A couple of weeks ago, I received notification that my organization received a grant for our Language 4 Life program. The objective of this program is to provide a six week intensive spanish language learning module for small business owners/entrepreneurs who would like to extend their goods and services to the hispanic community.
Although I am very excited about this venture, I can not help but think about the fact that programs such as this is needed on such a wider level. Of course, you know I am talking about those of us that are public administrators. The U.S. is one of few countries that does not require proficiency in a second language, however; because we are such a welcoming country it is getting to the point that if you do not speak a second language you are not marketable or competitive in the job market or field.
How ironic is this? When I was growing up, French was the language that everyone wanted to learn. Spanish was a close second, but not that important, now it is imperative. However; Arabic and Chinese are also becoming essential languages to Americans for various reasons.
As a public administrator, it is essential that we are able to communicate, but this is becoming a very difficult task because of the barrier of languages. PA is a field that resonates throughout the world, and although we as individuals can not master all languages, there are some that we should consider crucial. Spanish is my number one priority; and I have resolved to take classes, read books, listen to CD’s and download lessons on my iPod. My goal is to learn to speak, read and write in Spanish. This, in my opinion, will expand my capability as a practitioner and as a human being. I will be able to connect in ways that I can not at this very moment.
My call to action is for more programs such as the Language 4 Life program for practitioners. It’s important! In order for the viability of our field and the expansion of services and true globalization, we must learn to speak the language.