Friday, October 16, 2015

A student's perspective: Isabela Velasquez

The language department at Bryant University is a small community, but regardless of that, the majority of students are very committed to mastering their language of choice. Bryant offers Spanish, French, Italian and Chinese. Each of the four languages that we have here at Bryant has their own organization that hosts regular meetings and events. In addition, Bryant has a chapter of Phi Sigma Iota, which is a language honors society.

I am a language student at Bryant who is concentrating in Spanish. One campus activity that I enjoy every year is the PLAFF festival. PLAFF is the Providence Latin American Film Festival and each year they show movies at Bryant. It’s always a great experience to have the opportunity to watch movies in another language and from another culture. I especially enjoy PLAFF because of the fact that the movies are in Spanish, so I get to have this experience with the language that I am studying.

I studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain in the spring of 2015. Studying a language definitely promotes the spirit of going abroad and makes it a little less intimidating going to a country whose primary language is not English. I would say that the majority of students go to a country that is oriented to the language that they are studying. That is absolutely the reason that I went to Spain. I also know other Spanish language students that have gone to Chile, Argentina and Costa Rica. There is a multitude of reasons as to why studying abroad is probably the most important experience that anyone can have. As for us language students, it is even more beneficial. There is nothing that can benefit a language student more than being in the country of the language that they are studying. Talking in class to other students or your teacher is not even comparable to the language experience you get when studying abroad. What students really benefit from is learning how to speak. When you are in France, Italy or Spain, you have to speak that language. You become comfortable in speaking something other than English and you gain confidence in yourself. When speaking a second language, confidence is the most crucial trait that you can possess. I know I personally gained confidence speaking Spanish when I realized that the Spaniards actually understood what I was saying to them and I was able to carry on a conversation. Being in country also gives you the opportunity to learn accents and it allows you to receive advice about speaking from native speakers.

I study a language more for personal reasons than for business reasons. I am of Puerto Rican descent. My grandparents were born in Puerto Rico and lived there until my grandmother came to the United States when she was sixteen years old. She and her sister were Americanized immediately and the language was not passed down to their children: my dad and my aunts and uncles. By the time that I was born, I am certain that my grandma did not even know how to speak Spanish anymore. Despite the fact that none of my family knew Spanish, I was still eager to learn it. I don’t know what it is or where the desire came from, but ever since I was a little girl, I have been interested in Spanish. I took Spanish lessons as a child, watched films that taught kids Spanish, and I have been studying the language in school since sixth grade. I will not be satisfied until I am fluent in this language.

I definitely think that having a language is a huge boost on a resume and can only be beneficial in the workplace. Everything is global now; you can’t escape globalization. Especially in the United States where diversity is increasing daily, being able to speak a second language is only to someone’s advantage. That is why I chose to be a part of Phi Sigma Iota. Being in Phi Sigma Iota shows that you actually care about the language that you are studying. The fact that we as members are part of the society shows that we excel in learning the language and are invested in learning it. We are not just taking it as another elective, planning to never really use it again unless we absolutely have to. We actually care about learning how to speak a second language, and with that, we care about the cultures of the country or counties associated with it.

I am in Phi Sigma Iota because I enjoy everything about my language and I am invested in it. Spanish has always been my favorite class and the one that I excel the most in. Being able to speak another language(s) can only benefit people in all aspects of their lives, and it is a skill that is worth working towards.

-Isabela Velasquez
Class of 2016
President, Chapter Chi Zeta #262 of the Phi Sigma Iota Honor Society

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