I recently talked to someone in the business world and got an interesting view about language proficiency in real life. The view on Spanish was not too surprising.
- If you are going to learn Spanish, the Latin American forms are more practical for business reasons than Spain.
- People in the United States are more accepting of a Spanish accent (than an Indian accent) when you call a service center, because it is very believable that they are in New York or Miami. Or they could be answering the call from half way around the world.
- Most native Spanish speakers are good employees because they have a different work ethic than the younger generation of Americans.
- In a world where networking and social connections are so important, why would you want to ignore such a large percentage of people? Your dream job could exist, just in a different language.
For my students, taking Spanish could get them ahead in the business world. You can gain respect by being able to communicate in more than one language. However, to truely succeed in a bilingual business atmosphere, there needs to be a strong cultural understanding as well.
There might be more Chinese speakers than any other language, but most Americans can survive without knowing Chinese. However, it gets harder every day to survive without knowing any Spanish in the United States. Most of our neighbors to the south speak Spanish, so the flow of language is inevitable. The video below was a winner in the ACTFL Podcast/Video contest. The message is simple and clear. Yes, language is important.
The message was also echoed by President Obama during a campaign speech. Many people jumped to the conclusion that he was attacking what it means to be American, but based on the statistics about language spoken in the world, the conclusion was misguided.
If you are still not convinced that Spanish is here to stay in the Unted States, PBS has a great article called ‘Do You Speak American?’ which goes through the history of Spanish speakers in the United States. Even I learned from reading the article.