Why study foreign languages?
Imagine going to another country and being able to talk to a cab driver, understand directions, or even discuss opinions with members of a host family. Imagine making connections with people across the barriers of language, culture, and history. Imagine the ways your personality and life might change when you meet and communicate with people whose cultural background differs from yours. Imagine the difference you might make in the lives of others, inside the US and out, who are reaching out across the world to you. Imagine the difference those people might make to you.
Many students come to college looking for classes that will help them build successful and interesting careers as teachers, business people, communicators, scientists, etc. Others want to grow intellectually, to change the world, or to change themselves. Language and culture study in the Department of Modern Languages at UNI offers majors, minors, and elective courses that meet all those needs, and language programs in French, German, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and other languages. Below are resources designed to help you decide what studying another language might do for you.
Here are some things studying a new language might do for you.
• broadens your experiences; expands your view of the world
• encourages critical reflection on the relation of language and culture, language and thought; fosters an understanding of the interrelation of language and human nature
• develops your intellect; teaches you how to learn
• teaches and encourages respect for other peoples
• contributes to cultural awareness and literacy, such as knowledge of original texts
• builds practical skills (for travel or commerce or as a tool for other disciplines)
• improves knowledge of one's own language through comparison and contrast with other languages
• exposes you to modes of thought outside of your native language
• a sense of relevant past, both cultural and linguistic
• balances content and skill (rather than content versus skill)
• expands opportunities for meaningful leisure activity (travel, reading, viewing foreign language films)
• contributes to achievement of national goals, such as economic development or national security
• contributes to the creation of your personality
• enables the transfer of training (such as learning a second foreign language)
• preserves (or fosters) a country’s image as a cultured nation
The above modified from Alan C. Frantz, "Seventeen Values of Foreign Language Study" (ADFL Bulletin, vol. 28, Nr.1, Fall 1996).
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