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5 Reasons to Study Foreign Language at University
4 min

5 Reasons to Study Foreign Language at University

Dec 2, 2021
4 min

International students in university campus

Studying a foreign language at a university is not an easy decision to make. If you have studied a foreign language throughout school and college, it can feel like the natural next step to continue learning at degree level. Of course, studying anything at university will be a challenging experience, so you must have a genuine interest in your subject to sustain you for the three or 4-year course. If you consider doing a foreign language on its own or as part of a joint honors degree, read below for the numerous ways it can be beneficial.

1. Your communication skills will improve massively

Speaking in a second language with a limited vocabulary will undoubtedly push you to your limits. Without the correct words, you will be forced to get creative with communicating what you are trying to say. This may range from describing what you mean to using exaggerated hand gestures and miming - whatever you need to get the point across.

Of course, this will drastically improve your language skills as your vocabulary is increasing daily. Furthermore, you must be as straightforward as possible to be understood by native speakers. This will mean you will be accustomed to speaking very clearly and directly to people, so any mumbling, speaking too quietly, or bad eye contact will pretty much vanish in no time!

2. Improve your cultural awareness

Studying a new language at university will ensure you understand your target language's culture/cultures in-depth. Many think that learning a language at university is just studying grammar and vocabulary. In reality, you are looking at a range of subjects from history and politics to literature and sociology, all in your target language. This will ensure you are well versed in all of the major historical turning points of the country and have a good understanding of issues they are still dealing with.

3. Become a global citizen

Rather than simply consuming all of your media in English, you can genuinely become a participating global citizen based on English news. With second or even a third language under your command, you will have no problem-consuming media from across the world.

You may develop a passion for French films or a certain French YouTuber - the list goes on. Finding ways to incorporate your second language into the media you enjoy consuming is easy to keep up practice while also learning valuable cultural references. Furthermore, you will be able to fully submerge yourself in the culture while you are there, from going to a small local market to watching a play or a musical at a theater.

4. You will gain a competitive edge in the job market

Job prospects may not be the primary motivating factor for studying a language at university. However, it is certainly a nice bonus. Lots of employers are interested in recruiting employees who can speak at least one other language. This is not necessarily because they want to send you to a different office or chat with people in your second language.

Instead, studying a second language shows an employer that you are likely to have excellent communication skills and will adapt quickly to new situations, and the ability to convey your message effectively. Furthermore, all language degrees require you to spend a year either working or studying abroad. If you opt for working abroad, you have the option of either gaining one year of work experience in your industry or working as an English Language assistant with the British Council.

5. Broaden your travel horizons

If you have visited a new country with minimal language skills, it can taint your experience and mean that you don't feel a massive connection to the country. However, once you are studying this language at university, your appreciation for the government can vastly increase, and you will indeed be able to appreciate the locals' cultural nuances and day-to-day activities.

Once you can communicate in the target language, you will be able to connect with a range of people, from the baker to the bank clerk to a stranger on the street - language will not be a barrier. It is also highly likely that, with access to the language, you will be exposed to numerous experiences that you may not have encountered before, and you will learn a lot from them.

Do you need help choosing the right university course for you?

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