Message from the Chair

In the United States of America, more individuals are now realizing the advantages-professional, cultural and academic-of immersing themselves in the study of a second language. Currently, in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at USC Aiken, students can acquire a minor in Spanish and can study French, German, Italian and Latin for the number of semesters necessary to fulfill second-language General Education requirements and beyond. Let us look at the reasons why it is important to study another language.

Studying another language provides the individual with an insight into his/her primary language. Therefore, the study of linguistic phenomenon, such as word families and root derivations, helps increase English native vocabulary and enhances the learner’s ability to comprehend the grammatical and syntactical structure of his/her first idiom. It is very common to hear from second-language learners that learning a second language actually helped them better understand the grammar and vocabulary of their primary language.

The study of a second language also enables us to understand and appreciate the culture of the country whose native tongue is being studied. Second-languages are no longer taught in a vacuum, since from the very first level of the process students are made aware of the thought structures, traditions and cultures of the people whose primary means of communication is the language being learnt. Appreciation and knowledge of a culture other than the native one make the learner more tolerant of other points of views and help the student celebrate rather than reject diversity.

The process of second language acquisition also prompts the learner to utilize and practice different learning skills-cognitive, repetition, analytical and memorization. The use of those different methods of transferring and acquiring knowledge enables the particular learner to apply all or some of those learning skills in the intellectual acquisition of a different subject-area. The second-language learner can, for example, rely on his/her memorization skills to learn scientific or /and mathematical formulae and to aid him/her in the study of the philosophy, literature and culture of another country. The transfer of knowledge and learning skills is therefore facilitated through the study of a second language.

Finally, in a shrinking world we constantly hear the term "globalization" used in different academic and business environments. Shouldn’t the concept of "globalization" by its very definition and especially in business, include the study of a second language at the proficiency level? Studying a second language enhances the marketability of the individual as he/she prepares to enter the world of permanent employment. The vocal music major will need to sing in different languages such as German, French and even Latin. The science major will want to read articles in his/her field published in the original language, be it French or German or in any of the other second languages used to publish in today’s academic, business and professional world. The social worker, particularly in the United States, the fifth largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, will need Spanish on the job, especially in the regions with large Latino populations. The pre-medical student will be more competitive in his field with an acquired knowledge of a second language such as Latin since it will increase his/her grasp of medical terms.

These are but a few of the reasons why it is necessary for everyone to achieve proficiency in one of the second languages that USC Aiken offers. We in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures are encouraging students, staff, administration, faculty and the Aiken community in general to take advantage of the second languages we offer by studying the language of their choice at the proficiency level. We encourage you to direct questions and/or comments to faculty of the department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures.

Dr. Víctor Manuel Durán, Chair
Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures
USC Aiken