Published: 12th of July, 2023
President of Guyana, Dr. Irfaan Ali, announced today, Wednesday 12th of July, 2023, that Spanish will be made compulsory for students at the Primary Level. While it is not clear at what Grade of the Primary Department the language will be taught, the President expressed that his aim is to make students proficient in the Spanish language by the end of their formal education at high school, and hinted at starting off with Grades 4 or 5 of the Primary Department. The Ministry of Education may then expand and improve from there.
Needless to say, a program of this nature is long overdue. Guyanese have a million reasons to learn a second language, and Spanish is a great place to start. Due to the economic crisis in Venezuela, thousands of Spanish speaking Venezuelans have poured into Guyana, and like in other countries around the world, were given refugee status. These migrants and remigrants sometimes struggle to communicate with Guyanese. A good knowledge of Spanish will help Venezuelans to be better able to interact with their Guyanese counterparts, and will equip Guyanese to teach Venezuelans English through everyday interaction.
What’s even better is that Spanish at all levels of Guyana’s education system could provide thousands of jobs for Venezuelans seeking refuge in Guyana. Having a native teacher in the classroom is priceless. In most cases, students will learn faster and easier, and needless to say, more accurately, from a native speaker than from someone who learned the language as a second language. How about putting a native Spanish-speaking teacher in every classroom? There are thousands of highly qualified Spanish speaking Venezuelans living in Guyana at present. How about providing opportunities for them to study English and write qualifying exams so that they can teach Spanish in schools across Guyana. This will not only reduce the strain on the economy, it will also propel the economy forward.
Nine out of the twelve countries of South America have Spanish as their official language. And that’s reason enough, in addition to all the reasons listed above, for Guyanese to pursue fluency in Spanish. But in addition all that, I’d like to leave you with an extract borrowed from a language learning website, entitled, “Why Learn a Second Language.”
Why Learn a Second Language?
If you’re learning a second language, you should be proud of yourself. Here are some of the ways in which learning a second language will positively impact your life.
- Learning a new language expands your horizons. You’ll no longer be limited only to friends, cultures, countries, jobs, and opportunities of your native language.
- It looks awesome on your CV. Employers love to see a second language on a CV because it’s a sign of ambition and intelligence.
- It makes learning a third and fourth language easier. It has been tested and proven that, after learning a second language, learning a third language becomes one thousand (1000) times easier.
- It makes you smarter. The process of becoming bilingual exercises your brain. It improves your memory and attention span, and boosts your problem solving skills.
- It improves your abilities in your native language. Learning a second language dramatically increases your vocabulary. It also makes you more aware of the mechanics and structure behind languages in general.