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Top 10 Reasons to Learn a Foreign Language

Imagine this: You’re sitting in class when suddenly, the cute, quiet guy in the back raises his hand and asks a question. While you don’t recall exactly what he said, you do remember the swoon-worthy French accent he had. Being the sly collegiate you are, you glance backward and feign a yawn, pretending to look at the clock when you’re actually sneaking a look at him. Lucky you – he’s just your type! What do you do? Immediately learn French and introduce yourself, of course.

It should go without saying that learning a foreign language – cute guy or not – is incredibly useful. For those of us who haven’t gotten around to it, or simply just don’t have the time, here are 10 reasons why learning a foreign language is totally worth it. Who knows? It just might change your mind (and get you that date)!

10. You’ll form a greater appreciation of other cultures.Learning a new language isn’t just about conjugating verbs and memorizing vocabulary words, it’s about immersing yourself in a new culture! Whether you learn about the history of crepes in France or about the construction of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, I guarantee you’ll come out of this experience as a more well-rounded person with a greater appreciation of the history and nuances of other cultures.

9. You’ll be able to study abroad and travel with ease.Sure, you could probably go to another developed country and get away with only speaking English, but why limit yourself? By speaking another language, you’ll be able to visit less-touristy spots and converse with the natives.

8. You can add it to your résumé.How lame is it to have a “languages” section on your résumé and only be able to list English? And no, the three years of Spanish you took in high school no longer count. With more and more college graduates on the market, you need to have skills that will differentiate you from your competition. Speaking another language, such as Mandarin, could only work toward your advantage.

7. You could strengthen relationships with old (or new) friends.Start learning a new language with a friend! Not only will they help your progress by holding you accountable for practicing, but they’ll also be there for you when you’re trying to memorize those pesky irregular verbs or working on your pronunciation. (Bonus: if you both stick with it, you’ll be able to communicate with each other in a foreign language!)

6. You could earn a minor.If you have free electives, take advantage of it! Minors typically only require 24-28 units and can be used to fulfill free electives and GEs. So instead of taking a handful of random classes, put your hard work into something useful! Having a minor in a language can be useful for any major – business majors, engineering majors, and liberal studies majors alike can benefit from a foreign language minor.

5. You’ll get to know your professors.More often than not, your language professor will probably have a slew of anecdotes about their foreign language studies or about living in another country. Listen to them! If you’re at all interested in studying abroad or traveling, they can be a valuable resource.

4. You’ll ameliorate your English.Don’t know what “ameliorate” means? I didn’t either, until I learned it in French. The French verb, “ameliorer” has the same definition as the English verb, “ameliorate”; it means “to improve.” If you choose to learn French, Spanish or Italian, you’ll find that a lot of the words sound similar and mean the same thing. In technical terms, they’re called cognates. Cognates let you have your cake and eat it, too: you’ll double your vocabulary range with only a fraction of the work.

3. You’ll be able to appreciate art in its original form.Sure, we could always read the translated versions of “The Stranger” by Albert Camus or “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoevsky, but the beauty of the stories is bound to get distorted and lost in translation. By learning another language, you’ll be able to read books, listen to news reports and watch movies in their original forms.

2. You’ll be able to get a full 12-unit load every quarter (phew!).Once you start taking upper-division language classes, you’re practically guaranteed to get a spot in them. Some classes rarely fill up – even after open enrollment – which means that even when you’re 9th rotation and wait listed for “The Witch-Hunt in Europe,” you’ll be able to get 12 units. (Another plus: smaller class sizes leads to more opportunities to build and refine your skills!)

1. You’ll be able to talk to that cute French guy.Who are we kidding? Learning a language could really come in handy in situations like these; no matter what other motivations we have to learn a language, this one will always be the most encouraging.

Nikki is a senior at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where her parents think she's on track to graduate early with degrees in both Finance and French. She is -- kind of -- but she currently functions under the delusion that graduation, much like the limit, does not actually exist. In wake of this recent quarter-life crisis, Nikki plans to live out her final days as an undergrad nursing her giant ego, making Mean Girls references, and advocating for the continued use of the Oxford comma. She prefers her dog and s'mores Poptarts over most things, and survives on a delicate combination of iced coffee and cookie dough. In her free time, Nikki enjoys binge watching Modern Family, embarrassing herself in front of cute boys, and making empty promises to go to the gym. Hate mail and Mindy Kaling gifs can be tweeted to her anytime at @nikkikontiki.
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