Bilingual Benefits

Standing in front of the classroom, Spanish teacher Sr. Muñoz cheerfully goes over classwork with his students.

Students aiming for a Mesa Public Schools Scholastic Diploma must select a language course and spend a total of two years learning it. Some students have concerns about what they will gain from learning another language.

Spanish Teacher Alex Muñoz grew up in Southeast Arizona, has been teaching for 21 years and has first hand experience on learning a second language at a young age      

“Around the age of four, I learned English but my family moved to Mexico and I would forget English,” Sr. Muñoz said. “I had to learn English about seven different times.”

His background helped him understand that learning a new language can be difficult.

“In my opinion it is best to learn at least two languages because it opens up a new world for you and comes with many opportunities,” Sr. Muñoz said. “I think it’s important for everyone to learn a second language.”

Another teacher’s view on being bilingual is Herr Cole. Born in New York, Herr Cole spent a total of two years in Germany before moving back to America to get his Bachelor of Arts degree in Education and Master of Arts in German at Arizona State University. Herr Cole enjoyed his time in Germany so much that he would love for everyone to travel to a foreign country     

“We have an exchange program with a school in Hamburg, Germany. The students come to America in February while Red Mountain students go to Germany for a month during the summer,’’ Herr. Cole said. “For taking German class you qualify to be a foreign exchange student in Germany and enjoy the culture you are learning in its original origin.’’

Traveling to a foreign country is an opportunity offered in many of Red Mountain’s language programs. Taking Spanish gives students the chance to visit places in Latin America such as Costa Rica, Peru, Ecuador and Spain. These trips provide outlets for students who are learning a language to create memories and friends in a new place beyond the class.

Some students whose second language is English are compelled to learn and focus their abilities in the English language in order to have a greater chance to succeed in education, work and social activities.

“Being fluent in English is sometimes more rewarded in society to me than it is to be fluent in your first language because in my case my native language doesn’t come with as much opportunities compared to other languages like Spanish or French,” junior and bilingual student Ka’i Emerson said. “It would be nice if my native language [Diné] was more appreciated and preserved like other languages.”

Junior Manny Hernandez recalls spending more time learning english rather than his native language.

“If I didn’t focus on being fluent in English I wouldn’t have been able to fit in to make friends,” Hernandez said. “It would be nice for students to learn a second language so that future students may have someone to talk instead of  feeling pressured and alone like I did. At the end of the day it is your choice to learn another language, but to just to write it off because it seems boring or hard is a little insensitive to others that had no choice but to learn English.”

Everyone’s reason and decision for learning a foreign language will vary, but being open to different perspectives is very honorable to both bilingual and monolingual individuals. For more information about the world language programs visit http://www.mpsaz.org/rmhs/academics/worldlanguagesdept/.

(Featured Photo By Adontee’a Phillips)