Other scholars point to a scarcity of African-American foreign language teachers as role models, while some suggest a lack of exposure and preparation in school, or a concern among black students that studying a foreign language is “acting white.”
There are many benefits to studying a foreign language, including helping students boost their creativity and abstract thinking, improving their overall academic achievement and increasing their chances of getting into college. Learning another language also leads to greater respect and tolerance of other cultures.
And in a global marketplace, bilingualism means job opportunities. Foreign language proficiency provides you with more flexibility and makes you more marketable. According to Careerbuilder.com, employers highly value bilingual employees, and are willing to them between 5 and 20 percent more per hour than other workers. The demand is especially great in the South and West.
In addition, corporations want people who are better positioned to deal with their diverse client and vendor base. Skilled, more versatile employees are a matter of competitive advantage in the business world. The top industries for bilingual speakers are financial services, healthcare, sales and marketing, and social services including consumer credit counselors, cross-cultural counselors and bilingual teachers.
The lesson learned in all of this is simple: step up your game and take some Spanish classes. Or learn French, Arabic, Swahili, Mandarin, Japanese or another language of your choosing. And if you already speak a foreign language, brush up and boost your proficiency. It could help land you a job and secure your future.
Follow David A. Love on Twitter at @davidalove