Minister of Education, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, says that persons with a second language, such as Spanish, stand to earn 15 per cent more than those without such a skill.
He was addressing a ‘Spanish Day’ event on Novmber 30 at Kingston Technical High School, where he encouraged students to learn a second language to enhance job prospects and earnings. “This is something that can give you an additional skill in your life, so that when you leave (school) you can earn more and you can help your family and your nation,” he stated.
He cited the maritime and hotel industries as two areas where having an additional language skill is an advantage.
“The tourists who are coming to Jamaica now, many of them are coming from Europe and they speak Spanish and they expect that you will understand them and be able to entertain them and to make them happy so that you can become prosperous,” he said.
Minister Thwaites stressed that it was even more important for Jamaicans to learn Spanish, given the country’s proximity to the Latin American region, which is an important economic zone, and the fact that Spanish is becoming a vital language in the Americas.
One of the two teachers of Spanish at the school, and Co-ordinator of the Spanish Day, Tandy Brown, told JIS News that the institution has been celebrating the day for the past three years, in an effort to engender a greater appreciation for the Spanish language among students.
“We also recognise that because of our environment, many of them are not exposed to anything Hispanic. We have a lot of Spanish persons here in Jamaica but they don’t encounter them. So what we do is to try and invite as many persons from the Hispanic countries to come and share this day with us,” she said.
The Argentine Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency, Ariel Fernández and Charge d’Affaires at the Panamanian Embassy,Lorenzo Chiari, participated in the day’s event.
Students were exposed to various cultural tidbits from the several Spanish-speaking countries, including, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Panama, Spain, Dominican Republic and Columbia.
The students participated in exciting activities such as a treasure hunt, sign language exercises, a karaoke session and a fashion show featuring the traditional dress of the Spanish-speaking countries.
The event was sponsored by Digicel, Lime, GraceKennedy, Carlong Publishers and Burger King.