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Why Study Languages at University?

A good languages course is one of the most multi-disciplinary that any degree can offer.

It will cover literature, grammar, vocabulary, linguistics, speaking, current affairs, culture and history. This can seem daunting, but it arms the student with an impressive arsenal of skills that will remain with them for the rest of their life.

The technique of being able to interpret fluently is a hugely different talent from that of analysing a poem. Both will be asked of a languages student on the majority of courses. This diversity and breadth of experience should be embraced.

If you are torn between studying a literature course or a languages course think about selecting a university where you can cover lots of literature as part of a language course. Ask yourself, if I do not study this as part of my course, will I ever pick up Cervantes, Pushkin, Goethe or Proust of my own accord? Certainly, one can imagine dipping independently into Dickens in adult life. A language course forces the student to challenge and push themselves at a time when our minds are at their most fertile and open to new prospects. You will learn from resources and infrastructure that will never be on offer to you again.

A languages course suits a student with a sense of adventure. Chances are, youll be spending up to a year away from university and home in the native country of your chosen language(s). Of course, the transition has its ups and downs, but I would encourage all students worried about their year abroad to think about when else in their life they might have the opportunity to live abroad with funding from the government and university and left pretty much to their own devices? You will make friends for life and the year abroad becomes a totally unique chapter in every language students life.

Language degrees are by their very nature highly sociable. You meet many different lecturers and tutors across the many departments. You might spend your time conversing, or examining how psycholinguistics have informed how societies have formed today.

You should never study a language because it is useful. You should study only that which excites you, even if it seems obscure. If you enjoy a subject, you will excel at it. You are vastly more interesting as a graduate with a great flair for Czech or Italian than someone with only half-baked Spanish or Mandarin.

Language students graduate with a broad and sophisticated skill set. They also have had the opportunity to explore themselves and other cultures. For this reason, you will leave with a maturity that often exceeds that of fellow students.

As the world gets smaller every day, demand for employees with language skills is on the rise. Although English might be the current international language, never underestimate the power of speaking another tongue. Every language you learn cultivates an awareness of the nuances of human nature and interaction. A language student possesses this privilege; it will provide professional and personal satisfaction for the rest of your life.

Additional resources:

The Benefits of Being Multilingual
The Value of Studying Languages
Why You Should Learn More Languages

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