What are languages?
The study of languages involves developing fluency in speaking, listening, reading and writing the language. Languages also provide exposure to cultural, historical and geographical aspects of a country.
First year language study serves as an introduction and focuses on conversation. Gradually the emphasis moves to vocabulary, grammar and composition. You may be exposed to some major works of literature in the language. Language study often offers an elective component with travel and work experience that allows you to immerse yourself in a completely new environment.
Some institutions will also allow you to study the technical aspect of languages so you are comfortable using them in a business environment.
Most commonly offered degrees in languages
The most commonly offered degrees in languages include bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees. Bachelor’s degrees in languages give you enough exposure to fluently use the language for daily use. Master’s and doctorate degrees are more appropriate for those who wish to conduct research and teach languages.
It is also very common to pursue certificate programs in languages. Those who are traveling to a new country or are learning languages for the sheer joy of learning may only be interested in pursuing certificate programs that span one year of study.
Specializations available in languages
You may occasionally find programs that attempt to identify common structures in similar languages, but generally specializations in languages expect you to focus on one language at a time.
Within a language track, you may have the option of specializing in literature or culture. The bulk of the courses in studying languages will be core courses since they attempt to give you a solid foundation in using the language for reading, writing and speaking purposes. If you are particularly interested in using your background in languages to work with communities in business, healthcare, public service or law you may want to specialize in courses that familiarize you with some of the technical jargon.
Career opportunities and salaries for students who pursue languages
Language study is becoming a must for all students in high school and university. While English may be the most common language of use for most Americans, they are increasingly expected to conduct business in Europe and China and thus knowledge of additional languages is a great way to boost your career options. Those who supplement their primary degree with language study may find they are able to earn a salary boost over others.
Those who specialize only in languages may still get strong career opportunities as translators, contract writers and teachers. Those who want careers in foreign services and government will be expected to learn new languages depending on where they are posted.
The highest salaries may be available to those who have pursued languages that are perceived as difficult by those who have English as a first language. If you are fluent in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Hindi, Arabic or Farsi, you could have some great career opportunities in American agencies that interact with these populations.