I speak Spanish. Not well, but passably enough that I can communicate with native speakers who also know English. I’m sure I sound like a third-grader, but I can stumble along.
According to this NYT article, the new fad among the competitive preschool set is to start their little ones learning Chinese. It makes sense in terms of business competition, as the author notes, but in terms of politics and diplomacy, I still think Arabic is a more useful language to have in your back pocket.
When I was choosing a language to study, I was in middle school in Germany, where my options were Spanish or German. (We just didn’t have a French teacher, I think.) I chose Spanish because I knew it would be useful, and that was ten years before I even thought about moving to Texas. My middle school friends still speak German; I still speak Spanish. Although I don’t think President Calderón has any particular qualms with the U.S. at the moment, something tells me that I made the wiser choice. It’s nice to know that people with more clout agree.