5 Reasons You Should Be Studying A Foreign Language

Ciao! Bonjour! Hola! Hello! The beauty of learning a foreign language is often overshadowed by the “mandatory requirement” that pushes nearly every college student into language classes across the nation, but being forced to study another language and culture may be a blessing in disguise. With knowledge of another language comes a whole slew of new opportunities. Here are five reasons to study a foreign language in college that aren’t “because it’s mandated.”

1. Enriches Learning

Learning a second language has been proven by psychologists to improve overall brain function and cognitive skills. According to a New York Times article, Yudhijit Bhattacharjee reports that “studies suggests that the bilingual experience improves...executive function — a command system that directs the attention processes that we use for planning, solving problems and performing various other mentally demanding tasks.” In other words, while you’re studying another language, your critical thinking skills are improving as well. This serves obvious benefits because not only will this help in your foreign language class, it will improve your ability to understand concepts in other areas, too. Not to mention how cool it’ll be to become the one kid in class that connects their newfound foreign language to topics from all subjects.

2. Discover Another Culture

With a new language comes a new culture, and discovering another country’s way of life can be both fascinating and beautiful. You will be introduced to new types of cuisine, art, music, dance and even clothing. You will encounter new traditions. Some may be unfamiliar, but some may hold striking similarities to your own. You could even learn something about yourself and your own family. Becoming familiar with another culture will also increase your ability to reach out and connect with those who are different from you, and in this world of increasing hostility toward one another, even the tiniest step in the direction of empathy can make a difference.

3. Make New Friends

Learning a foreign language will also help you form new friendships that you might not otherwise have come across on your own. The first few semesters of learning a foreign language, everyone is struggling to understand the material, the grammar, the rules, etc. Everyone is back at the kindergarten level, and this forms a sense of camaraderie. You’re all in this together, and because of this, you’ll inevitably make friends with at least two or three of the people in your class. Odds are, they’ll stick with you for at least a few semesters. In addition, learning a new language also allows you to make friends with people in other countries that you never would have been able to speak to otherwise. 

4. Study Abroad

One unique aspect of college is the ability to study abroad in a variety of other countries all across the world. Most participate in this to fulfill an experiential learning requirement or to just be able to travel somewhere else once before heading into the world of career employment, but whatever the reason, having a second language in your arsenal makes this opportunity much easier and much more rewarding. There are so many study abroad options that no matter what language you’re studying, you’ll be able to travel to the country of that language for a semester or even a year. This would allow you to actually communicate with those you encounter instead of fumbling your way through the trip, frantically using Google Translate to ask where the nearest bathroom is. It’ll also help cement the language in your brain, and immersion within the language will cause it to feel natural.

5. Job Opportunities

Lastly, the culmination of the aforementioned reasons ultimately combine to create exciting and interesting new job opportunities, as well as open doors that would’ve otherwise been closed to you. Many prestigious companies and employers look for qualities and abilities in prospective employees that allow them to communicate with a wider range of people, especially in highly competitive fields, such as business or law. It doesn’t just look good on a job application, though. Knowing a second language well also affords you the ability to apply for and work at jobs in other countries.

The benefits of being bilingual are priceless, so before you decide to quit after that second semester, think about the things you could do and the places you could go if you just continued!

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