How many foreign countries are on your bucket list? Can you speak another language besides English? Have you ever sat on the subway and wished you could understand the languages of everyone around you? Nowadays, it’s popular for colleges to have some type of language requirement for all undergraduate students. Unfortunately, most students just do the bare minimum of language classes and don’t wish to continue their language studies after they complete the requirements. But there are a multitude of benefits to knowing a second language. Read on for 8 benefits of learning a second language in college!
1. It’s useful in the “real world”.
Having the ability to speak a second language is actually useful and a skill that you can use in the real world after you finish college. (No offense to math derivatives, but honestly when am I ever going to need to know those unless I’m a math teacher?) Whether it’s teaching Spanish in an ESL program or traveling to Asia for a business trip five years down the road, you never know when knowing another language might come in handy. Plus, how cool would it be if your resumé said you were fluent in a second language? Knowing another language will only make you more competitive as a job applicant no matter where you apply.
2. Engaging and lively classes.
Forget about boring lecture for two hours. Language classes require the ability to communicate with others, thus half of class time is dedicated to speaking and practicing the language through conversations with others. Because of these peer discussions, I’ve found that I tend to know more of my classmates from my language classes compared to other classes. New friends AND a new skill? Sign me up!
3. You become more culturally aware.
From talking about current events to learning about countries’ rich histories and how they shaped each country’s identity, I became more knowledgeable about the cultures of other countries in my language classes. For example, I never would have known so much about French President Emmanuel Macron and the French presidential election process had I not taken my French class this year. I am now more aware and interested in global affairs thanks to my language classes.
4. There are more opportunities for traveling.
Knowing another language opens up more job opportunities for you. You won’t have to be stuck in one office or location all day, but rather you’ll have the option to travel internationally. So get that passport ready because you are going places!
5. Say goodbye to being a tourist!
Speaking the country’s native language allows you to experience a country more as a local instead of a tourist, and you won’t have to be one of those American tourists who gets by speaking English. The locals will respect and admire you more for speaking or at least making the effort to speak their language. Even though you might not be that confident speaking a second language, remember that practice makes perfect!
6. Teachers are fun and passionate.
Now, classes are all about the teacher, and I’ve found that most language teachers (at least in my experience) are quirky, weird, interesting human beings. I’m thankful that for the most part, I’ve had dedicated language teachers who were super passionate about the subject they taught and always made class fun and engaging. Who wouldn’t want teachers like these?
7. You already spent so much time, energy, and money on your AP language course…
Why not make the process worthwhile? Especially if you’ve taken a second language to the AP level in high school, I would suggest studying the language in college. I know colleges, especially those that run on a quarter system like Santa Clara University, make it easy and convenient to pursue at least a minor. If you have AP credit from your AP language exam, you only have to take 4 classes to complete the minor. That means if you start language classes in the fall of your freshman year, you could be done with your minor after fall quarter of your sophomore year!
8. It’s now or never.
Or maybe you took Latin in high school but have always wanted to learn Japanese. Sign up for a Japanese class! College is the time to try new and exciting classes that you weren’t able to take in high school and probably won’t have time for after you graduate, so take advantage of all the opportunities that are available to you.
Overall, the benefits of studying a second language are so much greater than the disadvantages. If you have time to add language classes to your schedule, do it. (Or even if you don’t, make time for it.) Don’t be scared of the course load, but be excited for all the adventures and opportunities that await you once you have a greater understanding and knowledge of the language(s). Trust me, you won’t regret it.