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The Importance Of Foreign Language Education

3526 words - 14 pages

The Importance of Foreign Language Education

The main goal of learning a new language is to be able to communicate in that language. The ERIC database’s thesaurus defines language proficiency as the capacity of a person to accurately and fluently communicate using language (Language Proficiency, 2004). While gaining this ability is a main reason for studying a foreign language, there are many other reasons why everyone should take the time to do so. Occupational, cultural and developmental benefits are some of the most prominent ones to be had. Occupational benefits are perhaps the most important and widely known ones associated with language learning. When a person speaks more than one language, they are usually highly valued by employers. Favor in an employer’s eyes can obviously lead to desirable promotions and salary increases for multilingual workers. A CNN writer reported, “When a manager decides whether to promote on of two people with identical technical skills, the better communicator is more likely to get the nod” (Hall, 2001). Companies, especially ones with international operations, like to have a staff that is able to interact with partners and associates in overseas markets, as well as multinational clients here at home in the United States. This allows them to create and maintain positive relationships and increase revenue. One authority affirms the nature of such companies by saying that many of the operations of international corporations occur on a on a truly global scale (Gutek, 1993, p. 233). For companies that do not have global operations, hiring a staff that is multilingual is sure to facilitate the creation of a profitable international department. Small businesses that sell foreign goods, as well as larger corporations with existing global relationships can all benefit by hiring employees who speak more than one language; they show their appreciation by offering better positions and pay to such workers.

In addition to business, the government is also reliant on speakers of foreign languages. In the United States government, organizations like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) need bilingual individuals to staff critical departments that help to ensure national security. However, Paul Simon, chairman of the National Foreign Language Center, says that currently, U.S. government agencies that deal with national security are short on officials that are fluent in other languages (Simon, 2001). Consequently, essential positions for maintaining homeland security have remained unfilled. Since the war on terrorism has been very much in the national spotlight recently, one might infer with confidence that the government is willing to pay top dollar to staff multilingual positions that are critical to maintaining national security. There is a severe lack of Americans who are proficient in the necessary languages, so should the government be able to locate someone who is, they will...

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