Opinion: Language as a Requirement

As a place of higher learning, college is supposed to give us the tools we need to excel in our intended careers. Our courses are intended to prepare us for the real world and globalization is a reality our generation will have to face – a reality we should embrace.

Advertising, Public Relations, Sports Communication, and Journalism are all concentrations that fall under Marist’s Communication major. They are all also fields that require extensive face to face contact with people of all backgrounds on a daily basis.

According to a 2015 report by Instituto Cervantes, it is estimated that by 2050, the United States is expected to have 138 million Spanish speakers, making it the largest Spanish speaking country in the world. In major U.S. cities such as Los Angeles and Miami, Spanish is already spoken just as frequently, if not more frequently than English on a daily basis.

In order to be the best we can be, it is essential that Marist requires its Communication majors to take more language courses as a part of the major curriculum.

Brent Sverdloff, a Marist adjunct professor of Spanish, says the ability to Spanish and English has unlocked so many doors and granted him a life full of adventure.

“Without languages, I wouldn’t have had the adventures I’ve had. I’ve run with bulls in Spain, I’ve been to the Galapagos Islands, I’ve gotten lost in the Amazon jungle, I’ve run out of gas in the Andes I’ve been caught in political riots in the Basque Country in Spain; I’ve met some very interesting people and have had a lot of cool jobs”.

Sverdloff says his hero is Indiana Jones because he took something as dry as archeology and made it full of emotion, romance, and adventure. “I thought to myself, the world needs somebody like Indiana Jones for linguistics,” said Sverdloff.

Sverdloff said he doesn’t believe he is Indiana Jones himself, but after everything he has experienced and achieved he loves teaching because he can share the gift of language to others. He said he tells his students, “I’m passing the baton on to you, now you get out there and live a life full of adventure”.

So even if we aren’t running with bulls in Spain or trekking through the Amazon jungle, as Communication majors we can still benefit so much from learning another language.

For whichever concentration, the ability to speak to interviewees, potential clients, or professional athletes in their own language is incredibly valuable. It creates deeper connections, more accurate information, and richer stories.

Becci Casas, a Marist senior and Public Relations major already speaks two languages, says being bilingual has been a great advantage in her professional life so far.

“It is very helpful on my resume and has become useful at work, especially if I am the only Spanish speaker. It allows me to stand out in comparison to other candidates and shows my value to a company,” said Casas.

Casas also agrees that students should be required to take more language courses because they would better understand and appreciate how hard it is to learn, master, and be fluent in another language.

“Not only would students be learning the language, but would also have a better understanding of the background and culture of that country and their native tongue. So many non-Americans migrate to the United States and make the effort to learn the language, but it’s less often that you see the opposite,” said Casas.

As students looking to excel in a field of constant interaction and communication, language should be at the forefront of our studies. Our generation should defy the pattern of education before us and strive to have language held on an equal pedestal as the rest of our studies.

Requiring Communication students to take more language courses would be a small push in the right direction.Lowell Thomas Communication Center, Marist College

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