Why Apply for a Languages Degree?

Studying a foreign language at university literally opens up a whole world of possibilities. Being able to speak one or more languages fluently makes you highly employable and brings opportunities that may not be available to graduates who only speak English.

Having advanced linguistic skills and a strong knowledge of the culture and country, or countries, where that language is spoken makes you an attractive potential employee for future employers. For example, the CBI Skills and Education Survey (2013) showed that 70% of businesses valued foreign language skills in their employees.

Languages such as Mandarin Chinese and Arabic would make you a particularly good candidate for large international businesses that operate in multiple countries, if you’re considering a career in business.

Here are some more reasons why you should apply for a Languages degree:

You’ll learn some amazing skills, not just a new language

Obviously learning a new language fluently is the main reason to apply for a Languages degree, but there are some other great skills you’ll gain too – for example:

  • Oral and written communication skills in English and your chosen language(s)
  • Independence and self-reliance
  • Problem solving skills
  • You’ll be adaptable and flexible in new situations/environments
  • Research skills – you’ll then be able to identify the key issues and develop opinions/arguments based on your research
  • You’ll appreciate diversity and be open to other cultures
  • You’ll be open minded and embrace new challenges

You’ll have flexible study options

Universities recognise that you might want to study more than just a language, or more than one language, so they offer a range of study options so you can build a course that suits you.

For example, you might choose to study two (or sometimes even three) languages, so you have a broader range of linguistic skills to offer.

You may also choose to study for joint honours by studying a language and another subject. Popular subject combinations include:

  • A language and History
  • A language and Politics
  • A language and Economics
  • A language and English Literature
  • A language and Business Studies

By studying a joint honours degree you’ll be leaving university with an even broader range of skills, knowledge, and experience that will make you a valuable part of any team.

You’ll have the chance to study abroad

This is probably one of the biggest draws for potential Languages students and the majority of universities offer some opportunity for their students to study abroad.

You may find that Languages courses are four years in length, to allow for a year spent living and studying in another country. As well as the year abroad, most universities organise trips to other countries – for example to the German Christmas markets or other cultural events – so that students get the chance to practice their language skills with native speakers.

The world really is your oyster

Being bi, or multi-lingual, means that you could end up in a role in many different countries doing anything from hospitality to global commerce, or international politics.

If you haven’t yet decided which language(s) you’d like to study, the top 10 most important foreign languages are thought to be:

  • Spanish
  • French
  • German
  • Arabic
  • Mandarin Chinese
  • Portuguese
  • Italian
  • Russian
  • Turkish
  • Japanese

International experience and strong linguistic skills are highly valued by employers. For example, the Erasmus Impact Study showed that 64% of employers consider international experience important for recruitment.

The career options are wide-ranging

You don’t need to worry that you’ll be stuck doing translation or interpreting for your entire career – although if that’s what you’re hoping to do, good luck!

There are many aspects of business that require someone with language skills and the more languages you can offer an employer, the better. You’ll have all kinds of careers open to you, including:

  • Teaching
  • Nursing
  • Import/export
  • International politics/relations
  • Hospitality
  • Event management
  • Advertising
  • Subtitles and voice-overs
  • Editing and publishing
  • Travel and tourism (airlines etc.)
  • E-commerce

Many of these roles could be incredibly important and responsible positions – such as working for the United Nations or a foreign government. You could also find yourself regularly travelling around the globe as part of your job.

Above all, studying a Languages degree at university is an amazing experience and you’ll build memories and relationships that will last you for the rest of your life!