By Nicole Cieslinski

Nicole Cieslinksi on trip to Spain                Phoro by Nicole Cieslinksi, The Keystone
Nicole Cieslinksi on trip to Spain Photo by Nicole Cieslinksi, The Keystone

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 18.1 percent of people in Berks County are Latino/Hispanic as of the 2013 census. Spanish is a growing language in the U.S., and it would be beneficial to not only the country, but in particular, KU, to start learning Spanish. Knowing a second language improves your chances of getting a job and expands your knowledge of another culture. Next time you want to take an elective course, consider Spanish.

Finding a job is hard as it is, but you can narrow the competition down just by learning a new language. I am a business major and I have found when looking at job applications for executive jobs, that it is helpful if you can speak Spanish so the company can grow internationally. Additionally, according to the website, “bilingual pay differentials range between 5 and 20 percent per hour more than the position’s base rate.” Being bilingual can literally pay off.

I am Polish, Irish and German, but ever since I was little, I have encouraged my sibling and my parents to try to understand Spanish. Now we can all hold simple conversations. I was so intrigued by Spanish that my family even hosted a Spanish exchange student.  If it weren’t for my prior knowledge of Spanish, I would not have been able to connect with my new best friend and never would have experienced their culture to the fullest. It is more than a language; it is a connection you have with a completely different culture.

I conducted a survey online of 60 people regarding the importance of learning Spanish. I found that 58.33 percent of students do not know Spanish and only 78.33 percent of students find it important to know the language. I also found that 33.38 percent of students worked with people who were of Hispanic descent. I know from experience that knowing how to speak Spanish helps you when you are at a job with Spanish-speaking workers.

People may ask, “This is an English-speaking country; why should I learn Spanish?” Just because we are learning another language alongside English does not mean that we are losing English. Most countries speak more languages than just their native language. While in Spain, I was surprised to find that not only did students know a good amount of English, but they also knew German, Latin and some Russian. Knowing another language doesn’t take away from your culture; it expands your understanding. If we want Spanish-speaking people to learn English, we need people who can speak both Spanish and English to teach them. Not everyone is going to become an English teacher, but if it is such a concern to those who feel this is an English-speaking country, maybe they should try to help others learn.

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