Why learn languages?
10 good reasons why you should be learning a foreign language (#8-10)
8. To expand study abroad options
Because relatively few Americans are competent in foreign languages,
competition for study abroad programs in English-speaking countries
is sometimes intense. Unfortunately, students often shy away from
studying in countries where English is not the native language for
all the wrong reasons. They mistakenly believe that their grades will
suffer, that their language proficiency isn't adequate, or that they
won't be able to fit in or understand the culture.
Study Abroad 101, by Wendy Williamson, 196 p. (2008)101 questions and answers about study abroad, from before you apply to after you return home. Covers such topics as: Narrowing Down the Options, Planning your Trip, Health and Safety Concerns, Managing Money Abroad, Life in Another Country, Living with the Locals, Keeping in Touch with Home, Life After Study Abroad, Top Secrets You Should Know.
9. To increase understanding of oneself and one's own culture
Knowing another language and culture affords you the unique opportunity
of seeing yourself and your own culture from an outside perspective.
There are aspects of your language, yourself, your life, and your
own culture that you accept as absolute and universal or that you
have never even considered until you encounter a culture and people
who do things in a much different way than you're used to. Contact
with other languages and cultures gives you the unique opportunity
to step outside your familiar scope of existence and view your culture's
customs, traditions, and norms as well as your own value system
through the eyes of others. Conversely, a monolingual, monocultural
view of the world severely limits your perspective. Intercultural
experiences have a monumental influence on shaping your identity,
heightening your self-awareness, and giving you a full appreciation
of your life situation. These things can happen only with knowledge
of cultures and languages other than your own.
10. To make lifelong friends
Knowing other languages effectively increases the number of people
on the globe with whom you can communicate. And people who speak
other languages fully appreciate the effort and desire learners
expend to get to know their culture and to communicate with them.
Whether through meeting foreign exchange students on your campus
or local immigrants in your community, whether getting to know natives
or international students while studying abroad, or whether establishing
a connection with a pen pal in another country, your ability to
speak other languages and your interest in other cultures can connect
you deeply with people around the globe.
Are you still wondering what you can do with a language major?
See our Career resources for foreign language majors.
Trying to decide on a specific language?
See some excellent reasons to learn German, Japanese, or Spanish!
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