Top Ten Reasons Why Learning a Foreign Language Can Help You Succeed

Dec 09, 2010

Due to significant budgetary shortfalls, more and more universities are announcing plans to cut foreign language departments. In response to this alarming trend, is here to remind students and professionals why learning a foreign can help you succeed.

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Foreign Languages Fading From Academe

No matter how dire their financial straits, museums are almost unilaterally forbidden to sell (or deaccession) items from their collections. There's a lot of reasoning behind the prohibition, but it comes down to the idea that preserving the collection is integral to the museum's existence. When a museum sells off pieces one by one, the institution damages the public's trust and finds itself on a 'slippery slope.'

Similarly, one could argue that providing an education is integral to a university's mission, and that eliminating whole academic programs puts higher education on a slippery slope. Yet that is exactly what institutions like the State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany, the University of Iowa and Florida State University are threatening to do.

This fall, SUNY Albany announced that it will no longer be admitting students to the French, Italian, Russian or classics programs, eliminating the departments once current students have graduated. And several other universities have admitted that they're considering following suit.

Why are language programs getting put on the chopping block? Grim financial predictions have led institutions to search for long-term savings. Cutting a department offers a permanent savings on faculty salaries and other program support. So SUNY Albany identified several programs with fewer students (theater is on the list as well) and slated them for elimination in two years.

Of course, student enrollment is a spurious way to measure the importance of an academic program. Those figures can change over time, and they conceal the relationships between departments. Foreign languages have particular interdisciplinary importance since they serve many other humanities disciplines that require advanced, multilingual studies.

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Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • African Languages
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  • Arabic Language
  • Biblical Languages
  • Celtic Languages and Literature
  • Chinese Language
  • Czech Language
  • Danish Language
  • Dutch and Flemish Language
  • Filipino and Tagalog Language
  • French Language
  • German Language
  • Greek Language - Classical
  • Greek Language - Modern
  • Hebrew Language
  • Indian Languages - Classical
  • Iranian and Persian Languages
  • Italian Language
  • Japanese Language
  • Korean Language
  • Latin Language
  • Norwegian Language
  • Polish Language
  • Portuguese Language
  • Romanian Language
  • Russian Language
  • Scandinavian Languages
  • Spanish Language and Literature
  • Swedish Language

Speaking Your Language

Here at, we think that foreign language is an important part of academic and professional success. So in honor of these disappearing programs, we'd like to remind you of ten ways that foreign language can help you succeed:

1. Develop learning skills.

Research has shown that learning another language can help you develop invaluable cognitive abilities.

2. Get multicultural.

Studying foreign language is key to understanding different cultures, and multiculturalism can enrich your personal and professional life in a globalized world.

3. Travel.

Traveling can literally open you up to new worlds, and knowing a foreign language makes it immensely easier. Even if you're traveling to a country that speaks an entirely different language, the more languages you have at your disposal the easier it will be to find someone with whom you can communicate.

4. Study abroad.

Speaking a foreign language isn't just good for pleasure travel - it can also increase your options for studying abroad. Don't miss the top 10 things that studying abroad can do for you.

5. Go to grad school.

Just because colleges are eliminating their language departments doesn't mean that graduate schools are eliminating their language requirements. Many master's and Ph.D. programs require applicants to have reading knowledge of languages other than English.

6. Be more employable.

Knowing a foreign language can make you a useful resource for most businesses, and it helps you stand out from a crowd of job applicants.

7. Build job skills.

In the global economy, speaking another language won't just help you get the job - it can increase your performance by making it easier to communicate with professional contacts all over the world.

8. Live abroad.

Have you ever fantasized about living in another country or having a truly international career? Most of the rest of the world is multilingual. Living the global lifestyle will likely require you to speak at least one language other than English.

9. Improve your English.

Studying a foreign language can actually make you a better speaker of your native language as you become more familiar with the parts of speech and the building blocks of grammar.

10. Enrich yourself.

Travel is just one of the rich experiences that foreign language can facilitate. You can also read books and watch movies in their original languages, develop international friendships and have a whole new way of expressing yourself.

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