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Top 7 Reasons to Take a Degree in a Foreign Language

Oct 8, 2014
  • Education
Top 7 Reasons to Take a Degree in a Foreign Language
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Whether academic, aspirational or a combination of factors, there is a multitude of reasons why you may be considering learning a new language or taking a degree in a foreign language. From introductory coursework to advanced degrees, schools and universities all over the world offer language studies which can help transform your dream into a reality. And while mastering a foreign language takes no small amount of time and effort, the payoffs are exponential. If you’re still on the fence about whether modern language study is the right path, consider the many advantages offered by multilingualism.

1 - Job Marketability

The contemporary workplace is increasingly globalized. As the digital era continues to break down conventional geographical barriers, international collaboration has reached critical mass. Businesses need employees who can keep pace with the new global landscape. In many cases, this means multilingual workers who don't just speak other languages, but who also understand and value diverse cultures.

Studying a degree in a foreign language doesn’t just bestow upon you a highly desirable skill set, it also gives you an invaluable leading edge by presenting you to potential employers as a distinctly 21st century candidate.

2 - Job Success

Not only can foreign language skills help you get a job, they can also help you keep one. Why? Because mastering several languages isn’t just about words; it’s also about an underlying cultural understanding that is particularly sought after in today's workplace. This perspective can help you get ahead in a number of industries -- from medicine and marketing to teaching and technology. In short, language skills don't just open doors; they keep them open.

There's no better way to understand a foreign colleague's business expectations than by understanding his language and culture. In fact, some research indicates that bilinguals are more perceptive because of their ability to intuit subtle meanings from a variety of sounds. So not only will you improve your reading, writing and talking skills, you'll also improve your listening skills -- an essential skill when it comes to business negotiations.

Lastly, if you plan to work in government, studying a foreign language is a necessity: many jobs -- particularly those in diplomacy and immigration -- require a second language. Read more about language courses here.

Thank You Word Cloud printed on colorful  paper different languages

3 - It’s a Multicultural World

While learning about other cultures helps you on the job front, there's an even bigger picture when it comes to mastering several languages. If you want to be a responsible citizen of the world, multilingualism offers a valuable viewpoint into other cultures, ways of life, and personal experiences. In learning new languages, you will develop a deeper respect for other people, as well as a larger understanding of human nature and the world at large.

There’s no better way to expand your horizons and gain a broader world perspective than through international travel. Correspondingly, there's no better way to travel internationally than as a speaker of the local language. In improving your ability to communicate, you are improving your ability to connect. Read more about Master and Bachelor degrees in Mordern languages.

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4 - Boost Your Brain (And Your Body!)

Sure, speaking a foreign language makes you a more marketable job candidate, but did you know that learning to recognize and communicate in a different language actually alters positively your cognitive abilities? These advantages are seen across several areas, including problem-solving and even test scores.

Specifically, research has shown that bilingual children have a unique cognitive configuration which enables them to outperform monolinguals -- those who speak only one language -- in standardized tests in subjects such as vocabulary, reading and even math.

Another study highlights areas where bilinguals show outstanding skills, such as in the ability to hone in on relevant information and discard the rest. The result? People who speak multiple languages are more successful multitaskers because they can better prioritize tasks while balancing several projects. (This contradicts the prior belief that bilingualism interfered with brain function.)

And the best part? The more you use your brain, the sharper it gets. Just like physical activity tones the body, mental activity associated with learning and practicing a new language delivers a memory-bolstering workout that keeps your brain finely tuned.

While much of the research pertains to bilingual children, research with older adults shows equally desirable benefits: advanced mental abilities may be an effective means of warding off age-related cognitive impairments, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

5 - Improve Your First Language Skills

Learning a second, third or fourth language offers surprising benefits when it comes to your understanding of your native tongue. When children first assimilate language, much of it is absorbed naturally and seemingly without much thought for rhyme or reason. Learning an additional language as an adult, however, forces you to go back and consider how the mechanics of language work. This raised awareness can improve your ability to structure and manipulate language -- ultimately leading to refined writing and editing skills.

dynamisches team am schreibtisch im büro

6 - Make Better Decisions

Did you know that one good decision -- at least when it comes to foreign language study -- leads to another? Why? Because speaking a second language actually has the ability to improve your overall decision-making skills. In an article published in Psychological Science, researchers concluded that speaking in a foreign language promotes analytical thoughts over emotional ones. In other words, the decision to pursue foreign language study has the potential to inspire a lifetime of good decisions.

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7 - Study in One of The Many Schools and Universities Around the World

There are many opportunities all over the world if you are interested in studying languages either as a field of study, or as a tool to study a specific field such as business, finance, arts, engineering, etc. in a specific country. Be smart and think of combining disciplines in order to optimize your learning experience. Take, for instance, Frankfurt School of Finance & Management and their Bachelor degrees in Business Administration and Management & Economics both taught in German. You will be able to both work on your language skills and master the field of Business, Economics, and Administration. You can find degrees taught in various languages in high quality establishments such as: the Univeristy of PassauFHDW Fachhochschule der Wirtschaft , bbw University of Applied ScienceHochschule Neuss fuer international Wirtschaft , the University of GöttingenBTK University of Art & Design, and Alinguas in Germany, Ogarev Mordovia State University , ITMO University, Saint Petersburg Electronical University, Northern (Arctic) Federal University, and Lobachevsky State University Of Nizhni Novgorod, and Far Easter Federal University in Russia, the European Humanities University in Lithuania, TIAS School for Business and Society in the Netherlands, Danubius University in Romania, the ISCAM in Madagascar, the ESCA in Morocco, and the University of Hautes Études Internationales-Hautes Études Politiques, NEOMA-BS, Hautes Études d'Ingénieur in France.

You can even find programs offered in several languages, like ISCOM's German-French Master in Communication.

While the learning process can be intense, the advantages of getting to master several languages and using them as a tool to study are undeniable. It's a momentous decision, but not one most regret: in fact, many students cite foreign language studies as among their most meaningful academic endeavors because of the long-reaching benefits.

Joanna Hughes


Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.