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Students see value in foreign language study, skill in demand

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TYLER (KYTX) - Do you know another language?

It pays to be bilingual, literally.

According to the Department of Labor, translators and interpreters are two of the fastest growing jobs in the nation.

It's not about speaking just English anymore.

With a growing global market, strong language skills are needed.

That's why even students at UT Tyler are looking to hone in on them now.

Students at UT Tyler are speaking, writing and understanding on another level.

"Able to have a second language is beyond good as far as being able to expand where you can go and what you can do," says Susan Hamel, a Spanish minor.

Hamel can already speak the language and has put it to use at work.

"When you're dealing with clients, you never know what is going to be required. Who's going to walk in the door and what they're going to need. So when you're there and you're available, keeps clients coming in the door," says Hamel.

Hamel recognizes the need for translators and interpreters in a growing global market.

"Many of the students don't realize that there is such a big demand for translators in Spanish," says Dr. Hui Wu.

Dr. Wu is the director of the foreign languages department at UT Tyler, she says most students who study foreign languages want to teach.

"I might have a student who's first language is Chinese and might be very helpful if I know a little of how to converse with him," says Laura Lawrence, who's studying Chinese.

But there is a push across the country from teachers, to police officers, the military and even private corporations, for more language skills.

And while it's been seen in bigger cities already, Dr. Wu says don't count out East Texas.

"Our output is more active, probably can see this type of demand very soon," says Wu.

The Labor Department expects 25,000 jobs to open in this field in the next 10 years, a 42% increase.

"It's a fun game for the brain. Like switch, switch, switch constantly. It's fun. And you have to be quick," says Wu.

Growth for your mind and your salary.

"Everywhere you look at advertising. Se habla Espanol," says Hamel.

While Spanish is the only language you can major in now at UT Tyler, students do have the option of taking classes in French and Chinese.

But Dr. Wu hopes the program will expand to meet the demand in the near future.

Even the government is seeking workers in the field for the CIA and FBI.

And the income could reach six figures in some cases.

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