Taking a foreign language gives students an advantage later in life

Stacy Leiber

Stacy Leiber

¡Hola! Bonjour! Guten Tag! These are just a few phrases students can learn from the SDSU Modern Languages Department. Other than Spanish, French and German, the other foreign languages offered at SDSU are Lakota, Arabic and Chinese, according to SDSU’s Modern Language Web site. ?

“The knowledge of the language opens many doors that are closed to the casual tourist,” said Eckhard Rolz, an assistant professor of German in the Modern Language Department. Rolz encouraged every student to consider taking a modern language course and recommended taking a language course that relates to the student’s major. He also said that any student interested in a foreign language course should sit in on a class session and see what it is about.

“We use modern teaching methods. Our classrooms are all smart classrooms with up-to-date technology. We also try to make learning fun,” said Rolz. “Learning a foreign language is a lot like learning a sport. To become a good tennis player, one has to practice for many years. A student learns a lot in eight semesters and can speak very well.”

Briana Wirth, a sophomore math major, also recommended taking a language class, even if it is not to learn the language perfectly. She said that the language classes really open your eyes to other cultures.

?”I definitely feel more comfortable in settings where Spanish is used,” said Wirth. “I am far from fluent, but if you are even in a situation where you have to speak with someone who doesn’t know English, you can tell that they appreciate you for trying.”

Many students who have taken foreign language classes say they really enjoyed the structure, environment, learning and ability to understand different cultures in a greater depth.

“My professor had a lot of energy and kept things fun,” said Wirth. “You could tell that she really had a passion for not only the Spanish language, but also their culture.”

Spanish, French and German tend to be the most popular courses chosen as they are the three languages offered at SDSU as a major or minor. The Lakota language is only offered through an online distance-learning course, along with Arabic and Chinese, which are only offered when instructors are available.

At the beginning of the semester when students are ready to start learning the language of their choice, there is a foreign language placement test that determines which course-introductory, intermediate or advanced-is best for them. If a student tests into a higher level, they will receive credits for the lower level courses they tested out of as long as they hold a C in the upper level class. ?

Students who choose foreign language courses for a major, minor or to fulfill a Bachelor of Arts degree requirement of fourteen credits of a foreign language are also given the opportunity to study abroad during the summer months through the Modern Language Department. While traveling-the trips typically last four to five weeks-the students can receive six credits toward the language they are studying. Besides credits earned, they are given the opportunity to learn and experience first hand everything about a different culture.

Many opportunities present themselves when a student has experience in foreign languages. “A company can teach an employee many skills but not a foreign language,” Rolz said. “An employer knows that this person is willing to learn and can learn.”

Having a skill-such as being able to understand and speak a foreign language-is becoming more necessary in an endlessly changing world. The languages spoken in the United States have become very diverse over the past decade, making employers seek out employees who can understand more than just English. Students pursuing a business major or international studies major are encouraged to take a foreign language minor to compliment their major and broaden their career opportunities. ?

Every professor, instructor and student who was asked which language is best to take had a different answer. Spanish instructors recommend Spanish, German instructors, German, and so on. Professors did state, however, that German is most like the English language, making it a little bit easier to comprehend.

While English is the most modern language on campus today, professors said Spanish was the best for the work force because of the diversity in the United States.

Students who are interested in foreign language can contact the Modern Language Department at 688-5801 or stop by the basement of the SNF building room 121.

#1.882882:999296778.jpg:foreignlanguageclass_SBweb.jpg::Stephen Brua