Foreign Language could be an asset to job seekers

Stephanie Toone

With an increasingly diverse population in the United States, it is not enough to know one language.

The change in American culture has given students who are fluent in another language an edge in the job market when they graduate.

Career Services Center Director Judy Owen said knowing another language would be beneficial in many career fields, especially in business and hotel management.

“With as many Hispanics in our population, we should know Spanish,” Owen said. “There are a lot of individuals going into business areas where there is global business… It would be valid for them to know the language.”

Approximately 17.5 million people in the United States speak Spanish, according to a study done by Central Oregon Community College. The study predicts that there will be 51 million Spanish-speaking people in America by 2010.

French companies have nearly 1,200 subsidiaries across America that employ 400,000 people.

Louisville senior Dan Padgett is fluent in Spanish. Padgett is the assistant shipping clerk with the Lord Corporation. The company often communicates with the Mercedes Benz company in Mexico. He said he is the first person considered when the company must communicate with their Mexican partners.

Padgett said there is a need for bilingual speakers in sales and human resources. In these fields, he said there is a great need for good communication.

“When you have barriers in language between two managers, it’s going to be a problem interculturally and internationally,” Padgett said.

He said fluency in Spanish does not only help him in his business life, but in his day-to -day life, it helps him to communicate with people from different cultures.

Modern language and intercultural studies assistant professor Alvaro Vergara-Mery said that knowing a different language opens people’s horizons. He said nurses, doctors, social workers and paramedics will have to have to be fluent in Spanish.

But it’s not enough just to know the language.

“It is beneficial not only to know the language but also the culture,” Vergara-Mery said.

Knowing another language is also important when working with foreign customers.

Bob Stinnett, owner of World Insurance Agency, said the number of his Hispanic clientele has increased in the last several years.

Hispanic customers must have insurance policies explained thoroughly. Without translators, he said, it would be hard to communicate with them.

Stinnett said that it has affected his office “positively” to have Spanish-speaking personnel. He says that people should be able to speak several languages fluently.

The benefits that come from having bilingual employees seep down when people like Padgett graduate.

“If you are bilingual, they’re automatically going to put you at the top of the list,” Padgett said.

Reach Stephanie Toone at [email protected]