Today we have a guest post by Lindsey Wright.
Nearly everyone will take a language course in college. For some students, the course simply fills a general education requirement by giving them basic knowledge of a language, while others plan to study a language extensively in college. However, for people to truly grasp a language, it is necessary to spend time among those who speak it. Therefore, ideally, every language study course should require a student to participate in a study abroad program. Yet this is not the case for most schools. This could be due to the fact that there aren’t enough students interested in the program or that the universities simply do not have the funding. However, if you take a moment to think consider all the reasons why language students should study abroad, the case is quite compelling.
Perhaps the biggest reason to require a study abroad program is how much it can help you learn a language. There is no better way to learn a language than be immersed in it. When you travel to another country, you constantly hear the language you are studying. Before long, you will start understanding what people are saying with ease. In many situations, you will be forced to speak that language in order to get something you need. Thus, when you are studying abroad, your speaking and listening skills will improve rapidly. In addition, you experience that language in the proper cultural context. You will get a feel for the way people talk and the slang terms they use. If you are going to be a language expert, these are things you need to understand.
Another huge benefit of studying abroad is that you have the opportunity to understand a different culture. While learning slang and mannerisms is a part of experiencing another culture, there is much more to it than that. By traveling abroad, you will get an idea of every aspect of that culture. You will learn what words and motions are appropriate and which ones aren’t. You will learn how loud or soft people talk in various situations. You can’t fully grasp these things unless you spend time in that country. Learning the little things will go a long way in your career. If nothing else, understanding the culture will make your travel experience a lot easier.
Studying abroad also gets you out of the classroom, which is crucial. You can only learn so much from lectures and books. However, participating in a study abroad program will allow you to learn everything first hand. By doing so, you may find a specific aspect of the language or culture you love, that could help you figure out a career path. On the flip side, you may find that learning the language isn’t for you. Either way you are teaching yourself, which in itself will prove invaluable, as it is a different experience entirely from learning in a classroom.
By traveling abroad, you increase your chances of networking with people in that culture, which could prove handy if you enter a career in business. The more connections you have, the better your career prospects will be. You may even meet someone who can offer you a job right out of college. American companies are becoming increasingly global, and having experience in a different culture is a huge plus on your resume. If you aren’t interested in business, you will still be satisfied with making connections in a social context. No matter what you want to do in life, building relationships is essential. Making friends or contacts from another country will expand your horizons.
When you study abroad, you also enhance your education. While abroad, you will have the opportunity to take classes that aren’t offered on your regular campus. Not only is this a great way to learn something you never thought you would, but it will also look good on your transcript. One of the best ways to find unique classes is to participate in a study abroad program.
If you are interested in studying a language, you should definitely participate in a study abroad program. In the short term, the experience will enhance your college experience and education. In the long term, it will prove beneficial when it comes to pursuing a career. Given all the benefits, every language student should study abroad.