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The benefits of being bilingual


Texas is filled with multilingual people with access to a plethora of opportunities because of their improved communication skills.

Gloria Velásquez, senior lecturer in Spanish, said learning a second language will help open the doors for many jobs in the competitive world.

“A bilingual person brings to an employer a different asset,” Velásquez said. “A person who is bilingual is going to get more jobs than someone who is not bilingual.”

Velásquez said she hears from her students about how speaking Spanish has helped them in their professions. She and her colleague, Alba Melgar, senior lecturer in Spanish, conducted a report on job requirements in the United States. She said there are 60,000 job openings that list knowing an additional language as a requirement.

Eric Johnson, political science senior, has studied Spanish since 2013 and hopes to use his skills in Latin American studies. For people with particular jobs, he said speaking a different language helps create a dynamic to connect with people from another country.

“That is your link to your career,” Johnson said. “It is really important to link that language to those people that you’ll be interacting with.”

As the economy becomes more globalized, learning to speak another language is becoming a necessity.

Velásquez helped set up the Babel’s Legacy of Modern Success event through the Modern Language Department. The panels centered on guest speakers from law enforcement and social work experiences to explain the importance of being fluent in another language for a job.

“All can be lost in translation between communication,” Velásquez said. “If you don’t have a translator, there can be a miscommunication issue.”

Johnson said learning Spanish was difficult at first. Being familiar with foreign words becomes easier once you understand the culture and if you are motivated to learn more.

“For someone to understand that, and reciprocate that they understand what you are saying and being able to interact back and forth, that’s all done by language,” Johnson said.

Students who are interested in taking on another language must be willing to learn and engage themselves in its culture, Velásquez said.

“When I say (to students) ‘immerse yourself,’ I say to use the sources around you,” Velásquez said. “Train your ears with the sounds you didn’t grow up with.”

Velásquez said university is one of the few places where there are many opportunities to learn a foreign language if students are willing to take advantage of them.

“There are many ways for you to practice, it’s just a matter if you want to practice,” Velásquez said.