The Third Language
Lisette Titre is a video game developer and an educational curriculum consultant. She is on Twitter.
MAY 12, 2014
In the tech world coding is often referred to as the "third language," providing another means of communication outside of written and oral language skills. In fact, coding should be considered another language requirement, as a supplement to the traditional English grammar or foreign language class. It has the potential to make young people better writers and communicators. I have had students -- seniors in high school - -who couldn't rely on basic English language skills to grasp coding proficiently because it relies so heavily on proper syntax to function.
This presents a greater question. If those language-challenged students had used coding to support their early learning would it have made their English skills better? The study of coding forces students to learn proper syntax or "spelling" to make their scripts run. Perhaps it could be used as a carrot to drive students to learn the foundations of reading, writing and arithmetic. This points out the greater challenge that our current education system has created; inequality. Students who aren't exposed to coding could possibly get left behind by those who have acquired the skills to compete in the global economy.
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