GA Trade July-Aug 2014 - page 19

S P O T L I G H T S
should only take the financial
aspects into consideration. Educa-
tion is more like a package that
consist of more than just focus on
future wages. A global understand-
ing, better civic participation, better
contextualization, and a broader
point of view are some of these
benefits.
The return of investment of a
foreign language also depends on
your personal situation. Let’s say
you are in your forties and you do
not have a clear perspective on
whether to work for a foreign firm
or in an international environment,
but you would like to expand your
education, youmight be better off
taking accounting.
At a younger age, at four, five or
ten, you are expanding your brain
and you are forming yourself as a
person. Personal development at
that stage and a future cognitive
advantage is more important than
pure financial benefits.
GAT:
Robert Lane Greene, a
journalist who writes for The
Economist, came up with the
following hypothesis: If Mr. Saiz
had run his language-premium
study against a parallel-universe
America, in which the last half-
century had been a golden age of
language-learning, he might have
found a bigger foreign-language
bonus (and a bigger GBD pie to
divide) in that more open and
export-oriented fantasy America.
What is your take on that?
AS:
It depends on how you look at
it. There is always the view of an
individual argument that if there
are barriers in society and you are
able to breach those barriers, it
means a big advantage to you. If
there is no lingua franca, no
common language, and if I am able
Blake Peters,
Head of German American
School of Portland
“Whenever I was interactingwith a
German on a professional level, my ability
to speak German gaveme an advantage. I
recentlymet theGerman government's
transatlantic coordinator JürgenHardt in
Berlin and he did not know I was a
German speaker. Even though his English
was excellent, when I started replying in
German, hiswhole demeanor seemed to
bemore relaxed and he tookmore time
withme. This is an example for a
replicable experience forme.”
Daniel A. Peterson, Ph.D.,
Professor at Department of Neuro-
science, ChicagoMedical School
“As a Fulbright Scholar, you are expected
to serve as a cultural ambassador for your
country and to extend your interaction
with the host country into the commu-
nity. The ability to speak inGerman
with a broad cross-section of German
society opens avenues for public lectures
and dialog that would not be possible if
only Englishwas used. Although English
is the language of scientific research,
speakingGermanwith the staff and
German-speaking colleagues results in
enthusiastic cooperation andmore
extensive collaboration.”
Anita Fjeldstad,
former student of the German
Language School Cleveland
“I translatedmany different topics and
also had the opportunity to act as
interpreter for visitingGerman officials.
My knowledge of German ledme to a
career which has lasted for 27 years,
and it’s not over yet. Although I
currently hold a different position,
I am still occasionally asked to
translate documents, only because
relatively few people speak or
understandGerman.”
GermanAmerican Trade July/Aug 2014
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