Language has its benefits

According to the 2000 U.S. Census Report, Spanish was the most common foreign language spoken in the U.S. Spanish speakers grew by about 60 percent, up from 14 percent (31.8 million) in 1990 and 11 percent (23.1 million) in 1980.

Speaking a second language could also yield professional returns.

This gives weight to an ongoing discussion about the benefits of speaking more than one language.

DeAundra Best, a 21-year-old Jacksonville native said Spanish is “expanding my horizons.”

When declaring a major of her choice, she chose Spanish education. She was first introduced to Spanish when her brother was taking a course. Helping him study the language sparked her attention.

“I thought that speaking another language was interesting,” Best said.

Best said she loves “to travel and communicate with new people,” and plans to make her living as a translator.

The Census reported that South Florida has one of the nation’s largest Spanish-speaking populations. Vincent Torrence said he has to consider Spanish-speaking customers to attract a broader range of customers. He is a financial analyst with Primerica Financial Services. The Miami native said an employee speaking more than one language “makes any company that much more competitive.”

In health care situations, an employee that speaks more than one language can help patients that don’t. Erin Bunche, a human resource specialist at Capital Regional Medical Center said while speaking other languages is great, the hospital does not discriminate against patients or employees.

Some people are trying to make a difference, by making sure others are becoming more diverse.

Karen Mitchell is teaching a free class at Walker-Ford Community Center. The class is a ministry of sorts. “By the grace of GOD we will start our class on Thursday (February 17).” Class was supposed to begin Thursday at 4:40 p.m.

Mitchell is the coordinator of Abroad Education at FAMU International Education and Development Program. She is also the daughter of Ivy Mitchell, FAMU Spanish teacher and director of the Honors Program. Both were born in the South American country of Guyana. Karen Mitchell’s first language was English. After immigrating to the United States she was introduced to Spanish in middle school. From there she never let it go. “I was always intrigued by foreign languages,” Karen Mitchell said.

This intrigue led her to accept an invitation to teach a class.

“It’s important because sometimes when a student sees that they are good at something they get confidence in other areas,” she said. “I want this class to educate children in the community,” Karen Mitchell said.

She said she’s concerned about the world becoming more globalized. She said speaking another language enhances résumés. The class is her contribution to her students’ competitive edge.

Being bi- or multi lingual can benefit people in various ways. For more information on the Spanish class contact the Walker Ford Community Center at 891-3970. Log on to to polish your Espanol.

Contact Zachary Rinkins at