Drawing stick figures and pantomiming will only get you so far. To truly communicate across cultures, becoming fluent in another language is essential. As the world shrinks, the opportunity to forge meaningful connections across borders, time zones, and languages becomes more immense. If you’re dreaming in foreign languages and new sounds seem to roll off your tongue, why not take your knack for language and turn it into a degree? Earning a degree from the best colleges for foreign languages is the first step toward world toward finding a fulfilling career and meeting your goal to become bilingual. Or trilingual. Why stop at two?
Why Earn a Degree in Languages Abroad
Asking why you should earn foreign language degrees is like asking why you should you should learn how to swim in water, or learn how to cook in a kitchen. In order to become fully fluent in another language (and culture), you must go where it is spoken. And, to expand upon the learning to swim metaphor, eventually you have to do more than get your feet wet, you must dive in head first.
Degrees open doors. What’s the advantage to obtaining a degree versus just learning the language? Well, for many career paths, a university degree is expected or even required. If you have ambitions beyond grammar and verb conjugations, partnering a degree from top language programs with any other field will make you a stand-out applicant for future jobs. You’ll be well-equipped to take on new challenges, and in more than one language.
When it’s all said and done, you’ll have the degree in hand, but you’ll also have so much more. Earning a modern language degree requires dedication, flexibility, and a willingness to go outside of your comfort zone. You’ll put these skills to use, and in the process, you’ll also become more dedicated and flexible and willing to try new things. It’s a beautiful little circle that never ends.
It probably goes without saying that where you earn your degree in languages likely depends on what language(s) you plan to study. So, if you swoon for Swahili, you’ll likely wind up in East Africa. If you’re not sure where to go, keep reading.
With incredible ease, you can travel across borders and cultures to experience the multilingual, multicultural continent that is Europe. With more baguettes than you can possibly eat and all the cheese, France is the obvious choice for everything French-language related. Taste some tapas or two in Spain (and pass the jamón, por favor, in between classes!). Spain is an ideal spot to perfect your Spanish and earn your degree. And don’t forget that shoe-shaped peninsula. Italy begs you to kick off your boots and stay a while for a degree in foreign language. Learn Italian (complete with hand motions), earn your degree, and perhaps discover a hidden talent for making homemade pasta.
Asian languages are notoriously difficult for English speakers, so to give yourself a leg up, go to the source. Go to Asia. Get to know the “land of smiles” while also gorging on street food in gorgeous Thailand. As you learn the language and earn your degree, you’ll uncover the side of Thailand that most tourists don’t get to see, and you’ll be able to build relationships with Thai people as well. And of course, being one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, join the smart kids and earn your degree in Mandarin Chinese in China.
Oceania may not be the first place that comes to mind when shooting for foreign language degrees, but there are plenty of reasons to pack your bags and head down under. Mastering your English skills will give you the edge you need to forge ahead in your career. Plus, adventure seekers will delight in the landscapes of New Zealand. From the South Island’s stunning fjords to the high peaks of Mt. Taranaki on the North Island, you’ll want to explore every inch of New Zealand. Australia’s not too shabby either. Beaches, coral reefs, and miles upon miles of outback are but a few of the joys waiting for you.
Foreign Language Degrees
An undergraduate degree in foreign languages will set the stage for many opportunities to come. Most careers in foreign languages require not only knowledge of the language, but also the increasingly important undergraduate degree. Don’t hold yourself back. Get that credential to give yourself the foundation you need for success. Typically, an undergraduate degree requires three to four years of dedication to result in the degree.
Take it a step further and pursue a master’s modern language degree. You’ll dig into the language in depth, often with a slant on linguistics, literature, or applied phonetics, just to name a few. Or, to become a true expert, go all in and earn your doctorate degree in foreign languages. This degree from top language schools will prepare you to teach at the university level, or pursue research that will push your field to new heights.
Benefits & Challenges
Eating, breathing, and living a foreign language can be tough. You’ll find yourself forgetting words for everyday items in your native language, and fatigue can set in as you are constantly immersed in a foreign language while attending top language programs. It can be seriously tiring. Giving yourself language breaks can help with the doldrums set in. Reading a favorite book or magazine in your native language, or chatting with a friend in your home language can help recharge your language learning batteries.
But, on the other hand, living in the country where the language is spoken offers benefits that are difficult to recreate. With all the discussion of career benefits and what not (yada yada), it’s easy to forget that one major benefit of earning a degree abroad in foreign languages is that you’ll gain foreign language skills. That’s kind of a big one. You’ll know all the slang, all the jokes, and catch all of the subtleties that make language so interesting.
And with this knowledge, you’ll be able to develop meaningful relationships with people who speak the language you’re learning — your classmates at top language schools are a good pool of amazing individuals to start with. By understanding another language, as well as the culture that goes along with it, you’ll open the lines of communication to a whole world of individuals.
If you’ve always had a way with words, perhaps it’s time to get that degree in foreign languages abroad. You don’t really need an excuse to study foreign languages in a foreign locale. In fact, it might be weird if you didn’t. So go ahead and take the plunge!