Language learning

Diane Bou Khalil, Writer

Whether I am at work, bumping into neighbors, getting to know my classmates or even just watching TV, I have noticed that Spanish seems to be a common language everywhere I go, particularly here in Chicago.

I grew up speaking Arabic and English while also studying French as a third language throughout my formative years.  Since Spanish is the second most prevalent language in the United States, it was on my bucket list to enroll in a Spanish class. 

I was finally able to study Spanish this semester as an electives course. Even though it is a beginner’s class, it has been one of the best decisions I have made while here at NEIU. 

First of all, you are your own competition as learning a new language is a challenge. Actually, with the right attitude, learning a new language can be an opportunity rather than a burden. You are digesting new, foreign information, which stimulates the feelings of wonder and fascination that we feel when discovering something for ourselves for the first time. 

Second, because you are constantly practicing and learning new vocabulary and grammar, your brain itches. Of course, mental stimulation is a good sign as it also means your memory and focus is improving.

Third, once I started familiarizing myself with both the Spanish vocabulary and basic sentence structure of a new language, I began recognizing words that I had previously heard in song lyrics. So even your music genre preferences expand. 

Fourth, the more I learn the language, the more interested I am in learning the culture. In my Spanish class, I was fortunate enough to conduct a project on the geography and culture of Cuba. Now I enjoy searching for the best restaurants to sample Mexican, Peruvian, Cuban and Puerto Rican cuisine.

I also developed an affinity for travel. This class forced me to broaden my travel wishlist because when you learn a new language, you are better equipped to communicate and function in foreign countries. Additionally, you get to show off what you have learned by taking your lessons outside of the classroom and into the real world. 

Finally, you can add each language to your resumé. You will be surprised by how many job opportunities open up once you learn a new language, especially in fields seeking bilingual employees.

When you are constantly studying for courses that are a part of your major’s concentrated curriculum, it can sometimes seem boring and redundant. But learning a new language never gets boring. In fact, it actually becomes fun if you enjoy challenging yourself.

I recommend that students enroll in at least one foreign language course throughout their collegiate career. If I had not taken this course, I would have regretted not learning a new language as I would have forfeited the opportunities and new perspectives afforded to me by expanding my horizons.