Professors and students share advantages of being bilingual

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    During the first annual three-day TCU Language and Culture Fest, foreign language professors emphasized the message that being bilingual can help students get ahead in the job search.

    The campus-wide festival took place Sept. 24-26 and focused on raising cultural awareness and sensitivity among students. In celebrating the diversity of cultures across the globe, various professors said they hope students can use bilingual skills to thrive in the professional world.

    Professors from both the Department of Modern Language Studies, which offers courses in Chinese, French, German, Italian and Japanese, and theDepartment of Spanish and Hispanic Studiesshared the importance and potential advantages of being bilingual.

    “It makes you more marketable; it makes you able to understand and work with a different demographic, so there are a lot of benefits,” Spanish instructor Karen Martin said.

    English is sophomore kinesiology major Jessica Masrin’s first language. However, she is also fluent in Indonesian and speaks some Chinese.

    “I think it just helps all around [to be] understanding of different cultures and [to be] able to see the world from different perspectives and different languages and how different people communicate,” Masrin said.

    Spanish instructor Mary McKinney said demand for bilingual employees has increased over the decades. Fluency in a second language can set students apart in the tough job market, she said.

    Arturo Flores, professor of Spanish, also said fluency in a foreign language can make students marketable internationally.

    Senior political science major Daniel Diaz said he believes having taken Spanish courses throughout his time at the university and having traveled abroad to Spain, Portugal and Ecuador will improve his job prospects after graduation.

    “I really want to get into politics with the United Nations or something international, and going abroad and learning Spanish gives me that advantage,” he said.

    Scott Williams, associate professor of German studies, said fluency in German gives students the ability to compete for jobs in one of the largest markets in the world.

    “Germany exports more manufactured goods than any other country except China,” Williams said. “It is the strongest economy and one of the largest countries in Europe.”

    Guangyan (Gwen) Chen, instructor of Chinese, said more and more students are beginning to learn Chinese. Chinese is one of the fastest-growing fields of study in the United States, she said.

    Sharon Fairchild, associate professor of French and chair of the Department of Modern Language Studies, said studying a foreign language gives students the tools to thrive abroad, even if they are not yet completely fluent in the language of the country where they decide to work or reside.

    “You [students] have more cultural sensitivity, you pay attention to how the culture sees things [and] says things – how their society is organized,” she said.