With more and more jobs requiring degrees, many students are having to take a look at what they need to do to get that degree. Many college degrees require a foreign language credit, usually up to the second level of that language. Not all college degrees require you to take a foreign language class, however; many science degrees do not require any foreign languages, though this varies from school to school. On the other hand, almost all art degrees do require it and many students decide to take a language class simply because they want to learn a language. So how do you determine which foreign language to take in college?
Sometimes it’s as easy as what language you would like to learn. If you’ve always been interested in learning, say, Spanish, then you’re in luck. Most colleges teach at least Spanish, French, and American Sign Language (ASL). Languages such as Japanese and Italian are also becoming more popular. Make sure to check your college to see what they offer for a full list. If they don’t offer the language you’re looking for, evaluate if you’re willing to go to a different college just to learn it.
If the college you’re going to does not have the foreign language option you’re looking for, check to see what they do have and if any of those languages interest you. Perhaps you wanted Italian, but your school only offers the ‘basics’. Sometimes taking Spanish would be a good option, as the two languages are very similar. If you wanted Italian, but you find French interesting, take that class. On occasion, you may also have a second choice picked out beforehand.
Now, if you have no idea what language you want to take, and you’re staring at the options in confusion, think about if there are any foreign countries you might want to visit. Even if it’s a country where they largely speak English in many places, it would be helpful to know the native language regardless, as it could make a trip there more interesting. Perhaps it’s a country where your ancestors grew up, or the country of your favorite artist or author. Either way, knowing the native language is always beneficial to traveling in a foreign country.
The other side of the coin for looking at where you want to travel is look at what you are getting a degree in and what you plan on doing with it. If you’re looking to be video game designer, Japanese could be helpful, as Japan has a big video game market. If you’re looking to become a fashion designer, French may be a good option, as Paris is a major player in the fashion industry. A business degree can be trickier, as different business deal more with different countries. If you do your research, you should be able to more easily figure out what language would be the most beneficial for you to learn.
If all else fails, take a class that your friends are taking. When taking a class with friends, you will be able to have help with your homework and someone to practice with. Even if you’re not interested in the language, your friend’s enthusiasm might be contagious. However, don’t take the class your friend is taking simply to take a class with them. Learning a new language is a difficult experience, and if you are interested in another language, you are selling yourself short.
So when you’ve looked at your preference, your options, travel and the practicability, and you’ve found out which language you want to learn, sign up for the foreign language class when it is available. However, it is common for foreign language classes to be homework intensive, often time being more credits than regular classes. So take the foreign language with an otherwise light homework load.