With Welcome Week on the horizon for Freshers all over the UK, let’s discuss the benefits of studying a language at university. Even if you aren’t doing a language degree, you will probably still have the choice to pick up a language module. As an enthusiastic linguist, I may be bias, but I really believe that the benefits of studying a language at any level are infinite. Here are some of the top advantages:
Multilingualism is good for you – Learning a language puts your brain cells to work. It can not only improve your general intelligence and memory but it can also slow down the effects of brain ageing.
Transferable skills – Attention to detail, cross-cultural awareness, oral and written skills, independence, decision making and the ability to take on new challenges are all transferable skills, and these are highly sought after by employers across all sectors in today’s job market.
Life can be viewed through the Language Lens – Even if you do not opt for a straight Modern languages degree, there are many opportunities to pick up a language or two. Programs such as the Language Centre at your university or even local organisations offer the chance to take one or two semesters at any level. Doing a language degree at university will enable you to not only learn the language but also the culture, history and society surrounding the language. This will improve your linguistic skills and also provide you with cultural sophistication and the ability to confidently hold engaging conversations with native speakers and future acquaintances after graduation.
Language degrees get you jobs – With the increase of globalisation and international business comes the need for candidates with an edge. There’s no question that employers will choose a candidate with an extra language over another with the same qualifications and experience but no foreign language skills, getting more for their money. Having an extra language on your CV could make the difference when applying for jobs of all types. In 2018, some of the most sought after languages include: Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, French and Arabic.
It can take you anywhere, including a year abroad – Most language students will get the opportunity to complete a year abroad programme either working or studying. It’s in this time, that their linguistic skills will improve immensely as they are immersed in the culture and language. Of course, other transferable skills will appear when faced with the challenges of living abroad such as resilience, independence, problem solving in addition to making friends for life and returning to the UK with new found knowledge and some excellent anecdotes!
Universities offer these opportunities in every year of study. I not only completed my year abroad in Paris but was also lucky enough to travel to Thailand and India and after graduation there was no hesitation in returning to France to work, followed by Italy and then on to China. Of course, many graduates will go on to travel and work regardless of their degree discipline, but I truly believe that studying languages was a key factor for me in becoming interested and successful at living and working abroad in so many amazing places. Bring on the next adventure!
Speaking of which, I should start planning where to go next!
Photo source: Vanessa Wilson
Posted on 18/09/2018
by Vanessa Wilson