, you can use context clues to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words. Similarly, if you possess a rich vocabulary, you can make better sense of the texts you read.
For tests like ACT or SAT, there are certain high-frequency vocabulary words you can study to improve your reading comprehension and perhaps essay-writing skills as well.
Another way to indirectly enhance your vocabulary is by learning root words, common prefixes, and suffixes. Studying a closely related language such as French or Spanish can make you more skilled at deducing the meanings of words in SAT or ACT texts that are new to you.
For instance: Let’s say you come across the word “ambivalent” in an SAT reading passage. You are not sure what it means, but the prefix reminds you of “ambos”; the Spanish word which means “both.”
Since the passage is about a character’s state of mind, one might conclude that ambivalent means experiencing more than one emotion, which is not far from the real meaning: having mixed feelings.
By understanding the prefix “amb”, you could also figure out the meaning of other words starting the same way, like “ambiguous,” which means having more than one interpretation.
Similar Reading Approach
More often than not, students read texts in a foreign language class with a specific purpose. This could be to locate instances of verb tense or find answers to the questions that follow.
Unless you are truly enthralled by the language you study, you probably won’t read passages purely for entertainment purposes.
Moreover, a lot of the time, you may be given rather difficult texts that exceed your current level. This is a purposeful method used by foreign language teachers to prod their students forward in their learning journey. This may lead you to get into the habit of reading only to understand the main idea of the passage.
Since the approach to reading a foreign language (particularly at the high school level) is rather goal-driven, it’s quite similar to the type of reading required on ACT or SAT.
Practicing reading comprehension in your target language, in and outside the class can train you to read critically, proving to be beneficial for SAT or ACT tests.
Better Memory Recall
Foreign language learning is a discipline that (at least in the early stages), involves a good amount of rote memorization. Sometimes the easiest way to learn verb conjugations, for example, is by practicing with flashcards and charts. Learning a foreign language helps improve your memory.
If you train for German online classes, you may have to memorize adjective declensions. ACT and SAT also require a fair share of memorizing content.
The cognitive benefits of foreign language classes have been long documented, with some studies also indicating that those who speak multiple languages significantly delay the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms and dementia.
Not just that, language learning can also lead you to discover mnemonic devices – hacks for jogging your memory. You can then apply those to other content areas.
The advantages of foreign language classes are numerous, with one of the most essential being sharpened skills required for your ACT and SAT prep endeavors. So go take that foreign language course you have been wanting and ace your exams.