Obama's daughters take Spanish, and you?
by Kimberly on Monday, April 11, 2011
The U.S president Barak Obama admited in March that he had been "lazy" in school with regards to the Spanish language, something that he "regrets". The president went on to reveal that the Spanish language is a lanugage that all Americans should learn due to the importance and influence of Latin America.
In fact, his daughters Malia, age 12, and Natasha, age 10, are taking intensive Spanish courses at Sidewell Friends School in Washington D.C.
Obama explained that although his pronunciation is good when reading in Spanish, he lamented not being able to speak the language for example on a recent trip to Chile.
Latin America is very important in both a global economy and for diplomacy.
Global Statistics of Spanish Speakers
- Spanish is the world's third most spoken language, after Mandarin Chinese and English, and ranks second in terms of native speakers.
- At the end of the 19th century, 60 million people spoke Spanish. Today, almost 500 million people worldwide speak Spanish!
- Spanish is the mother tongue of approximately 388 million people in 21 countries (Mexico: 102 million, USA: 45 million, Spain: 44 million, Colombia: 44 million, Argentina: 39 million, Venezuela: 28 million, Peru: 28 million...) It is also widely spoken in many more where it is not an official language.
- Hispanic consumers are the fastest-growing market segment in North America. Their population in the USA has grown by 60% in just one decade and their buying power is expected to exceed $1.3 billion by 2013.
- Spanish is the second most used language in international communication, and an official language of the UN and its organizations.
Below we offer economic and cultural reasons to study Spanish.
- 29 million US residents above the age of 5 speak Spanish at home. That's approximately 1 of every 10 US residents, an enormous consumer and business-to-business market.
- "The world is rapidly becoming multilingual and Arabic and Spanish are both key languages of the future" said language researcher David Graddol, commenting on a report presented to the British Council.
- No one aware of the changing tides of business could fail to notice that we increasingly operate in global markets. Foreign language fluency is a significant asset for job seekers, since more and more companies trade internationally.
- The US Census Bureau reports that the nation's Hispanic population is expected to jump to 49.3 million from 38.2 million by 2015. The 39 million Hispanics currently living in the USA make up 12.5% of the total population. This population growth has increased demand for Spanish language media: radio, television, newspapers, magazines...
- Latin American countries are experiencing strong economic growth and becoming important global commercial partners. Newly created MERCOSUR and the existing free trade agreements between Hispanic countries and North America (ALADI, the Andean Community, CACM, NAFTA, G3), are expected to bring further growth to Latin American economies.
- Latin culture continues to have a global influence on architecture, art and literature. Who isn't familiar with Cervantes’ 'Don Quijote de la Mancha’, the second most translated book after the Bible, which marked its 400th anniversary in 2005 with worldwide celebrations? Who hasn't heard that the most expensive painting ever sold is a Picasso?
- Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava continues to make his mark worldwide, with recent and current projects in Sweden, Ireland, Germany, the Olympic campus in Athens and the site of the world trade center in New York, among others.
- Spanish language authors like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende continue to lead global best seller lists and win international critical acclaim.
So why Spanish? Because not only is learning Spanish becoming increasingly important in terms of the global economy, it can also play a major role in your own personal development. The Spanish passion for living is contagious and once you start to learn about their language and culture, you won't ever want to stop.