Make more language programs at WSU

The U.S. is a diverse place, learning more than one language creates cultural understanding of different backgrounds



There are hundreds of languages spoken in the U.S. but there’s little over a handful taught at WSU. People who know more than one language have higher salaries, perform better on tests and communicate better between cultures, traits beneficial to all students.

ALIVIA HILLER, Evergreen columnist

It is important more people learn other languages through community programs and institutions like WSU because so many people come from different backgrounds and speak a variety of languages.

Knowing multiple languages becomes increasingly beneficial with thousands of languages and demographic change.

Learning new languages can help with future jobs by allowing you to communicate with more people. Many businesses are a part of the global market and knowing another language can help land business deals, communicate with customers and clients, and can provide higher incomes in any field.

People who speak at least two languages are hard to come by which allows for greater opportunities for them. Multilingual workers earn about 5 to 20 percent more pay per hour than those who do not speak a second language, according to the United Education Institution College.

The process of learning a new language can also help improve brain function. It sharpens cognitive abilities, leading to greater achievement in school and higher test score results, according to a study done by Janice Hostler Stewart in 2005. Higher test scores can lead to better scholarships and college opportunities, opening many doors for opportunities later in life.

English is popular and nearly universal, but knowing another can benefit understanding cultures within a community. The most common languages spoken in the U.S are English, German, Spanish, Chinese and French, but in reality, more than 300 languages are spoken throughout the U.S., according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Mahmoud Abualtin, a freshman international student from Amman, Jordan, knows the importance of learning another language.

“I started learning English since preschool,” Abualtin said. “When I meet people from the same country as me I think in Arabic and talk to them in Arabic. It’s not very popular, but it benefits me to know a second language.”

A new program in Whitman County allows its community to have access to more languages and better immersion in their study. The Whitman County Library recently implemented a new online language program called Mango Languages. This program invites members of the community with a library card to pick from over 70 languages and use its mobile app to learn them.

Sarah Phelan, a public services librarian at the Whitman County Library, said the library is the community’s main learning resource, so it made sense to include a more accessible app.

“We [previously] had a different platform that offered 7 languages and no mobile app,” Phelan said. “Mango is free, easy and fun.”

The new Mango Language program at the library will bring new learning opportunities to the community. WSU has a great language program, but could offer more languages. By incorporating more programs like Mango at WSU and in other Washington communities, more people can learn the invaluable skill of multiple languages.

With over 300 languages spoken in the United States, it’s obvious we can’t master every language, but students would benefit from more options. WSU offers just two language majors for students pursuing only one major — Spanish and French — and five language minors.

More languages should be made available as majors. This would encourage more students to learn a new language or continue one they learned in high school. It would ultimately give them an advantage in any profession.

Learning a new language connects you to more people and, consequentially, more job opportunities. The global market is expanding. As it does, there’s a greater need for employees who can speak multiple languages.

Starting a language early-on cannot only help you in school, but allows you to communicate with and understand more communities. Knowing multiple languages is good for everyone and WSU should create more opportunities in school to learn these languages.