Language proficiency proves beneficial for careers

Roberto Hodge, Multicultural Editor

Those who become proficient in a second language typically produce higher scores and have greater cognitive development, a sense of cultural pluralism and an improved self-concept, according to The Global Language Project website.

However, being bilingual and having language proficiency are different.

Stephen Canfield, the chair of the foreign languages department, said those who are bilingual are usually comfortable and have an ease of switching back and forth between two languages, while having proficiency is being highly skilled in a language.

Aside from English, Chinese is the most used language in 2015; English is also one of the primary languages for business and science, Canfield said.

Canfield said having language proficiency is like having any other skill, and through learning a new language, it is possible to know about other cultures.

He said it is also a primary skill to get certain jobs.

One of the advantages to being proficient in a foreign language is the ability to be an interpreter, which is someone who not only translates verbatim what someone says, but also through actions.

Canfield said the government is the largest employer of foreign language speakers with up to 1,500 positions open for those who are language specific. Those within the military, Peace Corps, FBI and even Border Patrol hire those who know more languages.

Canfield, who knows French and Latin, said sometimes those who are proficient in languages will get a call from someone in the court house asking to help with interpretation, which he has done.

Nationally, enrollment in languages other than English have been increasing. Spanish and French have increased by 5 percent, Arabic by 46 percent, Korean by 19 percent and many more since 2006, according to the Modern Language Association 2010 press release.

“We want students to get at least to intermediate high if they don’t do study abroad, if they do study abroad, they need advanced low,” Canfield said.

Canfield is talking about the 2012 language proficiently guidelines from the American Council on the teaching of foreign languages, which ranges from novice low to distinguished.

However, because of Eastern’s declining enrollment, courses in Chinese, Russian and Italian have not been taught at the university. Canfield said not having those courses has been a way to cut back on costs because of not being able to have the proper instructors for these courses.

Roberto Hodge can be reached 581-2812 or [email protected].