The Benefits of Studying A Foreign Language in College

Author: Randi McQueen

Up until my third year of college, I had no idea that studying French would actually shape my goals and potential career path. Beginning my first year at Notre Dame, I enrolled in an Intermediate French course after studying French in high school for four years. I had spare room in my schedule, and I thought it would be a new challenge completely different from my other architecture classes and studios. Since then, studying a foreign language has opened so many doors for me that would have been closed otherwise if I had not known a language other than English.


Here are a just a few reasons why I would recommend pursuing your passion for language in college.

  • Your opportunities to study abroad increase exponentially. Why go to Dublin, London, or Australia when you could go to Rome to practice Italian or Angers to brush up your French and experience a homestay? There are also programs outside of Europe for Notre Dame students who study Chinese, Arabic, and much more!


  • You can join a variety of on-campus language clubs and meet people who share your passion of all ages and skill level. In Cafe Français, French snacks are served and conversation is shared amongst professors and students. Cafe Français even organizes activities to see French films and concerts on the weekends.



  • You will most likely achieve some level of fluency. Studying anything at Notre Dame is intensive. If you choose to pursue a foreign language, chances are that you’ll learn quite a bit after just a couple semesters of practice. Personally speaking, after one semester of intensive 6-credit Italian, I am able to understand considerable bits of conversation in Rome.


  • Your opportunities in the workplace can grow beyond expectation. Practicing a foreign language may even lead to promotions in the future. Whether you become a doctor, an architect, or a businessperson, sufficiency in a language other than English will only increase your chances of success and broaden your horizons. 


  • You will develop an immediate connection with people from different cultures. Your ability to converse in another language with international speakers will give you an automatic appreciation for a culture other than your own. Although the natives will most likely notice the imperfections in your accent, they will appreciate your respect in attempting to speak the local language. It takes courage and practice, but you will improve immensely!