A dilemma every Bachelor of Arts major faces is which language to take to complete their foreign language requirement. JMU offers a variety of languages from Chinese to Ancient Greek and Italian. Any of them would be great, but Spanish is the most beneficial language to learn.
Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world with 460 million native speakers. It’s the official language of 20 countries, and in the United States, there are 41 million speakers. These statistics show why Spanish is one of the most dominant languages and why it’s important to learn.
One of the best reasons to learn Spanish is that it makes one more employable. There’s a place for Spanish in every career field. Doctors will have patients that speak Spanish, financial traders will buy stock from Latin American companies and journalists will provide content written in Spanish. Not only does it open more doors and career opportunities, but knowing Spanish will also increase one’s salary.
Spanish is known as the starting block for learning other romance languages. Many of the words and phrases used in Italian, French and Latin are similar to each other. For example, the Italian word for “thank you” is “grazie,” and the Spanish word for “thank you” is “gracias.” The Portuguese word for “hello” is “olá,” and the Spanish word for “hello” is “hola.”
Learning a second language has also been proven to improve brain function. Translating back and forth between the two languages keeps one’s mind sharp and prevents decline in memory. Some studies have even linked learning another language to helping prevent Alzheimer's.
In 2017, Justin Bieber was featured on the remix of the song “Despacito.” When performing the song live, Bieber infamously didn’t know the Spanish lyrics and replaced them with words like “burrito” and “Dorito.” Learning Spanish will ensure one never embarrasses themselves like Bieber did and will provide a greater appreciation for the use of Spanish language in pop culture.
There are so many amazing resources available for learning Spanish. A popular method that most people use is the app Duolingo because it’s convenient and great for studying on-the-go. A similar method is listening to a podcast like Coffee Break Spanish that tailors podcasts for different levels of proficiency. Both of these options don’t break the bank either because they’re free.
JMU also offers opportunities to practice Spanish speaking. The Spanish Club meets every week to discuss culture, practice speaking Spanish and plan philanthropic events with the Harrisonburg Hispanic community. The Foreign Language department organizes language tables where students can practice conversational Spanish with other students. Sigma Delta Pi is a Spanish honor society for students who study Spanish.
Overall, the key to learning Spanish is an open mind that’s willing to learn and immerse itself.
Allison Baxter is a junior media arts & design and communication studies double major. Contact Allison at firstname.lastname@example.org.