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Jul 25 2015
by Mia Renee Cole

5 Reasons You Should Study a Foreign Language in College

By Mia Renee Cole - Jul 25 2015
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All of us took at least two levels of foreign language in high school — that's how we managed to get into university. Most of us are going to continue a foreign language to fulfill requirements in order to graduate from college, but how many of you are going to actually study a language and add it as a minor (or major)?

Though languages can be tricky at times and somewhat frustrating to study, having fluency in another language can greatly improve your life in many ways, both in college and outside. In fact, America is behind in the race of bilingualism. Most modern and advanced countries, such as those in Continental Europe, are bilingual and have bilingual education systems, proving very efficient when it comes to international business and communication.

Still not convinced to study another language in college? Here are five more reasons to persuade you otherwise.

1. Knowing another language expands your vocabulary.

It’s no secret that the broader one’s vocabulary is, the more intelligent they are (or seem to be). Languages that derive from Latin (French, English, Spanish, etc.) have many similarities between words and meanings. Not only does this make it easier to learn one of these languages with these similarities, you also find these cognates between other languages as well. For example, I took both French and Spanish in high school: the word for “world” in Spanish is “mundo” and the word in French is “monde.” The similarities between the two words made it easier for me to remember their meanings. I’m not saying you should take two different languages, but I am saying that if you learn French and happen to travel to Spain, you may recognize some words and sentence structure from your previous knowledge, helping you to better understand a different language.

2. It makes your study abroad experience better.

I hope all of you take some time to study abroad while in college. It will help broaden your horizons and point of view in the world, expanding your overall awareness and knowledge. Knowing the language of the country you plan to visit — even if it is only basic conversation — will allow you to have a better time while there. Many people are scared of traveling internationally because of the language barrier that does exist in different countries. This is understandable, especially when traveling alone. In order to increase your confidence when traveling, know at least one different language other than English. If you’re going to a country where you know nothing about their language, at least take the time to brush up on their common greetings, the meaning of street signs, direction and question words and basic conversational sentences. It will be a huge help.

3. It opens your mind.

Studying another language isn’t just a way to broaden your communication skills; it’s a way to learn about another country’s culture and way of life. Living and growing up in one place can, surprisingly, keep our minds from understanding the abundant differences in culture between countries. Studying a different language in college will increase your tolerance of other cultures and traditions, it may even help you understand why we do some of the things that we do here. When traveling to a foreign country, being aware of their customs will greatly improve your experience as well — not to mention that you will gain the respect of the locals.

4. It makes things more convenient.

Knowing a second language that might be abundant where you live will be a huge convenience to you when you get a job or are trying to meet new people. You won’t be the person that needs to find a translator in order to have a conversation with someone different from you. You’ll be able to work fluently with multiple types of people without creating any kind of stutter in your day. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to get to know people on a more personal level and create more contacts without needing a third party.

5. It gives you an advantage in the workforce.

More and more companies are looking for bilingual employees. Speaking two languages not only helps with a job, but on a resume it shows a willingness to learn, a tolerance of different cultures and people and a knowledge of languages. Knowing at least one other language won’t be hurting you at all because it will make you look a lot better than the other applicant who can only speak English and maybe not very well either. Employers love diversity and speaking two languages is considered pretty diverse in America.

Looking for travel opportunities? Knowing another language will also increase your chances of finding a job internationally or one that allows you to travel a lot. These are basically paid-for trips and lifestyles that are one-of-a-kind and will be sure to impress former classmates at a high school reunion. Bosses want bilingual employees and, more often than not, are willing to pay them more than their coworkers simply because they know two languages.

I hope you’ve learned a bit more about the advantages of studying a foreign language, and I hope you’ll consider expanding your mind to learn more about different languages and cultures while at college. As for myself, I plan to study both French and Spanish. À la prochaine!


Lead Image Credit: HBO Films

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Mia Renee Cole - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Mia Renee is currently the Senior Editor with Fresh U and a student at UNC Chapel Hill, where she is studying Spanish and French. In her free time she enjoys knitting, photography and drinking hot tea while writing on her personal blog. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @miareneecole or her blog at miareneecole.com!

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