There are many benefits which can be derived from learning foreign languages, and although it is not an easy process, persons must be prepared to give of their time and effort and remain committed, in order to succeed.
This was the main message delivered by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Senator Dr. Shantal Munro-Knight, as she delivered remarks to the welcoming class of the Spanish Language Course being held by the Venezuela Institute for Culture and Cooperation of the Embassy of Venezuela, in collaboration with the National Library Service, at the National Union of Public Workers, Dalkeith, St. Michael, last Friday.
Noting that Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the world, with more than 400 million speakers in the North, Central, and South Americas, Senator Munro-Knight said: “The idea of a ‘global village’ is fast becoming a reality. It is vital that we enlarge our worldview and reach an understanding of, and appreciation for, the cultures of the other peoples who share the planet with us. The more languages a person speaks, the better access he or she has to different people and resources from other countries and cultures.
“Students who learn other languages also communicate in culturally appropriate ways, while showing appreciation and understanding of others, and maintaining a spirit of openness and respect.”
Dr. Munro-Knight also noted that learning foreign languages opens doors to better job opportunities and brings economic benefits to individuals as well as to the economies of countries.
“It is increasingly common in the global market that only being able to speak English is no longer sufficient, and a second language is required, especially in international business, banking, trade and telecommunications. In today’s world, the demand for bilingual employees is increasing, and a candidate who speaks any second language is more competitive in the workplace.
“Career-wise, professionals who are able to communicate in a second or third language are often at an advantage, since they can embrace additional responsibilities and job opportunities. Governments are aware of the importance of speaking more than one language and, in the last few decades, there has been a tendency to invest significant resources in teaching foreign languages,” she stressed.
Senator Munro-Knight added that the National Library Service was committed to meeting the needs of society for education, information and personal development, and its partnership with the Venezuelan Embassy would help Government to meet this important role, by enabling Barbadians to communicate better with Spanish-speaking people and provide them with a “better understanding of their rich heritage, society and culture”.
She expressed appreciation to the Venezuelan Embassy for assisting Government with this endeavour and for making “the cultural and educational experience possible”. Dr. Munro-Knight also urged the welcoming class to be committed.
“Learning any language is not easy; it is a process, and takes time and effort. I thank everyone of you here … for your participation and commitment. Never give up! You can only be successful if you complete anything you intend to do. Make the best of this learning opportunity as you discover the diverse and rich culture of Venezuela,” she said.