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Words Matter—The Value of Learning a Second Language

lit sign that says the Spanish word Hola

It’s never too late to learn a second language—at least it wasn’t for Anita Perez Ferguson, Ph.D., the noted author, educator, and guest lecturer who recently spoke at Georgian Court University. 

Portrait of demographics expert Anita Perez Ferguson
Dr. Anita Perez Ferguson

Dr. Ferguson, who led a weeklong series of talks on demographics, diversity, and political shifts in America, said that she learned a second language—in her case, Spanish—in order to get involved and be a better advocate for her community and for people who needed to have a voice.

“By learning a second language, you can expand the number of people you help,” she said during the presentation Why Major in a Foreign Language?

“The more desperate you are, the more you want to learn,” she added, and her comments seemed to really resonate with

Georgian Court students and staff attending the virtual lecture. She noted that motivation, as well as passion, are important for learning a second language.

Learning a second language, like English or Spanish, can even help bring families together, Der Perez Ferguson said. In her case, learning Spanish brought her closer to her family in Mexico—she learned Spanish as an adult there and stayed with her family. The experience helped build a bond that they did not have before.

“People become more involved when you come in as someone trying to take a chance and show what you know and don’t know,” Dr. Perez Ferguson said. She stressed that students should not be discouraged when they are misunderstood, and that “being embarrassed helps you remember not to give up.”

Read more about Dr. Perez Ferguson’s lecture series here, where you will also find links to videos of five of her presentations.

Story contributed by Georgian Court University English major Erica Caleca ’20.

Aerial view of GCU.

About Georgian Court University

Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is Central and South Jersey’s only Catholic university. GCU is a comprehensive, coeducational university with a strong liberal arts core and a historic special concern for women. As a forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, GCU is known for expanding possibility for more than 2,100 students of all faiths and backgrounds in 35+ undergraduate majors and 10+ graduate programs. The GCU Lions compete in 15 NCAA Division II sports in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC). In 2020, GCU was named a Best Value College by and a Best Bang for the Buck (Northeast) by Washington Monthly. High student retention and graduation rates also make GCU a Top Performer on Social Mobility on U.S. News & World Reports rankings. The main campus is located in Lakewood, New Jersey, on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, also serves students at other locations, such as GCU at BrookdaleGCU at Rowan College of South Jersey–Cumberland Campus, and through multiple online certificate and degree programs.

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