Why study languages?


Hi. We all study languages at the University
of Birmingham and we’d really like to tell you why it’s such a great choice. Studies have shown that learning languages
is good for you and it’s a great skill to have. It activates those grey cells and broadens
the mind because it helps you to understand that people from different cultures think
differently – making you more open minded and accepting of others. It’s also good for the brain because it
improves your general intelligence, makes you better and remembering and noticing things.
Apparently it makes you better at making decisions and it’s even been shown to help people
avoid dementia. Languages is a really flexible subject. There
are lots of different ways you can study it. I study German and Italian, but you can also
study just one language on its own. You can even study three languages like one of my
friends who takes French, Mandarin and Russian. When you take a language at uni, you often
don’t just study the language itself. You do all sorts of things, even skills based
modules in things like translation. You can also take half languages and half
something else, or you can take another subject ‘with’ a language. And you don’t always
need a language A level. There are all sorts of opportunities out there. Language degrees get you jobs. A really high
percentage of language graduates walk straight into good jobs – if they don’t want to go
travelling first. They are more likely to get a good job quickly
over students of other subjects, partly because with languages you learn all manner of transferable
skills, but also because the UK is desperate for graduates that speak other languages. These are the languages that the British Council
has identified as ‘the ten most important foreign languages for the UK’s future prosperity
and global standing’. Spanish, at the top, is spoken in Spain, but
also across Central and South America. It’s also a good language to learn if you want
to go and live in the US. If you really want to conquer South America,
you should also add in Portuguese which is spoken in Brazil. German and French, along with English are
the official languages of the European Union. French and Portuguese are good too if you
want to go and work in Africa. Feeling more adventurous? You can’t often do languages with different
alphabets at school, but you can pick them up from scratch
at uni. Language study takes you to all sorts of places.
One of the best things about studying Modern Languages is the year abroad. It makes you
a much more employable graduate than someone with a 3-year degree. You do a lot of growing
up on the year abroad, and employers like that. The first option is to go and study at a University
in the country of your target language. You can also opt to spend your year abroad
on a placement with the British Council as a teaching assistant. Or, you can choose to undertake a work placement
like Katarina or Isobel. Katarina spent 7 months with Showroomprive,
a website for designer brands. She worked on their marketing, translating their website
and developing an app for them. Isobel worked for a human rights NGO in Geneva
dealing with money, invoices and learning how to code for their website. She also went
to several conferences at the United Nations, and at one of them she met a translator who
worked in 6 languages. A work placement is great for developing skills
that will really make your CV stand out. When I graduate I’m hoping to go into journalism
or translation. I know graduates from my course here at Birmingham
that have gone on to work abroad at so many amazing places – Chanel in Paris, the British
Council in Spain, a school on Reunion Island, even local government in Japan. I’m very
excited. I hope you’ve seen just how many opportunities
studying languages at uni can give you, from skills, knowledge and an unparalleled experience.
I love studying languages and I hope you will too. You can find out about all the topics we’ve
talked about and more by visiting our website.

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