There’s no doubt that knowledge of a second language, no matter your level of expertise, is a useful skill to have. Many students are required to complete a minimum number of credits to graduate high school, or even receive their degree, and employers are valuing second language skills than ever before.
There are plenty of ways to learn a second language, whether at your home university or online, but have you considered learning a language through study abroad? Here’s why you should take your language learning to an international destination.
Earn Real-World Experience
The best way to learn just about anything is a practical and real-world application, and language learning is no different. What better way to learn and practice a language than in a country where it is spoken every day? Speaking with locals will boost your confidence, teach you local dialects and slang, and improve your language skills more than practicing with non-native speakers ever will. Plus, it knowing the language will help you immerse in and make a deeper connection with the host culture.
Get Closer To Your Degree
Whether you’re learning a second language as a major or minor, or you’re checking off some degree credit requirements, you can complete it faster with study abroad. USAC Specialty and Partnership Programs offer language study for more than 15 languages, and in many instances, you can complete up to two years of instruction in just one semester. So, not only will your skills and confidence with the language be higher than your peers back home, but you’ll also be further along in your degree. Win-win!
Make Friends With Locals
Study abroad is all about meeting locals and making connections in your host community, and while it is possible to make friends without speaking the local language, having some basic communication skills helps. Even if you study abroad with little to no knowledge of the local language, don’t worry! Being able to simply make the effort and show that you are trying will go a long way with locals and will enhance your overall study abroad experience.
So, opt to live with a host family, or speak to your Resident Director about joining a language partner program to practice with local students (they’ll be practicing their English right back, so there’s no pressure to be perfect). You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to connect with others when you’re trying to communicate in the local language, and soon you’ll be chatting up every student, neighbor, and cashier you meet.
Stand Out To Future Employers
Language skills are becoming a must-have for most industries these days. In today’s global workforce (with an even bigger shift to remote work, allowing employees from all over the world to collaborate more than ever before), employers are valuing second language skills more all the time.
According to a study conducted by The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), nine out of 10 U.S. employers rely on employees with language skills other than English, and 56 percent say their foreign language demand will increase in the next five years. And while there is a higher need for language skills in some fields than others (ACTFUL notes customer service, sales, marketing, management, and IT as their top departments with the greatest need for foreign language skills), knowledge of a second language is becoming more and more important for all industries. There’s no better time than now to begin!
Apply Your Language To Your Career Of Choice
Speaking of career preparation, USAC study abroad is more than travel and mingling with locals. We offer internships in more than 20 program locations around the world to give students hands-on experience in their field of choice. With practical job experience comes the opportunity to practice your second language in a setting similar to what you’ll experience on the job back home. You’ll learn valuable vocabulary relevant to your job, which is sure to impress employers and make your job easier. Plus, if you ever find yourself working with an international team, understanding how to navigate language barriers will be incredibly helpful when it comes to communicating effectively and professionally with your team.
So no matter where you choose to study abroad, we recommend diving into language learning. Whether you’re a beginner just trying to grasp the basics or a veteran looking to polish your skills, international education can help you achieve your language goals. Your future travel experiences, and resume, will thank you!