❝One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.❞
Many of the first study abroad programs were created so that students could learn a foreign language. Today, study abroad is about more than just language immersion. But most students who go abroad take some level of language instruction. Why? For some students, it is part of their major. But many take the courses out of personal interest, maybe filling a general requirement, but mainly for fun and enrichment. You might not become fluent in Italian, but you can learn a lot in a semester and it will make your time abroad more meaningful.
But what about some of the lesser known languages? Here we make the case for taking a unique language course abroad. You can enhance your time abroad, enhance your critical thinking, and enhance your résumé and more all in one.
Gaelic has made a resurgence in Ireland in recent years. If you are interested in literature or history, round out your Irish Studies courses with Elementary Gaelic. See the course options here, and learn about English words with Gaelic origins in this cool article.
In Prague all students have a little crash course in Czech during orientation so they can familiarize themselves with the language. But you can continue studying Czech during the semster along with courses in art, economics, history, politics and psychology. Understanding the language, even just a little, helps to understand the culture. And while most people in Prague speak some English, it goes a long way when interacting with locals when you can converse with them in their language instead of asking if they speak English right away. A little language knowledge will help with cultural immersion, making friends, and getting to know your city better.
Students who go to New Zealand have a full array of university courses to choose from at Victoria University. Students can take things like Spanish or Japanese, or get further into the culture and take Maori studies courses, including intro to the Maori language.
In India there are several hundred different languages! You can study the principal language, Hindi, or a myriad of others such as Sanskrit, Telugu, and Urdu. This can accompany business coursework, or anthropolgy coursework as a great addition to the résumé.
Zulu and Afrikaans
South Africa has a rich linguistic history. With eleven official languages, there is so much to learn! You can study the Dutch based Afrikaans, as many students at the university there speak English and Afrikaans. The most common language spoken as a first language in South Africa is Zulu with 23% of the population and Xhosa with 16%. You can take either of these languages (courses on our website) and enhance your knowledge of world culture and world history.
Bogaziçi University has an amazing offering of courses in English. But aside from that, they offer courses in Turkish which are a must. 75 million people speak Turkish, and Turkey is strategically located in the political sphere. There are often public and private scholarships to study specific languages such as Turkish so contact your study abroad office.
What language did you take abroad? Which language do you wish you could study? What would you add to the list? Leave a comment or send us a tweet @aifs.