ECTACO Info | " Dankbar: Learn a second language"
By Hannah Dankbar, firstname.lastname@example.org
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about why you should consider studying abroad. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and you will make memories that you will never forget. Now I’m back with another idea for you to consider: learning a second language. I know a lot of people do not see how learning a second language could possibly benefit you in any way, so allow me to explain.
No matter what field you go into, you will most likely work with somebody from a different culture at one point or another, whether it’s business meetings in Europe, working with engineers in Asia, studying soil in Nigeria or teaching in a classroom full of multicultural students. You can thank globalization for those experiences, but the point is that you are going to have to be conscious of those other cultures as you interact with them. A great place to start learning is by learning a second language.
It is true that you may not be able to learn every language of every culture that you are may interact with, and that’s OK. The important thing is to become aware of different cultures so you do not come off as the arrogant American, plus you will be able to experience more things when you travel.
I have studied Spanish since high school. I’m not fluent in the language, but I would say I’m proficient. When I was in Spain last spring, the Spaniards thought it was great that I was learning a second language. They were all very supportive and went out of their way to teach me new words each day. Then they would repeat them so I could memorize them. Nobody expected me to be perfect; they knew I was a student, and they just wanted me to learn more about them. When I used those words later, they would be so happy. It’s little things like this that could set you apart from most other people if you take the time to learn another language.
I found that by sharing a language with the people around me, I got to know them better. This may seem like a very obvious thing, but I was really worried about being able to connect with people before I left for Spain. I was worried that I was going to be the lonely American in the city, but that wasn’t the case. I met a lot of cool people in the city where I was living, and it was fun getting to know them.
Over Thanksgiving Break, I’m going down to Honduras for a service trip. Through my majors, I have studied developing countries and obviously Spanish. Now I have the opportunity to experience where my two majors collide. Being able to see your major play out in real life is rewarding after spending so much time sitting in the library reading about things. Thanks to globalization, this experience could take you anywhere in the world.
We all know our world is becoming more flat. The world is coming together and that means our generation is going to have to be ready to work right alongside many different people. We have to know how to work with them, not just the content of the project.
Do I have you convinced yet?
Here is another thing to consider. As a college senior getting ready to enter the real world, I’m getting a little nervous for all the new things that are going to start happening, but I know I was able to adapt to a culture that I didn’t know a whole lot about before going in, and that makes me feel a little more confident that I can adapt to the real world.
If you still are looking for another reason, here it is: How cool would it be to read Harry Potter in another language? If none of my other reasons got you thinking, I bet that one did.
Studying a second language can open a lot of doors for you. Don’t automatically assume that it cannot benefit you, because I can assure you that it can in some way. Iowa State offers plenty of opportunities for taking a class or going to any of the many cultural celebrations put on by different student organizations.
Think about it.
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