January 24, 2017
By Crystal Medrano
When people go to college, they choose what they are going to study. With more than 80 areas of study offered at Dominican, students of all backgrounds have the option to choose different paths to study during their collegiate years.
Why is it that Hispanic and or Latino students are choosing to major in Spanish? It appears knowing their heritage language is something that is growing more important to students.
Dominican is known as a Hispanic serving institution and per the Office of Institutional Research, approximately 48 percent of the student population identifies as Hispanic or Latino.
Look inside a Spanish classroom at Dominican and one can see that most the people are either Hispanic or Latino. So the question comes down to figuring out why? Why is it that Latinos and or Hispanics, especially native speakers, are choosing to further pursue this language?
Spanish Professor, Lisa Petrov, who has been teaching Spanish for a total of 30 years, thinks that when it comes down to Heritage speakers, a lot of it has to do with the students desire to not lose the skills that they already have as well as a hope to improve and refine them.
Liz Lozano, senior and double major in Spanish and International Business, agrees.
“As a Spanish speaker, it felt natural to want to develop my language skill in a more professional setting,” Lozano said.
“As an international business major, I felt it was important that I could fluently communicate with other people and my language would be an asset in interactions with Spanish speaking leaders.”
This is also true for non-native speakers as well, such as senior and double major in Spanish and Journalism, Rachael Stewart.
“I had taken Spanish for 4 years in High School and didn’t want to abandon and forget the language,” Stewart said.
Petrov also thinks that students realize how being bilingual makes them more marketable when it comes to job hunting.
“A lot of students learn the language through family or friends and I think that they realize that taking formal classes will help them perfect the language and make them more confident,” Petrov said.
“I also think they understand that when it comes to jobs, they will have to speak the language at a higher level, especially in the Chicago area where Spanish is a necessary skill.”
Stewart shares a similar mindset.
“I love speaking it and I love learning about the culture,” Stewart said. “I think that the more languages someone knows, the better. I am also a journalism major and I figured knowing Spanish would be extremely beneficial.”
However, Petrov understands that a lot of career paths have nothing to do with the language or there is no reason for a student to pursue a language they have already perfected. She also stresses that learning a language is not easy.
“Learning a language is hard, and it takes a lot of hard work,” Petrov said. “There is no negative in learning Spanish, but there also is no negative to not learning Spanish. Students just need to understand their own needs”
Petrov also thinks that Dominican gives students a reason for wanting to major in a language, such as several study abroad opportunities.
“We offer opportunities to study abroad that coincide with this major or minor,” Petrov said. “That, I think, gives students motivation to study Spanish.”
So, whether you’re planning on studying abroad, learning a new language, or improving your already given skills, Spanish may be a smart choice for a major or minor.