Primero Hay Que Aprender Español. Ranhou Zai Xue Zhongwen.

(First learn Spanish. Then study Chinese.)

In the December 29, 2010, New York Times ,
Nicholas Kristof recommends Spanish comprehension for all Americans. He concedes that Mandarin is the “it” foreign language in schools right now and indeed, recommends studying it, but Spanish should come first as it is no longer as “foreign” a language in the United States as it once was and will have increased importance as the economic mixing of Central, South, and North America continues.

For an arts student, adding a language not only offers a passage to other cultures but an escape from the sealed envelope of one’s own. Crucial, isn’t it?

The added employment credential is of course, not a trivial benefit in the current climate.


Philanthropist posted on January 1, 2011 at 7:56 am

English, Spanish and which is next as regards numbers of native speakers? Hindi. Next is Indonesian (though debatable), and Bangla (Bengali), then Russian, German, French (ranks only no. 12 or so), then Panjabi, Japanese, Swahili, Marathi, Telugu, Tamil, Cantonese, All these should be available in SOME schools and colleges. The purpose is liberal arts education and broad thinking, and ability of Americans to put aside old prejudices, not to speak of trade and diplomacy. And yes, start in the lower grades..
Stephanie Mcnealy

Cynthia posted on May 3, 2011 at 3:23 pm

I hope people would pick languages to learn based on their interests in culture or society or history or archeology or travel, not because a particular language is “in” right now. But I do agree with you that learning a language is window into learning a new culture. We become better people when we understand how others are and live. Thanks.