COMMUNICATION IS KEY: THE VALUE OF STUDYING EUROPEAN LANGUAGES AND CULTURES – YULIA (Russia)
I am in my second semester of studying Spanish Language, Culture and Translation at the University of Tartu. However, some people still ask me “Why?”, “What are your plans after graduation?”, etc.
It might seem that languages are not a popular choice of a degree at universities now. However, not too long ago, studying languages was considered very prestigious and it was believed to open doors to better life and more job opportunities. Nowadays, some people consider this as a waste of time.
Can knowing some European languages be absolutely pointless? Of course not! So, these are 5 reasons to study them:
1. More than 50% of the population speaks more than one language and there totally should be a reason as to why.
Speaking different languages helps you to push your thought process beyond the limits of only one language. For example, the words for some objects you use daily might not exist in other languages, and vice versa, you can always find something new in another language, something that you have never heard before. A few very extreme examples of this can be found in the language of the Northeast Siberian Chukchi, where “screw” is referred to as “rotating nail,” “steel” as “hard iron,” “tin” as “thin iron,” “chalk” as “writing soap,” and “watch” as “hammering heart.”
2. Learning languages helps to understand other people and cultures better.
You have probably heard the notion that “changing languages leads to a change in personality”. This is not only related to the change of the language one is using, but it is also the adaptation to the environment in which this language is used. Knowing the language of a country you are travelling to lets you dive right into its culture. This will allow you to get experiences you could never get without the language skills. Discovering another country’s history and traditions helps you to see the world through their eyes. There are many advantages in knowing different languages and their cultures, such as having a bigger number of acquaintances, being aware of the cultural differences and being able to regulate the communication between cultures, and so on.
3. Knowing more languages helps you become more creative and open-minded.
When you are able to think in two or more languages, you see the everyday life concepts differently and from more perspectives. Knowing that there are various possibilities, it is easier to become more tolerant and less stressed about ambiguous and uncertain situations. Improving your second language skills makes you look for alternate words when you suddenly forget the original one that you initially planned to use. This way, you are always more likely to find different solutions for all life situations.
For example, quite often during the language classes, we held debates where we did not always get to choose which side we were on. We therefore had to look at the issue from an alternative perspective and come up with new ideas.
4. Fluency in several languages will look good on your CV and will also be useful.
We all have heard that the economy is becoming more globalized, but not all of us have thought about it in terms of new career opportunities for people who learn languages. Seeing as more and more companies are opening their new offices in foreign countries, soon it will be necessary to know multiple languages to be considered for job placements. Multilingual people are able to communicate within different communities. Learning languages will be very useful when applying for jobs, as this shows that you can interact with a broader range of people, making it crucial for a successful career. Mastering a foreign language is a skill which requires a lot of time, discipline, effort and commitment. Many people start learning and then give up halfway That is another reason why prospective employers pay attention to foreign language skills. A major advantage of the European Languages and Cultures programme is that you are given the opportunity to choose and mix subjects to determine your own path.
You are not required to choose only literature courses or only courses related to linguistics. Instead, you can mix both and you can add courses on culture and many more courses that are relevant for the type of development you are aspiring to get. The courses you choose apart from your specialty module help you to really understand in what direction you want to move in your career. In order to complete your studies, you need to do an internship in a company related to your interests and thus gain practical knowledge. This is an amazing opportunity to apply the theory learnt at the university to practice. Unlike many other programmes, when studying a language, studying and doing a traineeship abroad is very much supported. The time abroad helps the language students better understand the country’s culture, improve their language skills, and simply meet new people. This experience is much more than one can ever imagine!
If you have any further questions about the European Languages and Cultures programme at the University of Tartu, feel free to ask me.
Yulia Nikitina (Russia)
MA in European Languages and Cultures