JOPLIN, MO. - Speaking another language has its advantages, and for the 14th year Missouri Southern State University is hosting Spanish Camp.
Students at the camp are learning about Spanish customs by learning some dance moves.
But dancing isn't the only activity planned for this six day camp. Learning the language is the major focus.
"That is what the whole camp is based on," says teacher Ruschelle Gunlock. "They learn Spanish phrases, vocabulary, grammar."
Camp teachers say knowing a second language is valuable when it comes to finding a job.
"Speaking the language - any second language - but especially Spanish in this part of the country will give you the advantage over any other applicant that my be equally qualified," says Ruschelle.
This is Abby Elmer's seventh year at the camp, and now she feels comfortable with the language and confident she can find a job later in life.
"My cousins are looking for jobs right now because they are out of college," Abby told us. "They said it really helps to learn more than one language, so that makes me happy."
While in the future employers may require many employees to speak another language, UMB Bank in Carthage says a bilingual employee would be an asset to the company right now.
"There is just so many areas we could use them in," says bank branch manager Robyn Fowler. "Whenever we go to group banking events, where there is a employer in town, and we go to set up checking accounts for their employees."
As for Ruschelle, she has seen first-hand how the Spanish language can help job applicants.
"Before I became a teacher, I worked in several different areas any in everyone of those areas when they found out I spoke two languages, one job gave me a raise and other jobs hired me specifically because I have that ability," Ruschelle says.
So while the children are learning the Spanish customs at camp, they are also improving their marketability for jobs later in life.
Over 90 area children between the ages of eight and fourteen are taking part in Missouri Southern's Spanish Camp.
One Camp teacher says children at this age have a better chance of learning the language.
"They pick up on the language so much faster than if they started in high school," says Ruschelle. "The way they can learn how to speak the language is more authentic when they learn it at a younger age."
The six day camp focuses on introducing and improving the language of Spanish through learning the dance customs and history of Spanish speaking countries.
Teachers say 40% of campers return to practice and improve on their language skills.
By MIKE PACHE