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As the world becomes more and more interconnected, fluency in multiple languages is a highly desirable skill. A wide variety of companies and organizations require workers fluent in foreign languages. If you are fascinated by the study of language and culture, a major in a foreign language may be a fit.
The major provides students with a strong background in the language of study. They will study written and spoken applications, gain fluency in communication, and read and analyze literature from the culture. Language majors also study the culture or cultures the language stems from. Oftentimes, a semester abroad will be either required or strongly encouraged in a country where the language of study is spoken. Some examples of courses include the study of race and gender in French cultures, Spanish cinema, and storytelling in Italian cultures.
Students gain fluency in the language of choice as well as a variety of other skills. Through the study of another language, they will increase their oral communication skills, learn how to communicate with other cultures, and begin to read critically. They will also gain a sensitivity for cultural differences, and study politics, art and music from a different society. These abilities will prove useful in multiple fields of work.
Students interested in government may choose to work as a foreign consulate, aid military or intelligence agencies, or represent the United States in trade negotiations. Consulates issue visas and work with visiting tourists, students, or migrants from foreign countries. In an intelligence or military agency, students could work for the CIA or the NSA, where foreign-language speakers are highly sought after. The CIA has a Corporate Language Hiring Bonus Program, which can add as much as $36,000 in bonuses. The NSA hires language analysts in research, transcription, and translation of materials that may be of national concern.
Students interested in education may work as school counselors or foreign language teachers. They may also work as teachers of bilingual students. This would require an additional degree in education. Students may also choose to work with children in families as a social worker.
Those interested in travel may work as a tour guide, travel agent, or staff member at a hotel where the use of a foreign language may be required. Airlines also seek multilingual people, so a student could become an airline employee.
The health field values language skills. Being able to communicate with non-native speakers is important for the health of those patients, so students could work as nurses, hospital receptionists, and ER staffers.
Furthermore, students with a passion for entertainment and media can find work in the entertainment industry. There is a wide market for book translators, journalists who speak multiple languages, and marketing designers who can cater to different languages and cultures. Since many brands have markets internationally, they need speakers of foreign languages to design content that will advertise to the language and cultural preferences of potential customers in foreign countries.
Finally, students may find their passion in NGOs, working towards the development of communities in need. Organizations such as the UN that work in foreign countries require the assistance of translators and program workers that understand how to communicate and address the needs of people from different cultures.
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