Some people wonder why they should learn a foreign language, especially if they plan never to live or work outside the United States. Isn't the whole world learning English? In many fields and in many international arenas, English seems to be the main language of communication. So why should you learn a foreign language? Consider these reasons:
Knowing a foreign language can help you contribute to making the world a better place.
In today's global environment, the knowledge of other languages and cultures is an absolute necessity, not only for economic and political survival, but also for international cooperation in dealing with the many problems facing the world today.
The study of foreign languages has always been, in most parts of the world, an integral part of what it means to be educated. Being proficient in more than one language will enhance your ability to participate effectively in the local, national, and international debates of the 21st century.
Foreign language education is in the interest of national and international security. We need to be able to understand global events and interactions from perspectives other than our own.
Yes, you can learn about other cultures in English, but without knowing the language of that other culture and being able to interact with the people in their own language, your knowledge will remain superficial.
Is the whole world learning English? No, but more and more people are. However, you will never really be on equal footing with people from another culture, even if they do speak English. If they know your language, and you do not know theirs, you will always be at a decided disadvantage.
Do you want to make the world a better place? Gaining knowledge of other languages and cultures is a good place to start!
Knowing a foreign language will give you the edge on the job market, in career advancement, and knowledge of your discipline.
More and more employers in businesses and other fields that do work both in and outside of the U.S. are seeking employees with foreign language skills and international experience for higher level positions.
The so-called "soft skills"—including communication skills, leadership ability, ability to work in teams, and ability to work in and across foreign cultures—are becoming just as important as "hard" technical or professional knowledge. Many CEO's and managers acknowledge that technical or specialized knowledge is no longer enough to achieve success and upward mobility.
If you are working for a U.S. or foreign company overseas or for a foreign company here in the U.S., and think you can get by with English, think again! Even if meetings are conducted in English, much of the corridor talk, social life, and other discussion will take place in the other language. You'll be at a real disadvantage if you can't participate.
Knowledge of a foreign language can give you access to information in your own discipline that is not available in English. Even if foreign language texts are available in translation, your ability to read these texts in the original language will give you the edge in research and scholarship.
Knowing another language and spending time living in another culture can open (unexpected) doors for you, and change your life profoundly.
Speaking another language and living in another culture challenges who you are, and makes you examine your very identity. It involves you in a process of change that can only happen through a sustained and non-superficial encounter with the unfamiliar. This is what growth is all about.
Speaking another language can open doors for you, physically, mentally, even spiritually. It can lead you to places you never dreamed you would ever be.
Studying foreign languages and cultures will contribute to the development of your analytical, critical, and interpretive abilities. (Some studies have even shown a direct correlation between foreign language study and improved performance in verbal and mathematical skills.)
Spend at least a semester in a country where a language other than English is spoken. You will come back a different person, and you will definitely be more interesting to your monolingual, mono-cultural peers.
See also the article on "Why language study should be part of your college experience."
Foreign Language (FL) The foreign language requirement may be met in different ways, depending upon the level at which students begin the study of the language in question, but every graduate of Trinity College is expected to attain proficiency at least equivalent to that of the first intermediate course in that language.
Most languages include two semesters at the elementary level (e.g. Spanish 101 and 102), two semesters at the intermediate level (e.g. Spanish 203 and 204) and then advanced courses at the 300-level.
- If you begin your language study at Duke at the elementary level, you can fulfill the foreign language requirement by completing three (3) courses coded FL in one language (e.g. Spanish 101-102-203 or Spanish 102-203-204).
- if you place into the first semester of the intermediate level, you will take three courses in this language (e.g. Spanish 203-204-300-level).
- if you place into the second semester of the intermediate level, you will take two courses in the same language (e.g. Spanish 204-300 level).
- If you place into the 300-level, you will take one course.
Note: Courses completed in order to fulfill the foreign language requirement must all be taken in the same language.
• Goal: For all Duke students to have a level of competency in a second language sufficient to enable them to engage meaningfully with another culture in its own language
• Objectives: We seek for students to:
– Develop sufficient proficiency in a second language to engage foreign cultures, histories and literatures
– Gain an understanding of the nature of culture in as far as it is embodied in language
– Bring a cultural perspective to bear to enhance understanding of issues of similarity and difference