Why Foreign Languages Help Students Succeed

If your school timetable allows it, consider learning a new language. Here are few reasons why it’s a great way to complement your degree while opening up a whole new world.

Foreign languages can help you understand your field

If you’re studying anything science related, a little knowledge of Greek can go a long way. Most scientific terms have Greek roots so learning this ancient tongue can help make difficult words much easier to understand. Does the term hemoglobin electrophoresis sound “all Greek” to you? Well it is! History students can also benefit greatly from learning classic languages such as Latin and Hebrew as many English translations miss out on nuances in the original texts.

Broaden your business horizons

If your future career is likely to take you overseas, you can get a leg up on the competition by studying some native tongues now. For example, if you plan to work in emerging markets, learning Mandarin or Cantonese will make you a very attractive candidate for companies looking to expand in China.

Improve your grasp of English

As paradoxical as it sounds, studying grammar and vocabulary in a new language can actually help you understand the rules of English better. Most post-secondary schools have eliminated basic grammar instruction but it is usually the focus in foreign language studies. If you’ve ever wondered what it means to conjugate a verb or use the infinitive, you will be an expert on these terms after studying German or French.

Expand your mind

The very act of acquiring new words is a great mental challenge. Language comes very easily to us when we are young but becomes increasingly difficult as we age. This is no reason to shy away from learning to speak a foreign language! The challenge will help you focus and develop your mental linguistic skills.

Learning new languages can be difficult or frustrating at first but it can also be incredibly rewarding. While you won’t become fluent from just one course, studying a foreign tongue as part of your degree can be the start of an exciting new world. Be sure to nurture your new language by reading, traveling or making friends with people who also speak the language. Two expressions are worth remembering: “practice makes perfect” and “use it or lose it!”

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