Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Life > Academics

Looking for a GE? Consider Learning a New Language

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCD chapter.

Among the many differences between college and high school are the expansive courses one can enroll in. Gone is the pain of taking every single a-g requirement. In college, students have the opportunity to take courses that interest them and are able to concentrate their studies on a specific subject or field. Even general education courses tend to allow students to select topics and courses that cater more to their interests rather than specific courses for certain requirements. With the freedom of course selection up to the individual, it can be difficult to choose what to take (especially with so many options available). As a first year, I decided to pick up an introductory language course in Italian to fulfill GE unit requirements. Though I had already passed my language requirement with AP Spanish credits, I decided to enroll in Italian simply because I was excited to see that the university even offered it.

After taking my first quarter of the language,  I decided to continue through the “series” as I was anxious to learn more and more. I liked the consistency of the class: same people, same professor, and same, small environment. With my major having extra room for more units, I later decided to continue with Italian to a higher level and eventually claim a double major in the language. As I plan to study abroad next fall, I reflect on my seemingly random decision to enroll in a language course and (biasedly) encourage others to do the same. Here are the top three reasons why any college student (with the time and interest) should enroll in a language course. 

  1. Connect with a small environment on campus 

Oftentimes, the language departments are relatively small at universities, thus meaning that you can get a more direct and intimate language education. At UC Davis, many introductory courses are lecture-based with up to 500 students in each course. Though larger lectures can foster a great learning environment, smaller, more traditional classroom-like classes can also be beneficial. Many language courses are similar to high school courses in that they value participation, class discussion, etc–similar to a discussion section. The elementary language courses tend to be 5 days a week for 50 minutes long–though the everyday time may sound daunting, the consistency helps to both retain the information and to develop a strong weekday routine. In addition, language courses require a lot of practice and conversing with other students, so it is important that the environment is intimate. 

  1. Benefit from Study Abroad 

When able, college students often take the opportunity to study abroad during their time at university to enhance their education and gain a new perspective on the world around us. Though the study abroad experience can be beneficial for all students no matter their area of study, having acquired the language of your country of interest can provide many opportunities to both practice and solidify your language skills. With the skill of knowing another language, studying abroad can be much more fulfilling as one can both experience the culture of a new country while simultaneously developing new skills conversing in another language. 

  1. Develop a tangible skill

Classes in college are great to build your knowledge about certain subjects, however, many of these courses provide just that: knowledge. And, though many of these courses are helpful in many ways, developing language courses help more than just building knowledge—one can also gain a whole new set of skills to communicate with different populations of people. Plus, getting a language under your belt in college is a great way to utilize tuition dollars to learn something that will benefit you aside from your field of interest. 

Overall, one of the best decisions I have made this far in my college experience is choosing to stick with my Italian language courses. I have been challenged to get out of my comfort zone and pursue opportunities I never could have imagined myself finding, all while meeting great classmates, professors, and a niche environment on campus. 

Rachel is a third-year student at UC Davis. She is majoring in Communication and Italian with hopes to go into journalism after graduating. In her free time, she loves to spend time with friends, read, go to the gym, and do any activity outside, whether it be swimming, going for a morning walk, etc.