Speaking a second language is an asset that will continue to benefit students for the remainder of their lives. Bilingualism is a tool that is useful in travel opportunities, education and employment.
“I think that a lot of people get used to English being a pretty dominant language around the world, especially when it’s the only one spoken around them daily,” sophomore Logan Sommerfeld said. “It’s important to learn new languages in preparation for the world outside of the United States.”
English is currently the most widely spoken language in the world. It is the official language of 83 countries and spoken in many more. Many students agree that this status has discouraged people from branching out and learning a new language.
[pullquote]”Learning a new language is way to get out of your comfort zone and become culturally diverse,” Sommerfeld said.[/pullquote]
Escaping that comfort zone is easier said than done. Although some words may come from the same origin, every language is unique and specific to the areas that it dominates.
“Learning a new language is a very involved process, in which you not only have to learn vocabulary, but verb tenses, slang and how to put it all together.” Spanish teacher Debra Kuch said.
Gull Lake High School offers two language classes taught on campus: Spanish and French, both continuing to the Advanced Placement level. The school also offers a variety of classes available through virtual schooling.
“Learning to speak any language is helpful,” sophomore Lauren Nusbaum said. “I’m currently taking Spanish because it’s such a commonly used language.”
Mastering Spanish can put students at a great advantage as it is the fourth most spoken language in the world. One of the most versatile and easy-to-learn languages, Spanish is the official language of 21 countries and is spoken throughout many more countries around the world.
“When we started Spanish in middle school, I remember thinking that I wished I could’ve started earlier,” sophomore Sam Turner said. “But I think I’ve developed a lot of useful skills, even in just three years of the class.”
Gull Lake’s French classes are only available to high schoolers, but sophomore Maiya Wimbley said that she doesn’t think that has been detrimental to the development and coverage of the class.
“Even though I started language classes a year later than the Spanish kids, I think they been able to cover a decent amount of material,” Wimbley said.
French is the official language of 33 countries and is the eleventh most widely spoken language. Although it is the official language of more countries than Spanish is, French is not as greatly dispersed throughout countries other than the 33 who list it as their first language.
“French is not as widely used as Spanish, but knowing a second language at all will help distinguish you in regards to your capacity for knowledge and ethnic awareness,” Wimbley said.
Wimbley and Sommerfeld agree that learning and obtaining knowledge about other countries, cultures and languages can help one become more well-rounded.
“Cultural diversity is sometimes hard to come by these days,” Sommerfeld said. “I think becoming bilingual opens doors to a whole new world.”
A second language can be very important in business, especially in countries with a variety of languages and dialects spoken. It may be used to communicate with those who speak a certain language exclusively and used as an advantage over fellow applicants who are only familiar with one language.
“My mom has always stressed how being able to speak more than one language enables you to communicate more easily and can turn you into a valuable asset for a company,” Nusbaum said.
In school, a second language can be used to be placed in advanced classes, extracurricular clubs and allows students to travel to other countries with a language class.
“I might be going on one of the trips to Costa Rica my senior year,” Turner said. “Learning and mastering a second language has helped make special opportunities like that available to me.”
Some schools even offer a Foreign Language Honor Society in addition to classes that count towards college credit.
“Learning a second language can help students exceed in school,” Kuch said. “It allows them to involve themselves in extracurricular activities and get ahead with course requirements.”
Language allows for better communication and accessibility to resources and people around the world. Learning a new language can be frustrating, difficult and time consuming, but the benefits are innumerable.
“Once you retain a new language and put it into practice, I think that the learning is continued through various different routines of life,” Turner said.
By Mili Renuart