World War II affected millions of people and dozens of countries. It is essential that students understand the causes and effects of World War II. Students can learn about, grapple with, process and synthesize these causes and effects through language. Students who have the extraordinary opportunity to study another language will enhance their learning, as it provides another layer of knowing and understanding. In a French classroom, students can be given the opportunity to read primary source material in another language, adding another dimension to their understanding of World War II.
On a personal level, my language skills allowed me to study abroad in Strasbourg, France, a region that was heavily impacted during World War II. Speaking French allowed me to interact with the people and the area in a way in which English would never have allowed me. Language offered me a way of personally connecting with another country’s history.
World War II is a crucial part of the curriculum in various subjects. It is the ideal vehicle for cross-curricular lesson development because of the profound impact the war had on so many aspects of life. Language is what allows both the educators and the students to share, elaborate, explain, and process the events and impacts of this era on the world then and now.