How to Choose Which Language to Study

by Grace Dickins

Studying a second language has become a requirement at many schools and colleges. Globalisation has much to do with this trend, but the personal benefits of learning a second language are compelling, as well. Choosing which language to study isn't necessarily an easy task, but whether you are passionate about learning another language or not, the choice should be taken seriously.

Find out Your Options

The first step in choosing a language to study is to determine which languages are offered at your institution. This step is important because you may be surprised to find out what languages are or are not offered. You may stumble upon a language that you didn't know was available but really sparks your interest.

Explore Your Cultural Interests

Once you've determined which languages are available to you, spend some time thinking about your interests and goals. Consider cultures or places that intrigue you. Perhaps you have family or friends that now live or used to live in another part of the world.

Consider Your Sense of Sound

Amelia Harper, writer for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, advises people to choose a language that appeals to their ears. In other words, choose a language that you like the sound of. In order to learn a language, you must listen to it for many hours. Harper suggests finding internet sites where you can listen to music or conversations in other languages. Then, choose a language that you find pleasant-sounding.

Investigate Your Subject Field

Academic or career goals are also important to consider when choosing a language to study. Think about fundamental players in your field of study. If there are a wealth of contributions from speakers of a particular language, it would be beneficial to learn that language. You could read those contributors' original research and writing, too.

Think of Careers

Fluency in a second language is a major attraction for employers. Think about where in the world you may want to travel to or even live for a future career. In many cases, you may not know which language prospective employers are seeking out. However, you can analyze current trends in a field to help make the choice. For instance, given China's current economic boom, Chinese would be an excellent language for a business student. If you plan on pursuing a career in sports management, Spanish would be a valuable language; there are many Latin American players in today's major leagues.

Learning a second language is important to your academic life and future because it broadens your knowledge base. Don't take this choice lightly!