“We Americans have yet to really learn our own antecedents, and sort them, to unify them. They will be found ampler than has been supposed, and in widely different sources ... To that composite American identity of the future, Spanish character will supply some of the most needed parts."
Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
“The Father of American Poetry”
As the Spanish language and the variety of cultures that speak Spanish come to play a greater role in the United States, it is becoming increasingly reasonable to consider our country as bilingual. Of the over 350 million Spanish-speakers in the world, approximately 40 million reside in the United States, effectively making it the country with the third-largest Spanish-speaking population in the world. The continuing growth in the number of Spanish-speakers in the United States guarantees that the importance of Spanish in this country will only increase.
The ability to read, write, and speak in Spanish, as well as having an understanding of the variety of cultures of the Spanish-speaking world, are strong professional assets. USC Aiken recognizes that a knowledge of Spanish has become an advantage, if not a necessity, for employment in a wide variety of fields, such as: medicine, law, commerce, and industry. And for those who are thinking of pursuing an academic career, teachers of Spanish and teachers who speak Spanish are currently in great demand at all levels of education.
USC Aiken faculty educate students for our multilingual and multicultural society in a variety of ways. We prepare students in the Spanish, French, and German languages through 2nd Language Acquisition courses taught using the Communicative Approach. Spanish students are encouraged to study abroad through USC Aiken’s Maymester Spanish Culture & Language Immersion Program at Universitas Castellae in Valladolid, Spain. Our upper-level Spanish literature and culture courses provide students an understanding of the Spanish-speaking world and enhance their career opportunities in our culturally pluralistic society. Knowing a second language is a great way to open up new career opportunities and become more competitive in the job market!
At UofSC Aiken, we recently launched a Spanish major with two concentrations: Spanish-English Translation and Interpretation and Spanish Language, Literatures, and Cultures. We also now offer minors in each of these concentrations. So students can major in one of our Spanish concentrations, and ―at the same time― minor in the other concentration, become certified as a translator and/or interpreter, and find employment immediately after graduation. Our Spanish minors would also pair very well with degrees in business administration and management, nursing, English, professional writing, education, art history, and sociology, among others. Pairing one of our Spanish minors with any of the aforementioned would help prepare students for our multicultural society and multilingual economy, so they can find work immediately after graduation and be prepared to take on the world!
Aside from gaining a greater variety of employment opportunities, bilinguals have more social and cultural opportunities. Bilinguals gain a new and more refined perspective of the world we live in. Bilingualism improves attention span, problem-solving skills, multi-tasking skills, and decision-making skills. Knowing more than one language helps with cognitive flexibility and adaptability, improves memory, and can slow the effects of old age. Bilingualism also promotes open-mindedness, empathy, and worldliness. The majority of the world’s population is bilingual and therefore reaping the aforementioned benefits of bilingualism. At USC Aiken we offer our students the opportunity to break out of the monolingual minority, and into the culturally and linguistically varied modern world. So, don’t be left out! Learn another language!