In the diverse world we live in, there is a need to know more than one language, or at least the ability to be able to hold a conversation in a language other than your native tongue. In the United States, for example, Spanish is the second most common language and in some parts it’s the language most spoken. The ability to know another language helps maintain international relationships, and it helps extremely with your career. For some jobs it’s even mandatory to know another language. You are always going to find someone who’s English is not their native language, and just displaying an ability to speak another language says a lot about your character.
For many Latinos, speaking both English and Spanish comes in handy depending on the setting. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, “About 60% of bilingual Hispanic workers usually speak more English than Spanish at work (29%), or use only English at work (33%). Widespread Spanish language usage at work is relatively rare among bilingual workers.” When it comes to speaking Spanish at home, “English/Spanish speaking Latinos are about evenly divided in their use of Spanish and English.” All in all, Spanish is always a great plus and quality to have.
For Melisa Garcia, a graduate from the University of California, Riverside, knowing Spanish is like she has a “second identity.” Garcia stated, “I am able to help others who are new to this country, and it is all a chain. I can only use it for positive things. My children will benefit from it and will help others. It will benefit me as well, in my writing and for work.”
In my case, I grew up with English and Spanish, but when I was younger I didn’t find the real importance of Spanish. I also had a bad habit of responding in English when my parents and grandparents spoke to me in Spanish. It was probably because I didn’t feel comfortable speaking the language, especially since I got frustrated when I couldn’t remember how to say something in Spanish. For whichever reason, like all kids, I was young and naive.
It wasn’t until I entered middle school that I found the importance of knowing another language because at times I had the opportunity to help someone interpret or translate English to Spanish and vice versa. The point in my life where I fell in love with knowing more than one language was when I got to college and spent a year abroad in Spain. I felt the benefits of mastering two languages because I helped my roommates in Spain with their English. I learned that if I can help someone with a language that is not their native tongue, and if I continued speaking Spanish, the possibilities are endless. Once I came back from studying abroad I became a Spanish tutor and graduated with a Minor in Spanish.
Alexandra Landeros, Public Relations & Outreach Director for the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance and Founder/Owner of Roots Public Relations, an independent agency promoting environmental stewardship and cultural heritage, states, “Knowing Spanish has given me an advantage in getting certain jobs where reaching out to the Latino community is important, it has helped me meet new friends I wouldn’t have met if I didn’t speak Spanish, and it’s expanded my reading and film viewing options.”
When someone is bilingual, they have a window of opportunities in comparison to someone who only knows one language. There is no better feeling than starting to learn a new language. It doesn’t matter what language it is, the only thing that matters is that it fascinates you enough to learn.
“Most major cities in the United States have another major language besides English. Knowing more than one language helps you become a better communicator. It gives you certain advantages over others who only speak English, or who only speak a foreign language,” added Alexandra.
In a country like the United States, you not only celebrate the culture of where you’re from, but you also celebrate the languages of other countries. Language is one of the many keys to success.