Why learn a new language? / Costa Rica trip


Caroline Soltis, Staff

Spring Break is right around the corner, but some students are already planning for next year. The Spanish language department is heading to Costa Rica for a life changing trip next year over Spring Break, and everyone is getting pumped up already. Traveling to foreign places is a great way to practice the language and explore a new culture. “Students are immersed in the language, it’s all they hear, so they’re forced to use it,” says JM Spanish teacher Mrs. Langworthy. “You pick up more than you think.”

The Spanish department chose Costa Rica for several reasons, including the city and culture experience. There is a different way of living, and that adds a new perspective to the Spanish language. Costa Rica also has a different environmental feel, with volcanoes, rainforests, and the beach for students to explore. Some have never even seen the ocean before, making the trip to the beach a once in a lifetime experience. Another reason for the trip destination is that the country is very safe, so that’s not something to worry about when making your decision.

There are many exciting and interactive things planned to do on the trip, such as visit the capital, zip line, go on a rainforest hike, a catamaran tour, visit a wildlife refuge, go to a chocolate plantation, visit a volcano, and of course, enjoy lots of sunny, relaxing beach time. Throughout all these activities and the whole trip students will learn about the culture and lifestyle of people living there, and experience it for themselves as well.

So what if this all sounds super fun but you’re not actually taking Spanish? Luckily, the other languages also have trips planned for the future. Every two years, the German department has an opportunity to visit Germany, and the French department is also planning a trip to Quebec, Canada. The Costa Rica trip is open to all students in year two of Spanish or higher, but there may be spots leftover for people in year one. Don’t worry if there aren’t, because the Spanish and German languages take a trip every two to three years.

And if you still want to go but you’re not taking a language? If so, you should really consider it. All kinds of studies show the positive effects of learning a new language. It can help you later in life, by improving important test scores, delaying diseases like Alzheimer’s, using more of your brain, helping you perceive things differently and more intellectually, and thinking outside the box. Learning a language can also contribute to earning more money as an adult, making you a more culturally aware person, helping ease travel to different countries, and making new friends, as well as making you smarter in general. Plus it’s fun to be able to speak fluently in another language- you can impress others and pronounce foreign foods at restaurants without sounding silly.

Another important thing to consider is college. If you are planning on going to any college, there is a good chance you will need world language class experience, usually at least two years. “We recommend students research the school of their choice to see what is required. Each school has different requirements,” Counselor Mary Sorensen states. “Some colleges won’t even look at you without the language requirement.  Others will let you in on a deficit, meaning you take it when you get to college.” Some local colleges that require a language are University of St. Thomas, Carleton College, University of Minnesota, and Gustavus Adolphus College. If you’re planning on going to Rochester Community and Technical College, they do not require a language, but it may be helpful if you plan to transfer to a 4 year university.

There are also many more scholarship opportunities available if you’ve taken several years of language.

So now that you know about the opportunities available when taking a language throughout high school, you may want to consider trying one. It could really help you out- now in high school, later in college, and throughout the rest of your life.