9 Reasons Why You Should Study Another Language

In today's world, knowledge of foreign languages is an essential asset for students of any discipline. Expectations are increasing for scholars and professionals to be able to converse with colleagues across the world concerning matters of mutual interest. Here are 9 reasons why you should study another language:

  1. Many employers, professional schools, fellowships, and graduate schools see serious study of a second language (potentially, a double-major) as evidence that you can (a) put yourself more easily in others' (colleagues', clients') shoes and (b) communicate more effectively even in English.
  2. You will never know your own language and culture more deeply than by studying another--by looking at it from the outside. Learning to thrive with the unfamiliar is often linked to creativity in many intellectual and professional contexts.
  3. Language learning teaches you to think more clearly and sharpens your brain's ability to make sense of the world. 
  4. Deep study of another culture through its language brings home how much of value will never be made available in English.  
  5. Puzzling out another language and culture will help you understand and empathize with the difficulties of non-anglophone immigrants, colleagues, clients, and travelers in the U.S., even if you never leave American shores.
  6. Learning another language well makes it easier to learn any language in the future. Even if you never need this, the experience--especially if you study abroad--will make you far more confident in your ability to face any intellectual or professional challenge.  
  7. Foreign-language courses fit easily into study plans: offered on highly varied schedules, they provide a stimulating break from problem-set driven, heavy-reading or arts courses. Language courses tend to be fun and offer a great way to diversify any program of study.
  8. Most programs stipulate language prerequisites for interning or studying abroad. Continue your language education throughout your first two years at Wesleyan in order to leave the options open down the road.
  9. Alumni who have studied abroad through the medium of a foreign language overwhelmingly identify the knowledge, skills, and self-confidence achieved thereby as their greatest sources of satisfaction regarding their university experience.