Dean’s Note: This is a great piece about the benefits of foreign-language study at Wesleyan. As entering first-years, you are in a prime position either to begin a new language, especially if you want to reach the level needed to study in a country whose language Wes teaches, or to build upon your previous learning for greater fluency and deeper cultural immersion.
Why Foreign-Language Study is a Good Idea for Every Student
We assume if you have reasons to learn a particular language (to study, work, travel, or live abroad or for resources not fully available in English translation), you already know why it is important. Here are reasons to study any language besides English or whatever you regard as your native language:
- Many employers, professional schools, and graduate schools see serious study of a second language (potentially, a double-major) as evidence that you can (a) put yourself more easily in others’ (colleagues’, clients’) shoes and (b) communicate more effectively even in English.
- You will never know your own language and culture more deeply than by studying another–by looking at it from the outside. Learning to thrive with the unfamiliar is often linked to creativity in many intellectual and professional contexts.
- Language learning teaches you to think more clearly and sharpens your brain’s ability to make sense of the world.
- Deep study of another culture through its language brings home how much of value will never be made available in English.
- Puzzling out another language and culture will help you understand (and empathize with) the difficulties of non-anglophone immigrants, colleagues, clients, and travelers in the U.S., even if you never leave American shores.
- Learning another language well makes it easier to learn any language in the future. Even if you never need this, the experience–especially if you study abroad–will make you far more confident in your ability to face any intellectual or professional challenge.
- Foreign-language courses fit easily into study plans: offered on highly varied schedules, they provide a stimulating (and fun!) break from problem-set driven, heavy-reading or arts courses.
Arabic language and culture: http://www.wesleyan.edu/academics/faculty/aaissa/profile.html
American Sign Language: http://www.wesleyan.edu/lctls/courses.html
Classics (Greek and Latin): http://wesleyan.edu/classics/
East Asian Studies (Chinese, Japanese, Korean): http://wesleyan.edu/ceas/
German studies: http://wesleyan.edu/german/
Hebrew language and culture: http://www.wesleyan.edu/academics/faculty/dkatz01/profile.html
Romance Languages & Literatures (French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish): http://wesleyan.edu/romance/
Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies program: http://wesleyan.edu/russian/
Any other language: http://www.wesleyan.edu/lctls/silp.html
Take the Placement Exam if you have questions about the level at which you should begin, and if you have questions prior to your meeting with your faculty advisor, do not hesitate to contact Dean Brown’s office at 860-685-2758 with questions.