As Latino, Hispanic, and Mexican socioeconomic status has surged in the United States in the last twenty years, so has the incorporation of Spanish beliefs and language in American culture. This is a direct result of the progress Spanish immigrants have made in rising within the ranks of American industry as well as in population. Having climbed from a majority ranking in the lower-class, to middle-class status, Spanish-Americans are now afforded more opportunities to pass on their knowledge. This has not only brought about the embodiment of Spanish influences but also has expanded Spanish education opportunities as well.
Today, obtaining a education in Spanish culture and language is more pragmatic for Americans than ever before. With over forty-million Spanish-speaking individuals in the United States at present, more than in Spain itself, becoming a Spanish bilingual is just as useful as being fluent in the English language; and Spanish-American concentration is only expected to rise tremendously in the near future. Statistic projections by the U.S. Census Bureau have estimated that by the year 2050, the Spanish population in the United States will increase from its current 15% ranking to 23% or greater. These statistics alone show how important obtaining a Spanish-based education will be for those looking to embrace the diverse structure that is the heart of American life.
Of course, with the progression of the Spanish population in the United States, U.S. Educating institutions have also expanded their Spanish programs. Now providing students with a deeper more comprehensive study of this flourishing culture, studying Spanish in America is more applicable than ever before. However, no matter the effectiveness of an American-based Spanish education, there is and will never be a more valuable experience than studying within the cultural setting.
When studying Spanish abroad, one not only learns the language but begins to understand the broader perspective in which it developed. By living in the culture itself, one is able to employ the use of their studies on a daily basis. They are also better able to establish associations between language and culture, as learning progresses much more efficiently when actual experience is applied. Because of this, studies completed inside a cultural context are much more dynamic, intriguing, and influential than those carried out solely in the context of a lecture hall. Sure, America has a significant number of communities in which one can attempt to explore Spanish culture; however, American cultural influences in those communities skew the authenticity of the perspective.
The example of the United States is one among similar stories in many countries, where the Spanish language is growing in importance every year. TANDEM Madrid has been collaborating with several universities worldwide to offer fulfilling experiences in Spain, allowing students to earn college credits and learn Spanish at the same time. TANDEM is working to improve its partnerships with foreign universities, and created a brand new site about study abroad programs, to answer specific questions that students may have when applying to one of these programs.
In order to reach accurate and comprehensive studies, one must be able to take in the history, architecture, customs, and social composition that encompasses authentic Spanish life. This type of experience makes students of Spanish more functional in business and in life, as understanding the basis of another person’s culture assists in relating to and working with them to achieve shared goals and make future progress. No matter how one plans to use their education in Spain or other country, there is no doubt that improving the usefulness of such learning is best done inside the culture itself.