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Learn a Language While Studying Abroad

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University is meant to expand your horizons in every possible way - and one aspect of this is the chance to learn a languageIn today’s globalized world, having a second or third language will definitely prove very useful. While English is a lingua franca in much of the world, there are countries where it is not commonly spoken. Whether it’s because you want to travel, to boost your career options or even just for fun, learning a new language is certainly something worth exploring at university.

Why at university?

The answer as to why to learn a language at university is quite simple; universities usually have dedicated language centers that teach French, Spanish, Arabic and Mandarin amongst other subjects. The cost of these classes is reduced for students and usually much cheaper than what you would pay elsewhere. Classes are also tailored to fit around student schedules, so you shouldn’t have to miss any lectures or compromise on other priorities. An added advantage is that you’ll be able to add the course to your CV ready for when you graduate.

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How to choose a language?

For those of you who want to learn a language simply for the love of it this will probably be an easy choice – just pick the language you’re most excited about! For others it may be slightly more challenging.

With China becoming an economic superpower and increasing business being conducted in Mandarin, having the ability to speak this language is a huge plus point with many employers. For anyone interested in travelling – whether for fun or for work – Spanish is the most widely spoken language after English, so would probably be beneficial to you.

Literature and history lovers might want to consider Latin; though no longer a ‘living language’, it is the basis of many languages, and the influence of classical texts written in Latin remains absolutely huge.

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Then there’s Portuguese – important largely due to the rising status of Brazil, one of the so-called  BRIC economies. Or perhaps GermanGermany is after all one of the world’s most popular study destinations, and is easing visa restrictions for employment for international students. Knowledge of German would also make Dutch easier to pick up.

Thinking fashion? Think French, a language known for its beauty and romance – and if nothing else, it’ll get you access to some of the world’s best wines and cheeses!

The most important thing is to consider what you want to gain out of learning the language and how useful it will be to you. Anyone considering working for an international organization like the UN: the more languages you speak the better!

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What else should you consider?

Before diving into an intensive language course, make sure you’re being realistic. Check your workload; if you have a few evenings free each week and don’t have many submission deadlines, then absolutely take advantage of learning a language.

On the other hand if you’re in the middle of a really demanding degree, then assess whether you will have the time to attend classes– you don’t want to end up paying for 10 sessions and only going to two. If in doubt, speak to the course teacher or current students to get an idea of how much work will be involved, and how flexible the course is.

Overall, however, if you can find the time to learn a language, you’ll definitely be glad you did. Next time you hear someone talking in a different language (hot gossip?!) it will be your chance to show off your linguistic prowess. Or maybe you’ll get introduced to a friends’ French parents, or a potential career contact – being able to hold a conversation with someone in their own language will always impress.

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Written by Moynaa Aparajit

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