By: Sean Massa
Parlez-vous français? ¿Hablas español? Well, why not?
Most high schools and some junior high schools today require students to take foreign language classes. When I was at Valley Christian, I studied Spanish for four years: from the simple “Hola. Cómo estás?” of Spanish 1 to the more tricky conversations discussing films and narratives in AP Spanish Language. I feel that I have gained an invaluable tool from those years, and I even took Spanish courses in college for fun. Yet, I am certain that if I were to call any one of my friends from my high school, only a handful would be able to speak the foreign languages they learned today. Even fewer would practice it frequently.
It's all a matter of perspective. If you're taking a class because you have to, you probably won't really spend time investing in it or enjoying it for that matter. That needs to change. In today's culturally diverse world, having multilingual abilities can benefit you in so many ways. Here are few reasons why you should want to take your language classes seriously:
- You need it now.
Putting in the effort for your middle school/high school language courses can lead to better grades and GPA. Additionally, some you can apply your language abilities to ace a number of SAT Subject Tests offered in Spanish, German, French, Modern Hebrew, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Italian. (The Hillview Team can provide you with the right resources when you get there.)
- You'll need it later.
More than likely, your college graduation requirements will include a foreign language component. (Seriously?? Not again!) However, if you ace the AP language exam while in high school, you may be able to test out of those pesky requirements. You might even get some college credit while you're at it.
- It can get you a job and more money.
What do Fortune 500 companies, the State Department, the CIA, and the NYPD all have in common? They and countless others all seek job candidates fluent in other languages! Current tends point to higher demands for Spanish and Chinese skills in the private sector while Middle Eastern languages are sought out in many federal government positions. Additionally, a research study done by Rosetta Stone found that people who spoke at least one additional language had an average household income that was $10,000 higher than those who spoke English alone.
- It will help you when traveling.
Knowing a foreign language can help you navigate all the adventures you want to have abroad! From asking locals which is the best street food to giving directions to your confused taxi driver, your second language can help you survive the challenges of everyday life in another country. As an American with foreign language skills, you'll also be able to impress a number of people and make lots of new friends along the way. (This comes in handy. Trust me.)
- You can study and use it abroad.
When you study a language abroad in college, you will be able to make the most of your educational experiences. You can skip the basics and dive right into the deeper aspects of cultural and linguistic immersion. There are also a number of private and public scholarships available for students pursuing advanced language studies, taking courses, or interning abroad.
- Spanish and French are the most studied languages in the United States followed by American Sign Language (ASL) and German. Between 2009 and 2013, both Chinese and ASL showed growing participation trends.
- The United States has the second largest Spanish speaking population (and growing). By 2050, estimates show that the US could surpass Mexico in having more than 62 million Spanish speakers, more than any other country in the world.
- According to Ethnologue, the top languages in the world by native-speaker are
1. Chinese (1.3 billion)
2. Spanish (427 million)
3. English (339 million)
4. Arabic (267 million)
5. Hindi (260 million)
- There are only six official languages used by the United Nations: English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, and Russian.