Q & A with Spanish Alumna Jennifer King
- Friday, September 3rd, 2021
Q: Why did you decide to major in Spanish?
A) I decided to major in Spanish because I wanted to continue my language learning beyond high school. I had an amazing teacher in high school (Mrs. Doris Poole of Greenwood High School) who really instilled in me a love for the Spanish language and culture and who emphasized the importance of having the skill of an additional language under one's belt. I knew Spanish would be an asset that would open doors for me to explore places, meet people and learn about things I might not otherwise experience.
Q: What were some highlights of the Spanish program?
A) The ability to study abroad, the faculty and my fellow students were three highlights of the program. My study abroad experience was phenomenal (more on that later) and it was greatly encouraged for me to pursue that opportunity. The faculty in the Modern Language department, especially Susann Davis and Inmaculada Pertusa, were very helpful when it came to meeting my Spanish language goals. My fellow students were so enthusiastic and pushed me to be a better language learner as well.
Q: Could you describe your study abroad experience?
A) I studied abroad in Granada, Spain. It was by far one of the best and most formative experiences in my life. I lived with a host family and attended all Spanish-speaking classes so I was fully immersed in the language and culture. I fell in love with Granada and my fluency improved exponentially. The whole reason I chose Spain was that I had a dear friend who had done the same program and recommended it highly and the Zikka virus was raging through South America at the time so it seemed like the safer choice for a Spanish language immersion experience. The friends I made and the things I learned and experienced will stick with me for the rest of my life.
Q: How has your knowledge of Spanish contributed to your career as a journalist?
A) I currently work as a newspaper photographer/videographer in Tri-Cities, Washington. Working for the Tri-City Herald has shown me in real time the importance of having experience with a second language. Over half of the population in one of the cities I cover is Hispanic so I use Spanish on a regular basis. This past year, because of my language experience, I worked on a project about how COVID-19 disproportionally affected the Latino population here, especially farmworkers. Communication can be challenging even in the least complex situations. A language barrier can add frustration and confusion into the mix. Breaking down those barriers by understanding Spanish and being able to meet people where they are is so helpful when it comes to covering a significant and important part of my local community.
Q: Why is learning another language important?
A) As the population grows and the contact across countries and cultures expands, it is becoming increasingly important to be proficient in more than one language for the sake of effective communication. Not only does it help individuals diversify their skill sets and appeal to employers, but it also expands their worldview and understanding of people around the globe. Language can be a beautiful bridge that helps connect people. With greater understanding comes greater compassion and the possibility of building a world where all people are heard and understood.
Q: What advice would you give to those trying to learn another language?
A) Language learning is difficult and can take a lot of time. Not everyone can learn through homework exercises or class. The best way to learn a language is to incorporate it into your life in fun or stress-free ways. Try listening to music and learning the lyrics and what they mean. Get involved in a local language exchange - usually, there are native speakers who want to learn English - take turns speaking with each other for an immersive learning opportunity. Find a copy of your favorite book in a different language, something you're familiar with and enjoy. Commit some time to read it and look up the words you don't know. The best way to learn is through immersion, try studying abroad and staying with a host family when you do. Most importantly, give yourself grace. Learning a language can be challenging; there's nothing wrong with going at your own pace.