Why Study a Foreign Language?
Spanish language skills are becoming increasingly useful. Perhaps most evident to Americans is the substantial influence of Hispanic culture coupled with the rapid growth of the Hispanic population in many areas of the U.S., let alone the future economic potential of Latin American speakers of Spanish.
Indeed, communicating in a Foreign language has emerged as one of the most useful and necessary skills in various careers. Language study allows one to develop and provide expertise in so many different areas: governmental consulting, education, travel and tourism, journalism, counseling, nursing, translation, business, etc. Language studies also form the basis of advanced graduate-level research, research performed in fields that are not always so conspicuously linked to a second language.
Finally, knowledge of a foreign language provides a key that opens the door to foreign cultures and literatures. It helps expand one's perspective and enables one to reach a critical examination of culture itself. One sees one's own language and cultural background from the point of another language and culture. Such objectivity decreases chauvinism, stereotypes, and narrow-mindedness and allows one to understand an ever greater range of points of view. This can be very useful in any human interaction, interaction beyond the obvious practical world of business, for instance. As such, proficiency in a foreign language translates into an essential part of a Liberal Education and the value it bears on the quality of an educated person's life.
If you wish more information related to the points outlined above, you may consider looking at a recent brochure from the MLA (Modern Language Association) called Language Study in the Age of Globalization: The College-Level Experience. It is available online in PDF format; click here to get to it. The MLA also has a fascinating language map based on U.S. Census data that you may want to explore as well to see just how prevalent languages other than English are in the United States.
You may also be interested in reading “Education for Global Leadership”, which can be downloaded here: (Exec. Sum., Complete Report). In this report the Committee for Economic Development reaches a number of significant conclusions. For example:
1. The globalization of the world's economies has created a host of new and different demands on our workforce, our citizens, and our students.
2. To confront the 21st century challenges to our economy and national security, our education system must be strengthened to increase the foreign language skills and cultural awareness of our students.
3. Colleges and universities should internationalize their campuses, by, among other things, devoting more resources to expand study-abroad opportunities.
4. US students are “strong technically” but “shortchanged” in cross-cultural experience and “linguistically deprived”.
5. To be successful abroad, American business leaders have to understand the minds and preferences of people and cultures very different from their own.
6. Teachers at the elementary and secondary levels are not prepared to meet the need for international knowledge and skills.
7. Studying a Foreign Language helps students understand English grammar better and improves their overall communication and problem-solving skills.