Why You Should Take Your Language Classes Seriously

As you graduate high school and start taking your first classes at college, you’ll come to find that your priorities are continuously being shifted around throughout the semester, and really for the rest of your college career.

Sometimes you find yourself in a situation where you’re taking anywhere from 12 to 20 credits a semester, and other times you might have to pick up a part-time job to help pay for school. And, sometimes, you’re an art or music major taking a bunch of math and science classes that you don’t give a sh*t about.

Those stupid Gen. Ed.’s.

Most American universities require their students to choose from a list of carefully selected curriculum and general education classes - in addition to the classes needed for their major(s) - in order to graduate. It almost ALWAYS includes a language requirement.

Of course, you have your holy trinity of college language classes. Spanish (the father). German (the son). Mandarin (the holy ghost). However, most colleges and universities also offer a much wider selection of language classes than high schools can provide for their students. For example, many of my classmates are learning Latin to pair with their English major.  

However, college students are not taking these classes seriously.

While it’s true that most students are only interested in taking the necessary classes needed to graduate, and some research suggests that the number of people enrolled in language classes drops every year, despite the language requirement (America’s Modern Language Association). Research also shows that they are doing very poorly in these classes, and are not retaining much of the language.

This is very worrisome, especially when you consider the amount of competition students face when attempting to join the workforce right out of college.

Many employers have recently expressed the need for multilingual employees, especially for jobs focused on business or mass media. And as the world becomes more globalized and foreign companies become more integrated within each other’s economies, American students could potentially find themselves at a disadvantage to multilingual workers from abroad.

Also, becoming fluent in another language only opens you to much more opportunities, whether it be for a job, internship, or something completely separate. Often, as college students, we randomly find ourselves deciding to study abroad for the summer or even a whole semester . . . only to be thrust into a new country with very little knowledge on how to communicate with the people who live there.

Aside from study abroad programs, there are also many positions available within the government as translators or interns. And, often, these governmental programs will give you money in scholarships just for working for them. Honestly, that sounds like a win-win.

So . . . If we were to list the reasons why you shouldn't just sit in the back of your Spanish class, drooling on your desk or surfing the web for cheap bathing suits, we would probably sort them out like this:

 

  1. Gives you an edge when applying for jobs right out of college

  2. Opens you to a wider network of jobs opportunities/internships

  3. There are more scholarships available for multilingual students

  4. Allows you to study abroad with more ease

  5. Finally, it lets you communicate with people around the world and allows you to learn from other cultures

 

These reasons are NOT listed this way to insinuate that one is more important or relevant than the other. In fact, there really should be no other reason to study another language in college other than you have the ability to. Again, people have different priorities and a language requirement might just be really low on their college to-do list. That being said, if you have to take them anyway as a General Education requirement, you should try to view this instead as an opportunity to learn something new and maybe even find something that you’re passionate about.

And, for God’s sake, the least you could do is skim through your vocabulary cards.