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Why Learn a Foreign Language?

In a world that is increasingly interdependent, we can no longer afford to remain monolingual. Success depends in large measure on the ability of an individual to function as a member of a global village whose members speak a variety of languages. Learning foreign languages is no longer a pastime; it is a necessity. How does learning a foreign language help you to meet today’s challenges?

The study of a foreign language:

  • helps you to expand your view of the world.
  • encourages critical reflection on the relation between language and culture, language and thought.
  • expands your opportunities for meaningful leisure activities (such as travel, viewing foreign language films, watching foreign TV programs).
  • develops your intellect (encouraging good learning habits, memorization, combining course content and skills in a meaningful way).
  • improves knowledge of the native language (through comparison and contrast with the foreign language).
  • exposes you to modes of thought and viewpoints that are available only in the foreign language and its culture.
  • helps to build practical skills that may be used in other disciplines.
  • fosters your understanding of the interrelation between language and human nature.
  • teaches and encourages respect for other ethnic groups.
  • contributes to the development of your personality.
  • contributes to the achievement of national goals, such as economic development or national security.
  • increases your sense of self worth. Speaking Italian or Spanish to your grandmother or ordering in French at a French restaurant will do wonders for your ego!

A Foreign Language Opens Up Job Opportunities for You

In the routine performance of their jobs, many people are called upon to use their foreign language skills. In large metropolitan areas such as New York, knowing a foreign language seems almost an essential aspect of urban living.  Many jobs require knowledge of at least one foreign language. Some of the most important include:

The U.S. Government
The United States Government employs Americans who have foreign language skills on a regular basis. The Internal Revenue Service hires people with foreign language skills to handle routine investigations, audits, and communications with United States nationals who speak a foreign language. Other agencies and departments such as the CIA, the FBI, the State Department, the DEA, and the US Armed Services, to name a few, make ample use of people with foreign language skills.

American and International Business
Knowing a foreign language is an important asset for many foreign companies doing business in the US and for US-based international companies. Business leaders know that the ability to communicate with others in their own language is essential in marketing American products abroad.

In Education
The study of Foreign Languages is increasing and the need for teachers will grow accordingly. Foreign languages are taught in intermediate, secondary, and post-secondary schools, both public and private. 

In Public Relations
Knowing foreign languages and their cultures can make the difference between success and failure. The Chevy Nova  failed in Latin America because the marketer did not realize that No va in Spanish means “It does not run.”

In Social Services
The social services deal with so many diverse groups that not knowing foreign languages can and in many cases does hamper their ability to serve the public adequately.

Health Care
The same thing can be said for health care: the ability to communicate with non-English speaking Americans can often make a difference between life and death.

The Department of Languages and Literatures offers students the option to major or minor in French, Italian, and Spanish. They can also minor in German, Modern and Classical Greek, Latin, Russian and Linguistics. The Department also offers a BA/MA degree in Spanish. Our courses range from elementary, intermediate, and advanced language instruction to intensive study of literature, as well as courses on the art of translation. We also offer Literature courses in translation, language courses for specific purposes, such as Spanish for Medical Personnel, Business French and Business Italian, as well as specialized courses such as France and the European Community, Italian Cinema, and Spanish for Law Related Careers. We have a distinguished faculty recognized nationally and internationally for their contributions to their fields.