Learning a new language jumpstarts future careers

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Elizabeth Evans

Learning a language is like getting a passport: It opens up countless opportunities around the world.

Troy offers several foreign-language courses: French, Spanish, German, Greek, Chinese and Japanese. These courses are popular options to fill fine arts requirements and electives, or even a minor.

To obtain a minor in any approved subject, 18 credit hours must be completed. Students usually take six courses that are three credit hours each.

Learn while traveling

Opportunities to study abroad are commonly used to fulfill a portion of the required credit hours.

Troy offers a variety of study-abroad opportunities. Some of these trips focus on language immersion.

For example, groups are going to Argentina, Uruguay and Chile in the summers of 2019 and 2020, led by Assistant Professor Kelly Suero, who teaches Spanish on campus and via Troy Online.

“Learning a foreign language sharpens skills on reading, negotiating and problem-solving, which are all important tasks of daily living,” Suero said.

“Becoming proficient in a foreign language increases the chances that students will likely be more successful in other areas of their lives.”

Even if your career path does not require you to speak another language, being bilingual can demonstrate to employers that you automatically possess several personal skills that set you apart from those who speak only one language.

“Decision-making is careful and cautious, which is something employers look for in potential employees,” Suero said. “With universal unemployment problems, speaking another language certainly gives students a competitive edge.

“Speaking another language demonstrates a person’s intelligence, flexibility, openness to diverse people, and decision-making skills.”

But to achieve this mega résumé booster, you must first be willing to try something new and possibly a bit uncomfortable.

“Learning another language is the first step to learning another culture,” said Michele Welty, assistant professor of French. “Taking a class is the beginning of what could be a lifelong journey.

“It’s going to teach you things your parents and peers couldn’t teach you. You have to be willing to take risks and put yourself out there.”

Regardless of whether you ever travel to another country, it’s exciting and interesting to learn another language. 

‘The golden ticket’ for a job

Foreign-language speakers are and should always be a community at Troy, according to Welty. Although it may be challenging, it is undeniably rewarding to be bilingual.

“Seeing a foreign language on your résumé could be the golden ticket for your dream job,” said Peter Garrett, a nursing student from Eclectic, Alabama, who was a sophomore in the spring. 

“It opens up so many opportunities that you wouldn’t even notice you’re missing out on without it.”

Translators are in high demand and can be incorporated into several career fields, such as international business and trade.

Common foreign languages

According to the Center for Immigrant Studies, the most spoken languages other than English in the U.S. in 2016 were Spanish with 40.5 million speakers, Chinese with 3.4 million, Tagalog (which is mostly spoken in the Philippines) with 1.7 million, Vietnamese with 1.5 million, French and Arabic both with 1.2 million, and Korean with 1.1 million.

Along with studying the language, these courses may also educate students on cultural topics such as art, recipes, geography, fashion, film, music and literature.

“If you had asked me freshman year, I wouldn’t have imagined my Spanish skills would be where they are now,” said Ryann Bartholomew, a broadcast journalism major from Montgomery who will be a senior in the fall.

“Plus, learning a foreign language teaches you more than just a language.”

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