Why Major in Languages?
Studying languages develops essential skills sought by employers throughout a diverse range of occupations.
- The study of foreign languages can literally make you smarter. The following are highlights from multiple studies conducted on the cognitive benefits of speaking a foreign language:
- Speaking a foreign language is shown to improve the brain’s functionality by challenging it to recognize, negotiate, and communicate in different language systems. By speaking or learning a foreign language, the brain’s ability to negotiate meaning in other problem-solving tasks is increased. A psychologist, Ellen Bialystok from York University in Toronto, said, "It focuses attention on what's important and ignores distraction. Therefore, for a bilingual, the executive control system is used in every sentence you utter. That's what makes it strong.”
- According to the Department of Psychology at Illinois State University, students who study a foreign language tend to score better on tests, especially math, reading, and vocabulary, than their peers who only speak one language.
- The University of Pennsylvania conducted a study which showed that people who speak multiple languages are superb multitaskers because they are able to switch between two systems of speech, writing, and grammatical structures.
- According to a study from the University of Chicago, bilinguals tend to be better at making decisions.
- Learning a foreign language can improve your English speaking skills and can make you more perceptive of grammar and conjugations of sentence structures.
- The study of languages develops communicational skills:
- You can become multilingual! A Gallup study shows that 33% of college graduates and 43% of students with postgraduate education are bilingual. Impressive!
- You learn cross-cultural communication.
- You learn how to express and understand multiple viewpoints,
- The study of languages strengthens reading, writing, and editing skills. Rudolph Pope, who is a Spanish professor at the University of Virginia, observed after grading an assignment completed by his students, “that some of the papers written in Spanish had better syntax than some of the students writing in English."
- The study of languages develops an understanding of people and their cultures:
- You understand and appreciate cultural differences.
- You develop a sensitivity to cultural issues.
- You learn how to appreciate cultural history, literature, politics, music, and more!
- The study of languages strengthens critical thinking and problem-solving skills within and outside of the classroom:
- You develop and strengthen research skills.
- You learn how to analyze information, cultures, and complex problems.
- You learn how to think collaboratively.
- You are able to gather information from a variety of sources.
- You learn how to weigh alternative solutions.
- You learn how to understand alternative perspectives.
You may be asking the age old question: “Will I ever find a job if I major in a foreign language?”
The answer is yes! According to CNN, 25,000 jobs are expected to open for interpreters and translators between 2010 and 2020. This is an estimated 42% growth for the language job market!
Studying another language will set you apart in the job market and make you a stronger candidate for certain job positions.
In fact, those who entered the workforce in 2014 with a second language fluency expected a 10 to 15 percent pay increase.
In 2014, Arvind Chary, who is the managing principle of Atlas Real Estate Partners, was focused on hiring employees who were multilingual when his markets spread to Spanish speaking populations. He said, "We have been raising more capital from abroad and need employees who can communicate with our foreign investors. I would encourage anyone to learn a second language in order to advance their career opportunities."
What kind of jobs are available for students who study a foreign language?
- An interpreter
- A Translator
- An Attorney
- A Journalist
- An International Relations Specialist
- A Teacher or Professor
- A Librarian
- A Copywriter
- A Court Interpreter
- An Editor
- A Publisher
- Careers in film and entertainment
The options are limitless!
Do you want to share a major with a multitude of celebrities? Then the foreign languages are for you!
- Joseph Gorden-Levitt is a pro at French after studying French poetry at Columbia University!
- Our former United States president, Herbert Hoover, translated a book on mining known as the De Re Metallica from Latin to English! Wow!
- Brooke Shields majored in the Romance languages at Princeton!
- Jimmy Carter studied Spanish at the United States Naval Academy!
- Ashley Judd was a French major at the University of Kentucky.
- Chris Martin from the band Coldplay studied Greek and Latin at the University College London.
- Woodrow Wilson learned German while earning his Ph.D. in history and political science from John Hopkins University.
- Our beloved J.K. Rowling earned her Bachelor’s degree in French and Classical studies from Exeter University.
- Bill Clinton studied German at Yale University.