Want to land a good job? Learn to speak Ghetto!
Want a job that will earn you lots of money? A job that pays you to travel around the world? A job in which your knowledge and expertise will be valued by businesses across the Western Hemisphere?
Then you should study "the language of living in the ghetto", as grammatically and culturally challenged former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich called the third most commonly spoken language in the world - the language that the rest of us know as Spanish. Hey, if that's ghetto, then I want to be ghettofabulous!
Kids, you want to gain a valuable skill that improves your chances of employment? Parents, you want your kids to be able to have, as Gingrich might say "the job of working in the office"? Learn Spanish. Now.
I love Spanish, and took it all through high school, even taking community college courses with my mother, who understood that Spanish would be the key to communicating in worldwide business in the 21st century. Spanish eventually lost out to Mandarin in my life, much to my mother's initial chagrin and my Russian grandmother's horror ("China? Not Red China! Oh, Jesus! Protect Andrea from the comuneests!").
But I wish I had stuck with Spanish, in addition to the other langauges. Do you know how many jobs there are for technical writers who can read and write in Spanish? The possibilities are nearly endless! Mind you, this is true for Chinese as well, and if I still spoke Arabic, I'm pretty sure I'd have a solid position at the CIA. But Spanish is versatile and useful, and opens all kinds of doors to employment.
Learn Early, Learn Well
One thing about second language acquisition is that it gets harder as we get older. This is a well-studied phenomenon in linguistics - the "language window", or the age at which humans can absorb new languages and speak them with fluency, usually closes around age 13. This isn't to say that you can't become fluent in another language after age 13, just that it is that much harder.
My mother grew up speaking Polish and English, so she understands a whole range of Slavic languages, and used to delight my Yugoslavian college roommate by translating her conversational Serbian with relative ease. I, however, grew up speaking nothing but English, and although it hasn't stopped me from successfully learning other languages, it did make it infinitely harder. (My dad, on the other hand, grew up in Canada learning a Canadian approximation of French, in which "Comment allez vous?" comes out as "Komo tally voo?".)
Speaking a foreign language becomes immeasurably easier if you just plain HAVE to speak it. Trust me - living abroad is the only way I could get my Chinese from basic to fluent. I also think that living abroad is something that all Americans should try, at least once. It doesn't have to be expensive. As much as I would love to live in Costa Rica, I would happily save my money and live in Mexico, or Ecuador, if I was simply trying to learn the language affordably.
It's possible to teach English in Asia and make a decent sum of money while studying a foreign language. Japan, China, and Korea all pay teachers fairly well and require very little practical experience. You've always wanted to learn Thai? Jump on an TESL message board and find some jobs. I always advise younger people to do this, but the truth is, I met plenty of married, older, and even retired people living in Asia, teaching ESL and having a blast learning a new language. It's just that the foreign language skills greatly affect job prospects when you are younger.
I teach ESL to refugee women, and the ones who speak English with their children and watch English TV are highly proficient. The ones who live in Chinatown and never speak to anyone who isn't Vietnamese never really get very far. It's a simply matter of surrounding yourself with a new language - you'll eventually start thinking and dreaming in it. Then you know you've arrived.
Learn Spanish with Newt
Just look at Newt! He's been learning Spanish on the sly, and listen to him talk! Personally, I think his cabeza is a touch estupido if you comprende my Espanol, but you have to give him credit for trying.
Actually, no, you don't.
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