“I think I’ve forgotten more than I learned last semester,” I said to one of my classmates last Monday in my Spanish 120 class, after a refresher quiz.
Last week, I wrote a forum article about attending three universities in three semesters. I went to Missouri State University, University of Central Missouri, and now University of Missouri – Kansas City. UMKC is the only one of the three that requires students to take a foreign language to graduate. I have to admit, I was pretty upset after looking at my graduation requirements when I transferred and seeing that I needed three semesters of a foreign language. I attempted a summer Spanish course when I was in elementary school, then attempted to have one of my friends teach me while I was in high school, but neither of them turned out very well.
Though thinking about it now, it’s probably one of the best things a college can do for their students to get them ready for the real world. As I remember reading in so many grade school social studies books, the United States is known as the “melting pot.” There are constant daily reminders of how much our population is changing and diversifying. As I flip through the radio stations in the car, I hear more music in other languages. All products made now include at least the Spanish translation. Even something as simple as taking a trip to the grocery store makes me realize how much our population is changing. The Price Chopper near my house has an entire section written in Spanish, which makes me glad I chose to enroll in Spanish instead of one of the other five foreign languages UMKC offers.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010 Kansas City’s population was 10 percent Hispanic or Latino, compared to the 6.9 percent in 2000. Hispanic or Latino happens to be the race that had the biggest percent increase between those years.
Since enrolling in my first semester of Spanish last fall, I can actually read pieces of the Spanish on products, understand some of the lyrics to some of those songs on the radio, and I have actually used the language in daily life. My family took a trip to the Swap N Shop on 63rd street and a group of Spanish speaking people came up to us asking about something we were selling. I was able to converse with them using basic Spanish and negotiate prices.
I’m not going to lie, if it wasn’t required to take a foreign language, I probably would have went through my entire educational career without learning any languages. But, I would be very sorry afterwards. I think a lot of students might feel the same way as me.
There are plenty of advantages if you can speak a foreign language. The advantages are not only in daily life, but career related, as well.
Now, I just hope that I can remember again what I learned last semester so that I’m not struggling in my Spanish class this year.