Panel discusses importance of careers in foreign language

Students assembled to attend a panel with members from campus organizations to learn about careers that utilize the use of a foreign language.

The Academic Success Center, Office of Global Education and Career Center collaborated to host the panel during U-hour on Nov. 20.

Hillary Taylor, the Academic Success Facilitator, moderated the panel throughout the session. The panel consisted of four speakers including Dr. Ana Hernández, an associate professor of multilingual and multicultural education and coordinator of the Bilingual Authorization Program; Dr. AsherLev (Asher) Santos, an assistant professor of public health; Dr. Lissa Lim, a psychologist at the Student Health & Counseling Services and Lisa Medina, the Director of Admissions and University Registrar. Each one spoke about how to apply a language that you speak into the career you want to go into.

Dr. Hernández, a refugee from Cuba, noticed a need for more teachers who understand the hardships that English learners faced.“I struggled in school, I was labeled as an English learner, as a slow learner.[Now], my life is dedicated to the education of bilingual teachers,” said Dr. Hernández.

“As of 2017-2018, there are 1.3 million English learners enrolled in California public schools, that’s one in every four students and 2.6 million people speak a language other than English in their homes.” Dr. Hernández said she is focused on dual language education, a new practice implementing language in which students whose first language is English are taught Spanish and vice versa.

Dr. Santos spoke next about his view on the importance of using foreign language skills to assist in public health. Santos worked in the public health field and said he used his interest in health diplomacy, “how relationships between nations impact health outcomes,” to further explore the importance of knowing multiple languages.

“We use language as a tool … a means to get more work done. I would say it is important to know your skillset and build your language on top. [It will help you build a] connection with other people in other places,” said Dr. Santos.

Dr. Lim shared her experience with providing therapy for people in both English and Spanish. “Only five percent of psychologists can provide services in Spanish,” said Lim.

She said that this was a big problem given that so much of the population speaks Spanish. “You do need additional training, but there is no formal training you need to complete. Some graduate programs are creating tracks research in Spanish … What we really, really need is therapy and assessment in Spanish. If you are able to speak English and Spanish, include it in your CV, bring it up in interviews, even if they don’t ask about it,” said Lim.

Lisa Medina spoke last, also discussing the positive experiences that she had because of the foreign language skills that she developed. Medina volunteered in the Peace Corps, getting involved after meeting a recruiter at a graduate school fair at CSUSM. At twenty-three, Medina had the opportunity to go to Ecuador. There she learned about a new culture and was able to develop her Spanish skills while living there.

The event concluded with a Q&A session with the students in attendance. One student asked about the relevance of Japanese to other fields. Dr. Santos responded that the major technology companies like Sony were interested in hiring people fluent in Japanese due to the connection those companies have to Japan.