Speaking a second language equips you with a valuable skill that not everybody possesses.
Any one of the undergraduate majors in languages and cultures provides a basis for careers in fields as varied as secondary and higher education, government foreign service, the military, non-governmental international organizations, world trade, international banking, social services, Peace Corps, translating/interpreting, and journalism, just to name a few.
There are many personal benefits to studying a foreign language. As an essential component of a liberal arts education, learning another language is a way of understanding other cultures and expanding individual worldviews.
Professionally there are many advantages to knowing a foreign language. Speaking two or more languages can lead to higher salaries and more job opportunities, whether it be working abroad, traveling internationally or communicating with people from other countries.
Yes, of course. First of all, almost any job, even in the United States, can benefit from your knowing another language. More and more of the U.S. population speaks languages other than English, and jobs in social services, business, communications, and the government all use people with language skills. Language skills set you apart from other workers, making you a better candidate for promotion and work on new projects.
- broadens your experiences; expands your view of the world
- encourages critical reflection on the relation of language and culture, language and thought; fosters an understanding of the interrelation of language and human nature
- develops your intellect; teaches you how to learn
- teaches and encourages respect for other peoples
- contributes to cultural awareness and literacy, such as knowledge of original texts
- builds practical skills (for travel or commerce or as a tool for other disciplines)
- improves the knowledge of your own language through comparison and contrast with the foreign language
- exposes you to modes of thought outside of your native language
- a sense of relevant past, both cultural and linguistic
- balances content and skill (rather than content versus skill)
- expands opportunities for meaningful leisure activity (travel, reading, viewing foreign language films)
- contributes to achievement of national goals, such as economic development or national security
- contributes to the creation of your personality
- enables the transfer of training (such as learning a second foreign language)
- preserves (or fosters) a country’s image as a cultured nation
The above modified from Alan C. Frantz, "Seventeen Values of Foreign Language Study" (ADFL Bulletin, vol. 28, Nr.1, Fall 1996).