Should I Learn a Second Language

The answer is oui (that means yes). It’s no surprise that Leyden offers many opportunities for taking a language class, such as Italian, French, or Spanish. As part of the curriculum they also offer language courses at the regular, and honors level, while only few are offered at the AP level.

Senior Elizabeth Preciado decided to take Italian because it is the most similar to her first language, Spanish. After taking Italian for the last three years she was able to go to Italy this past summer as part of the Italian exchange program. She commented, “I highly recommend that if you plan on going somewhere you take the language and you learn it, you love it, you live it, everything.” She has moved on to Italian V this year and hopes to return to her Amici Italiani next summer. Meanwhile, she stays in touch with her new friends and host by skyping and chatting, putting her Italian to the test even back in the States. Eli doesn’t regret her decision of taking on another language because “It’s a great addition to my life… I mean, I like learning new languages, and I feel like it’s going to help me later in the future for my career.”

Senior Yailin Quiñones was lucky enough to travel to France this past June with the French exchange program after completing her third year of this language. Knowing both English and Spanish, she wanted to take a new language that would test her skills.  Certainly, there are not a lot of people that speak French at East Leyden so going to France was certainly the ultimate test. There are a lot of things to love about the culture: “Well I enjoy the food, talking to people, I like the accents… Hopefully I [can] go to France again and visit my French exchange student.”  Taking a language opened up doors to Yailin that she never thought were possible, adding “I never thought I would ever go to France, and then when I went it changed my mind and my view on life. Now I want to travel.”

Mati Szelazek, senior, has not been able to put his Spanish to use outside of the country, but definitely uses it on the weekends. He is grateful that he took a language that is so common because he “[uses] it at work because… some of the managers don’t actually speak English. I also speak Spanish with my girlfriend’s grandma sometimes.” Hoping to enroll into a college, he knows having four years of a language will come in handy for college applications. After moving on to Spanish V AP he is grateful for taking a language after seeing how many opportunities open up for him as a result of knowing more than two languages.

As these fellow peers retold, taking a language opened up doors for them that they never thought were possible. For two of these students, they were able to travel across the world for a few weeks. For another student, he was able to receive a promotion because he spoke three languages. According to The Economist “Assuming just a 1% real salary increase per year and a 2% average real return over 40 years, a 2% language bonus turns into an extra $67,000.” Once college students graduate and go out into the real world looking for jobs, those who know more than one language have a higher chance of getting the job. Especially those students who want to pursue a career internationally, taking on another language is crucial to their success.

Although taking on an ‘academic elective,’ let alone a (foreign) language, is difficult, it is evident -at least to these students – that this work does pay off. Taking a language for all four years will help students stand out in college applications. It gives students the opportunity to travel to a new country even before they graduate high school. How many students can say they went to France when they were 17? Not many. So gracias, merci, and grazie to all the teachers who impact these students lives.

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