Learning a second language is no foreign concept. School districts offer classes to learn new languages, and certain state schools require language requirements for admissions. Drake University prides itself in its array of language classes and bi- and tri-lingual students across campus. But are there really benefits towards the time consuming skill?
Many students agree that, while on campus, the ability to converse in a second language doesn’t make them any different.
“The majority of the time I use only English; there’s hardly anybody else who speaks the languages I speak,” said Darpan Mehta, a first-year international student from Mumbai, India.
While learning a second language for Mehta was beneficial to understanding his new environment, the lack of opportunities for speaking his own languages, Hindi and Gujarati, are few and far between.
Sophomore Ricardo Martinez, a student from Mexico, agrees that learning English is essential to being successful on campus.
“The disadvantages would be that some classes are still hard to understand because of the vocabulary,” he said.
Sophomore Raquel Rivera explained that, often, people assume knowing a language makes you an expert in all areas of a culture, which can get annoying.
“A lot of people tell me to say something or tell them something (in Spanish), but it’s just awkward,” Rivera said.
As for students pursuing taking a second language, is it worth being bilingual in college?
“In my personal experience, there haven’t been any advantages to being bilingual in college, but in the workplaces, I find it very helpful to be able to understand two languages,” said Julie Gitman, a sophomore fluent in Russian and English.
She said, although keeping up a language may be difficult, in the long run, the benefits are overwhelming.
“I would encourage people to keep up with speaking a language in college. That puts your resume at the top. A lot of people speak different languages but aren’t fluent. Being fluent sets you apart,” said Rivera.
A globalizing economy welcomes people with the ability to communicate with multiple languages. Learning a language is just another goal for them to pursue, as the students of Drake find it as no surprise that hard work pays off.