Students should see the value of language classes

Many students feel that the language requirement at Wake Forest makes its students complete is the ultimate burden of the divisionals they must complete by graduation.

Unless they plan on majoring or minoring in a language, students generally feel that the sooner they finish the language requirement, the better. While this is understandable because students are eager to start major-specific classes, it also completely undermines the value and benefits one could gain from investing their time into actually learning from the language classes they are taking. If they make the effort to learn how to speak and understand the language they are studying, students will realize how beneficial the language requirement at Wake Forest truly is.

Most of the dread associated with having to take mandatory language classes likely originates from the idea that students are forced to take classes they won’t gain any useful knowledge from in regards to their major. So, by being tasked with classes completely unrelated to what they are dedicating the majority of their college years towards, students believe that they are wasting their time on classes they don’t need. And this is a completely rational feeling for students to have because of what is entailed with having to complete more classes; more stress, less sleep, less free time — all of which a Wake Forest student doesn’t need.

But by taking a step back and thinking in the long-term, the payback of taking the time to learn a language is immense, and these benefits are applicable in any setting one can possibly think of. Especially with the development of the global economy, it could be the deciding factor for getting a call back after a job interview. Being able to speak another language is becoming an important, and sometimes necessary, skill to have as the world becomes more connected over time.

Learning another language could also give you the confidence to travel to a country you wouldn’t have been comfortable going to without having known the language. Travelling abroad can be an intimidating process, but nothing is scarier than being in an unfamiliar place without being able to communicate with the people around you. But by being able to speak the language, it suddenly becomes much more enjoyable to travel to new places around the world. And these are just several examples. Learning a language opens doors to so many aspects of life that we could never learn about by enclosing ourselves in a bubble and not learning another language. Even within the U.S., there are cultures and places that one cannot truly understand without knowing the native tongue. 

Learning a language can bring many opportunities to your life that you never could have imagined happening. It could take you to places you never thought of going, getting jobs you never imagined wanting or meeting people you never would have met. Plus, being able to speak another language is always a fun fact or conversation-starter to have at your disposal. Try studying abroad for a semester in a non-English speaking country or working in programs where most people around you don’t speak English.

If you take the time to really learn a language, you will appreciate the many memorable experiences that will follow.