Why Study a Foreign Language?

By Martina Wells, Coordinator of Modern Languages Program, Chatham University

Without a doubt, learning a foreign language comes with many benefits for students. While some of them may seem quite obvious, others may strike you as a surprise. Perhaps of greatest and most immediate importance are those related to your prospect of finding that perfect job after graduating from college.

In an increasingly interdependent world, proficiency in a foreign language will give you a competitive edge on the job market. Not only will it allow you to communicate effectively with people from around the world in your business interactions, but it will empower you to better understand other perspectives and adopt a broader view about all kinds of issues. An important factor for employers operating in the global marketplace, global awareness and cross-cultural competence often translates into a higher paycheck even at the entry level of a career.

All of these benefits are actually the result of changes in your cognitive processing abilities. When you study a foreign language, you learn to think creatively, as functioning in another language teaches you to be flexible and mentally agile in the meaning-making process of communication. Sharpening your analytical thinking capabilities also means becoming a better communicator in your native language – and that’s not all: research shows that polyglots are less prone to develop Alzheimer’s. But, before you worry about Alzheimer’s, enjoy the benefits of learning a foreign language and practice your skills on your Study Abroad trip, your next vacation overseas, or with inter national students on campus.

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