Regardless of whether or not the schools are in a position to provide courses, our multilingual society continues to move forward. It shows in the salaries of those who bring these skills to the table during interviews, too. Some studies suggest salaries for those who list bilingual or multilingual abilities on their resumes are often up to 10 percent greater than the salaries of their peers.
Communities, especially those who have Italian, Spanish, or other residents, are beginning to band together and offer courses to the public so that the communication gaps can be bridged. If you've not looked at help wanted ads or electronic job boards in recent months, those quickly reveal the importance of these language skills. Just as shorthand was an added bonus in the 60s, typing skills were needed in the 70s and 80s, and computer skills were required in the past two decades, studies show that there will be positions that will eventually require bilingual skills for job applicants. Even if one doesn't foresee the need at any point in his or her career, any time we can broaden our horizons and enrich our lives we should certainly do so. It sets an incredible example for our children, gives us an advantage in a number of areas within our lives and, besides, it's always a great conversation starter at parties.
You may be interested to know how some are gaining experience in other languages besides their own. Many sites offer a "word of the day" for those who can't commit a large portion of their day to learning new skills; still, there are sites that will guide you into a new language in record time (depending, of course, on how much time you have to dedicate to your efforts). Did we mention these sites are available at no cost? Sure, there are some that require payment, but a quick search engine return proves that learning to speak and/or write in another language is as easy as committing to the effort.
Assuming that there are no local community centers that offer courses in another language, how can we teach our own children to speak another language? The simplest way would be to learn these skills and simply give this gift, via a committed period of time on a daily basis, to not only our children, but to anyone who wishes to learn within the community. Great things have been accomplished with grass roots efforts. There are also programs available on CD and DVD that anyone can order to learn another language. Many of these programs combine written and verbal tutorials for skills in an effort to guarantee a complete understanding.
Sectors in our economy that hire those whose speaking and writing skills aren't necessarily a requirement include construction jobs, plant nurseries, and some manufacturing jobs. These jobs typically require manual labor more than any other skills. Workers whose first language isn't English are at a huge disadvantage, but are able to provide for their families through these jobs. Just as more Americans are beginning to acknowledge the benefits of speaking another language, those who don't speak English are doing their part as well to cross language barriers. Again, this plays into the need for bilingual people, especially within the American workforce. Recent positions that have become available on a few of the largest electronic job boards include bilingual sales jobs and bilingual jobs in customer service. It's important to put this in the right context: these weren't the only two available positions, and judging by the posting dates, these have been open positions for several weeks, but there are available positions in countless regions of the country, in different sectors of the economy, on varying levels, and related to specific languages. Spanish and Italian are two of the most requested languages, as one might suspect. And the needs continue to rise.
The bottom line is our youth will be at a huge disadvantage, especially in certain regions of the country, if they're not exposed to other languages and taught to both read and write in at least one other language, if not several languages. Kids are eager to learn new things. They're easier to teach at that age and are far more adaptable than those who wait until adulthood. Their abilities to enunciate and properly form the slight nuances are met with better success and far more ease.